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After the recent onslaught of phones that offer full frontal touchscreens and 8-megapixel cameras it is a bit of a relief to spend a week with an ordinary looking, candybar handset that has a standard numberpad where you expect to find it.
Of course, this being a Nokia N-series handset there is a lot going on here. And you are going to need fairly deep pockets if you want the N79 SIM-free because it'll set you back more than £300 in that guise. It ought to be available free on monthly contracts before long, but I couldn't see any evidence of that online as I wrote this review. Maybe you will by the time you read it.
With N-series handsets coming through thick and fast at the moment, Nokia has to work hard to differentiate between them. But in N-series terms, the N79 is a phone with mid-range specs.
However, before I get to the internals, a quick word about the look and feel of this phone. I've already said it's a candybar type. It weighs a very acceptable 97g and measures 110mm tall, 49mm wide and 15mm thick. It's also very comfortable to hold.
The flat number pad is small, a sacrifice in order to give enough space for a 2.4in screen whose 320 x 240 pixels are clear and bright. You really do need the largest screen possible to appreciate the kinds of multimedia features Nokia offers on this handset and so the screen versus number pad compromise is one I'm prepared to live with. Still, if you find smaller keys difficult to use, you should try this handset out first before buying.
I like the accelerometer, which is one of the better implementations I've seen. It responded to turning the phone in my hand immediately and consistently.
Between the screen and number pad is a relatively large area given over to shortcut buttons. Very thin Call, End and softmenu buttons are accompanied by a pair of flat keys that take you to the Nokia menu and offer the clear function. To the far left is the Nokia Multimedia Key so familiar on N-series handsets these days. This takes you to a revolving menu of multimedia features such as the Internet, music, photos, and gaming.
The navi wheel has an iPod-like scrolling capability which you can enable or disable as you see fit. It's not as responsive or intuitive as Apple's version but it does work and some people will prefer it. One thing I really do like is the slider on the top edge of the handset which locks and unlocks the phone.