Nokia N76 ReviewNokia N76 7.6
N76 is a phone running on Symbian Operating System with S60 interface. To be precise, the exact version is Symbian 9.2 with S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1, which is the latest one used in a Nokia phone up to now. The only other device using it and currently available on the market is the N95. Unlike it, you can’t fully use the display in landscape mode, but have software for the external display (see design).
The top part of the home screen displays a clock and the date, as well as the usual signal strength and battery, while the name of the carrier or Offline can be seen in the middle. The Offline tag indicates that the N76 works only as an “organizer” and multimedia device with the phone function switched off (that’s handy for using the smartphone during a flight). Just below these is located a row of 6 shortcuts which can be personalized to suit you best. The rest of the display, below them, is used for “notifications” – this is where missed calls, upcoming tasks (or To-Do in the calendar), received messages are displayed, as well as the music player status (the song that’s played at the moment). The various capabilities of this Active Desk can be set to serve you best. It resembles a well-personalized homescreen of a Pocket PC with Windows Mobile OS and is really useful and pleasant to use, and it saves a lot of time. Located at the bottom of the screen are the two software buttons which can also be personalized from the Settings menu.
The main menu can be viewed as 3x4 grid of icons that can also be displayed as a list (it’s chosen directly from the main menu) but the icons are not animated in both cases. N76 adds two new possible visualizations – Horseshoe and V-shaped, which are interestingly-looking, but inconvenient to use 3D menus. The numeric keypad buttons can be used as shortcuts – a function which is much better implemented than version 6 of the S60 interface but still a lot of things should be changed: as the menu not always holds 12 icons (they can be more or less), scrolling up/down shows you different ones that should be associated with the keypad – but they’re not. If you press 3 while at the highest part of the grid, you’ll select the icon located at the top right corner. But if you scroll down to reveal the other icons in this menu, pressing the 3 button will still open the afore-mentioned menu, not the one currently located at the top right of your screen; so these shortcuts only relate to the first 12 icons in a particular menu, while the rest (if there are any) remain without any shortcuts. If a button’s function is dynamic and corresponds to the grid in the menu, you can click the button for a given menu without even thinking about it. Thus, you save the time you usually need to “walk around” the menus, using the joystick.
The new extra of the OS (9.2 compared to 9.1), which we find in both N76 and N95 is that each application which is active has a small circle next to its icon in the menu. For example, if you left any application running in the background, than in the main menu next to "Applications" link an indication would appear. As all other Symbian S60 phones, you can see the running applications by holding the Menu key, and shut some of them off by selecting them and using the C key.
The menu can be personalized by using themes, and if you combine various screensavers and personalized homescreens, two identical phones can look quite different. Definitely, the operating system provides many good personalization options, so it can be compared to the most advanced system, according to us – Windows Mobile for Pocket PCs. During the test, we used a vivid red theme preloaded with the N76, perfectly matching its style.
Symbian phones are not only multimedia devices, they are phones. And every phone should have a good system for managing the concats. The phonebook of Symbian S60 phones is one of the best on the market, together with those of Windows smartphones. All the contacts are displayed as a list and if there is a picture ID, it can be seen in the top left corner of the screen as a thumbnail with a very small size (it’s the same when you have an incoming call and that’s why we find this feature useless) when you select the contact. If you want to search, you type in directly from the keypad and searching is done for the whole name (not only the first word), even if the name is saved in more than one field (first and last name for example). If you want to edit a contact , you can only change the already defined fields. For adding more information you need to select the Add Detail menu. When adding a new contact you are provided with the “basic” fields, but with the “Add Detail” function you have almost no restrictions on the fields and their number and you can add a lot of phone numbers.
We also like having the option for adding a given field several times and in that manner for example we are able to record the numbers of three phones each one with a status “Mobile”.
voice commands – they are speaker independent and you don’t have to “train” every command, something that can save you a lot of precious time. By holding the right soft key, the “recognizer” turns on and you can say a name (from the phonebook) to be dialed. Names like “Father”, “Brother”, “test”, “John” and “Neo” were no problem, but we had no success with others like “Amy” for example.
The commands can activate various programs or perform different functions, like “New SMS” for example, but a list with different capabilities must be added to the menu - not all of them are added by default so that they’re easier to recognize with any speaker – thus by adding only the ones you need you can achieve best possible accuracy without the annoying training. Аnd it works, the voice commands were very accurate and we rarely experienced mistakes when launching applications.
A voice recorder can record your voice by the means of speakerphone as the duration of the recording is limited only by the available memory. You can record on the memory card, which will allow longer recording times. In that way the smartphone replaces your voice recorder without needing third party software.
The Organizer is spread into different submenus – the calendar is one of the icons in the main menu and it can be viewed by month or week. Of course, you can easily add notes (Meeting, Memo, Anniversary, To-do) to a particular day with a few clicks; To-Do notes are also displayed on the homescreen if the corresponding option is turned on (see Interface). An alarm can be assigned to each entry in the calendar.
Other options like Calculator, Notes, and Converter are located in the Office menu. Notes are just annotations with no option for adding an alarm like the To-Do notes. The Converter works with various quantities (Length, Weight, etc.) but the interface has not changed much, compared to older versions, and working with various types is still inconvenient – entering different values requires a quite slow transition from one row to another, while choosing types is done from a drop-down list, which usually takes a lot of time.
The calculator is very simple and is not scientific one, which would suit a smartphone.
Unlike N95, the N76 comes only with PDF reader and lacks applications which open Microsoft Office documents. From the downloads section, you can get the QuickOffice which is actually the software coming with the N95. You can also get F-Secure, ZIP manager, and AAL.
Alarms are located in a third menu - Clock (in applications). In Symbian 9.2 you can add as many alarms as you wish and for each one you could choose whether it should repeat each and every day for example or not. This is excellent and there is no stupid limitation in the number of the alarms like with other even smart phones (i.e. Symbian 9.1 allows for only one alarm that even can not be set to repeat).
The World Clock is also located in this menu and you can add various cities that you like to view – that's very convenient and saves a lot of time compared to the standard way with “moving across the world map". You can easily review given cities, which you are interested in without searching them each time.
The Tools menu houses the integrated File Manager which we would've liked to feature an improved navigation too. Unlike PPC phones, it does not resemble the explorer we know from PCs and working with files is not quite fast.
Nokia N76 Review - Interface, Phonebook, Organizer