By January 25, 2009

Nokia N79 review

You may have seen my Nokia N85 review recently. The N79 and N85 are basically the same phone in different cases. The N79 is a mono block phone; the N85 is a Dual Slider. The two of them came to us as pair to review, so rather than simply repeat ourselves here we thought we would highlight the differences for you. And since they are built on the latest Nokia S60 Operating System, in this review we look at the advanced email connectivity in a bit more depth.


The Nokia N79


Unless mentioned below the Nokia N85 and Nokia N79 specifications are the same:

The main differences between the two are:

  • N79 is a Mono Block / Bar phone, the N85 a Dual Slider
  • N79 supplied with 4Gb MicroSD, the N85 supplied with 8Gb MicroSD
  • N79 supplied with 3 different coloured back plates.
  • N79 not supplied with TV Out Cables.
  • N85 has dedicated buttons for Media Player/ Game Play.
  • N79 has a standard backlit screen, not OLED.


What’s in the box?

The phone, a 4Gb MicroSD card. Mains charger, USB data cable. Ear phones, wired remote controller for the MP3 player. Manuals, software DVD, and an Activation code to enable one Trial game to the full game. Blue, green and bronze Xpress-on smart covers. Check out Matt’s Nokia N79 unboxing video for more information.

Nokia N79 Specification:

  • Dimensions: – 110 x 49 x 15mm
  • Weight: 97g
  • Battery: – Talk Time: 330 mins
    – Standby Time: 406 hrs
    – Music Playback: 29 hrs
    – Video Playback: 264 mins
    – Capacity: 1200 mAh
  • Display: – 240 x 320 pixels/2.4 inch (Main)
  • Network: – GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 (Quad-Band)
    – WCDMA: 900/2100 HSDPA (Dual-Band)
  • Camera: – 5 mega-pixels (auto-focus) (Main)
    – 0.3 mega-pixels (Secondary)
    – 20 x Digital Zoom
    – Dual LED Flash
    – Red Eye Reduction
    – Geo Tagging
  • Video: – Hi-Resolution VGA Video Recording
    – 30fps Video Recording
    – 8 x Digital Zoom
    – Video Light
  • Music: – Supported formats: MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+ & WMA
    – FM Stereo Radio
    – Visual Radio
    – Nokia Music Store
    – Nokia Podcast Support
    – Nokia Music Manager Support
    – Windows Media Player Sync
    – 3D Effect Stereo Speakers
  • Ringtones: – Monophonic
    – Polyphonic (64)
    – MP3
    – AAC
    – Talking Ringtones
    – Video Ringtones
  • Messaging: – SMS
    – MMS (with video)
    – E-mail (POP3, SMTP, IMAP4, MS Exchange)
  • Memory: – Phone Book (unlimited)
    – Dialled Calls (30)
    – Missed Calls (30)
    – Received Calls (30)
    – 50MB (internal)
    – microSDHC (external)
  • Connectivity: – microUSB
    – Nokia 3.5mm AV connector
    – Bluetooth (2.0)
    – Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11g)
    – GPRS Class 32
    – HSDPA (3.6 Mbits)
  • Navigation: – AGPS


Full specification can be found on the Nokia website.



On the front the N79 has the standard 12 key phone pad plus 7 function buttons and the Nokia NaviWheel.


Nokia N79 front view


On the left side a mini Nokia charging socket and a cover protecting the memory card slot and MicroUSB socket.


Nokia N79 left side


On the right side, speaker grills, volume control and camera button.


Nokia N79 right side


On the top the power button, a manual slide to enable and disable the keyboard lock and a multifunction 3.5mm socket that accepts standard stereo headphones or Nokia’s remote control (supplied) or the Nokia TV Out cable (not supplied).


Nokia N79 top view


On the back the 5Mpixel camera and the twin LED flash/video light. The whole back cover removes to change the battery and fit the Sim.


Nokia N79 back view



Which to choose?

It’s really personal preference here. Both phones are nicely made and look great. The N79 has different coloured back plates which also automatically change the colour of the display theme, so if you fit a green back cover, a little connection on the cover sets the phones display theme to a mostly green style to match, some people will love this, some people will just think it’s a nuisance to keep extra bits of phone around the house… I liked the red one, but it wasn’t supplied with our test phone. It is possible to buy a red or silver one separately from Nokia’s website.

The N85 certainly looks dark and impressive when closed and the extra few Media Player buttons helped when using it as a MP3 player, but despite the slick lines of the N85, personally I preferred the simplicity of the mono block N79 over the Dual Slide action.

