Earlier this month, I said that "Nokia’s N78 is going to surprise you" and now’s your chance to see if I was right. The U.S. version of the device becomes available today if you’re willing to part with $560. Just to compare apples to apples, this is an unsubsidized price; it’s a shame that no carrier will consider subsdizing these to make them more compelling to U.S. consumers.
The N78 has many features found in the higher-priced N-series devices, but doesn’t cost as much. It offers a 3.2-megapixel sensor with famed Carl Zeiss optics, A-GPS, HSDPA for use on AT&T’s 3G network, and something not found on many music-capable phones: an FM transmitter so you can weirelessly "broadcast" tunes on your car radio or home stereo. The device also includes WiFi and Bluetooth for additional connectivity options. Plus it has the latest and greatest feature pack for Symbian S60 3rd Edition. I’m not sold on the bar-like keys of the keypad, but Matt Miller found it to be very usable.
I still think $560 is a very tough sell for the mainstream phone market here. I realize that the original iPhone was more than that (I should know) and sold millions of units, but Apple is a much more powerful brand here than Nokia. If I were to walk down the street and randomly ask 10 people if they’ve heard of Nokia’s N-Series phones or the S60 operating system, I’d be surprised if one said yes. Those same 10 people asked about the iPhone? 9 out of 10… there’s always someone living under a rock.