Nokia allows you to customise the shell of your N97 and to that end you get three Xpress-on backplates; there’s a brown one, a lime green one and a blue one.
However you choose to transform the back, the front of the phone remains white. But thanks to a series of contacts on the backplate the N79 knows which cover you have attached and changes the handset’s theme to match the backplate colour. It is a simple idea, but quite beguiling. If you don’t like the idea or have a custom theme you prefer, it is easy to disable the feature.
The N79 is a 3G handset with HSDPA download speeds to 3.6Mbps. It supports quad-band GSM, GPRS and EDGE. There is Wi-Fi built in and the familiar sniffer sits on the main screen ready to seek out connections and hop onto them.
There is also a front camera for two-way video calling and a 5-megapixel main camera. This has a physical lens cover which means the Carl Zeiss lens is well protected. When you slide the lens cover away the camera software starts running.
A dual LED flash helps with indoor shots and there is autofocus and a macro mode. The photos are one area in which you can take advantage of this phone’s TV-out capability though you will need to buy the necessary cable. I actually think it’s a bit mean of Nokia not to provide the cable in the box. After all, this is not exactly a pocket money-priced phone.
Image quality is pretty good with a couple of caveats. There is a high degree of shutter lag which means capturing moving images is tricky. Even photographing flowers in a slight wind proved testing. And indoors, even with the dual LED flash, photos can be dark.
Still, photos on the whole were good. The coloured dish, shot indoors under normal household lights is crisp, though the background is far darker than it really should be. Outside, the chair is very well reproduced. Its details are clear and its whiteness uniform. Not bad for a dull winter’s day. The ”Sempervivum” plant shows off the macro mode but you can’t get as close as you can with some cameraphones.