The Nseries line is known for fully-featured mobile phones that just happen to ignore normal size restraints. Handsets such as the N90, N93, and N80 set the bar with impressive feature sets but took some criticism for being just way too BIG.
With the N76, Nokia’s aiming to get into the thin market, one that’s been long dominated by the RAZR. Touted as a music smartphone, the N76 combines the Symbian operating system with stereo speakers and a 2 megapixel camera in a device that’s actually thinner than the RAZR.
First, a big thanks to WOMWORLD for providing the N76 pictured here. You too can demo new Nokia devices by signing up for their Nseries trial program! The only requirements are an established blog or forum membership. Or you can just be famous like me. Just kidding.
The N76 is Nokia’s seventh Nseries flip phone, and at 13.7 mm, it’s also the thinnest of the set. In terms of weight, it’s got some heft. (115 grams – about 4 ounces) The profile is a definite advantage – the phone slips easily into a pocket, but it’s also heavy enough so that you just know when you’re carrying it around.
Nokia really crammed everything together into the N76. Having a thin phone this densely packed means you’ll have to go through some minor inconveniences – such as removing the entire back cover if you want to change the battery or SIM card. The N76′s method of securing the SIM card is also a little weird – you need to pull out a little yellow cradle that is not connected to the N76 is any way. So don’t drop it in a sewer or something.
Aside from that, the N76 is built like a champ. It doesn’t have that plasticky feeling you get with less expensive phones (N75, 5300).
I found the camera to take, well, pretty average pictures. The 2 megapixel CMOS sensor isn’t going to knock anybody’s socks off – colors are a little muted, and there’s definitely some noise (first picture was not taken by the N76 camera):
What WAS surprising was the lack of any real “post-processing” lag that occurs after taking a picture. Total lag time: about 1-2 seconds after hitting the shutter button. Compare that to the N95 which has a lag of about 6-7 seconds, which would be pretty unacceptable if it were an actual digital camera. The bottom line is that the N76 can take some pretty quick shots if the need arises.
Nokia is marketing the N76 as a music phone, but the handset is actually rather hit-or-miss in this area. I liked the dedicated music buttons and the ability to move through menus and playlists with the flip completely closed. Instead of having raised buttons, Nokia opted to keep them flat and slightly less tactile than normal, so you won’t have a random-keypress-that-started-playing-my-embarrassing-music type of moment. The stereo speakers were okay, but spaced too close together to really get any kind of benefit from stereo sound. However, music sounded excellent with a pair of normal headphones.
Nokia oddly neglected to put in one “small” feature into its slim music phone: A2DP (the Bluetooth profile that allows stereo sound). This was a major oversight considering almost every self-proclaimed “music phone” these days comes standard with the Bluetooth profile.
A more minor “Huh?” problem occurred with the placement of the headphone jack – it’s located at the top of the phone, which means the flip can’t open all the way if something’s plugged in.
You also can’t quit the Music player application once you’ve opened it. I’m not quite sure why, although the N75 has the same problem.
Sound quality and signal strength were very Nokia-ish – that is to say, very good. Voices came across clearly. I did have an issue with the N76′s loudspeaker – the maximum volume was much lower than what I would’ve liked.
The BL-4B battery is rated for up to 3 hours of talk time, and my informal estimate was around three and a half hours of talk time. The battery lasted over 8 hours with the music player continually cranking out random songs, which was a nice surprise.
In the end, the Nokia N76 isn’t the greatest music phone out there with the lack of A2DP and some other minor bugs, but it’s still a well-built, lightweight flip phone.
Camera takes really quick pictures
No A2DP (on a music phone?)
Can’t fully open flip when headphones are plugged in
Maximum battery life could be better