Price difference? Web prices for the N79 are about £20 less than the N85, but the N79 has a smaller Memory card, a standard backlit screen rather than the N85’s OLED and doesn’t ship with a TV Out cable.


These phones aren’t just pretty fashion items; they really are advanced pieces of engineering. The S60 Operating system is common to the N96 flagship model and even the N97 Communicator. So the GPS receiver is an Assisted Global Satellite Positioning receiver (AGPS) meaning it’s integrated with the phones internet connectivity to give faster response and more features to the Mapping software. The N-Gage games can network with other players over the internet. The phone itself and many of its applications can update with bug fixes and or new features directly from the Nokia website.

All very good! But for me, I was interested to see what it could do with email. I send and receive a lot of email, and these days most of it from my phone. In my computer support role I have seen many people moving to mobile email in one form or another. It’s clear, as devices improve and data charges fall that this trend will escalate in the coming months. Currently though I see comparatively few Nokia phones used for remote email, strange as years back it was Nokia that first wowed us with the early Communicators and their fold up QWERTY keyboards. I still have one somewhere.

The N79 (and N85) support POP and IMAP email which are the basic email account formats. They don’t (yet) support HTML email, like Hotmail and Yahoo. Though Yahoo may have a POP option for a few pounds a year. I couldn’t see a Blackberry client either; some non Blackberry phones have a software upgrade to allow use with the Blackberry email system. The other main email format is Microsoft’s Exchange Push Email which works like a Blackberry, keeping a synchronised copy of your work emails, contacts and calendar on your phone. When you update (or add) a contact on your phone it instantly and seamlessly updates your office Outlook address book. It works the other way around too and with your email and calendar entries. For people that work out of the office this quickly becomes an essential communication and management tool.

Nokia also provide two other ways of managing and synchronising phone data, the first is Nokia PC Suite which allows transfers by USB cable or Bluetooth. This software’s good and integrates with Outlook well, the limitation is that your phone and PC must be relatively close to each other.

Recently Nokia have introduced OVI, again a system for personal users that synchronises email and contact information, but this time “Over The Air” (the mobile phone network) in a similar way to the Direct Push or Blackberry services.

I didn’t test the OVI system as it’s only a few weeks out of Beta testing, and when I spoke with Nokia engineers there were enough ums, errs and pauses to tell me to wait a while until it matures J

I didn’t test the POP or IMAP setup either as they are simple enough to expect them to work first time.

So Exchange support! The phone doesn’t ship with the Exchange Direct Push software; it’s a free download from Nokia. I downloaded mine directly through the phones web browser, and it was installed in minutes. No problem there. Then into the Exchange setup. You would need information from your business technical support department at this stage, or the hosting company if you are using a third party Hosted Exchange setup. Armed with this though a reasonably competent end use should be able to setup their own phone. You may also need to install a SSL Security Certificate (a small file), again not really difficult, your office tech support would supply it, then just copy to the phone by a USB connection or onto the MicroSD card, and double click from the phones file manager to install.

Once that’s all entered you should see all your Contacts start synchronising, followed by the last 3 days of emails and your Calendar entries.

I had a glitch at this point in that I had to manually allow the synchronisation each and every time it checked for emails. I had a quick chat with Nokia’s first line support, although they wouldn’t let me talk directly to the Exchange trained support team they did ask questions for me and then offer to check my Certificate settings if I cared to send it in. As this was for review purposes I declined. But that’s not bad response for free support these days.

Having got my phone syncing how did it fare? The phone remained responsive enough even with a few thousand Contacts downloaded into main memory. However it only brought the first few lines of the Notes fields over, other systems will bring half a page of text at least. And although the screen was very sharp and high definition, the text size remained so large that reading emails or even long email addresses was a tedious process of scrolling backwards and forwards.


Nice phone. Clever phone. If I didn’t use a lot of mobile email I would look seriously at one myself. Though the N85 seems slightly better value given the higher spec screen and the extras.

The phone and its Direct Push software did what is said on the label, but the text to screen ratio and absence of a QWERTY keyboard or touch screen made it too cumbersome for practical email use, in my opinion. Nokia’s N97 Communicator no doubt overcomes this problem, but is quite a lump compared to other offerings out there.

Dear Nokia Wish list: How about a N85 device with a slide out QWERTY?


Review by: Daniel des Baux

[ Post Tags: Nokia, N79, Symbian, smartphone news, reviews, unboxing video, ]

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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