At first glance the N76 appears to be a sort of Frankenstein creation, constructed in a lab from the hallmark parts of rivals' commercially successful phones. On the outer surface we have a mirrored face with embedded external display reminiscent of LG's Shine. Flipping the phone open, there's the flat metal, neon blue accented keypad from Motorola's many RAZR incarnations.
At 106.5mm by 52mm by 13.7mm, the N76 is thinner than any of the RAZRs, but feels wide in the hand. The flip mechanism is not spring-loaded, and the heft of the top section makes the phone a little awkward to open -- you'll probably need both hands.
Beneath the external 160x128 pixel TFT display are three multimedia keys, the likes of which we've seen on flip phones such as LG's U310, Motorola's RAZR MAXX V6 and the Samsung A701. Besides controlling your music, these keys allow you to read incoming texts -- handy for stealth communication during boring meetings or tiresome social encounters.
The headphone socket is a standard 3.5mm size, which means you can plug your own headphones straight into the phone. One design issue is that the ports for USB connection and the headset are located on the hinge, so when you plug in cables, the phone can't be flipped all the way open (see the video for a demo). Advertising material features the N76 opened at to an only-just-obtuse angle as if it was a laptop, but is that practical in terms of usability? Computer says no.
Overall, the construction of the N76 is solid, with its chunky hinge and 115-gram weight contrasting nicely with the whippet-thin form factor. You could throw this model around without fear of smashing it to bits.
The N76 may not have the extensive feature set of its much-lauded N-series companion, the N95, but there's more than enough to keep you connected and entertained.
First up is a 2-megapixel LED flash camera -- a surprisingly low resolution when you consider the number of phones sporting 3-megapixel versions. Photos can be taken in two ways -- with the phone opened, or with the phone closed and held horizontally, where the external display acts as a viewfinder. We found the closed method was the best way to capture snaps, as finding the teeny shutter button when the phone is open is very awkward indeed.
Space-wise you've got 26MB of internal memory, with a microSD slot that will give you up to 2GB extra space. Our review model came with a 512MB card.
Like other models in the N series, the phone has a focus on multimedia, with its music player capable of handling MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+ and WMA files. There is also an FM radio, but the lack of A2DP Bluetooth support means you can't bust out those snazzy wireless headphones to hear your music.
A thin phone means a teeny battery, but we were satisfied with the staying power of the N76. Our battery kicked on for three days between charges with moderate use of phone calls, texts and 3G features.
The expansive, dazzling display is well suited to Web perusal, but switching to landscape mode makes entering data difficult, as you'll need to either rotate the handset or press keys sideways.
We had mixed results with the camera. Photos taken in low light conditions looked fine on the phone's display, but when transferred to a PC and viewed at full size, graininess and feathery clumps of noise littered the images. Daylight snaps fared better.
Overall, the N76 is a worthy addition to the N series, and looks pretty snazzy, but the specs are a bit of a letdown, especially in light of the amazing features of the N95. Sure, not all phones can pack the punch of the pricey N95, but we would have liked to at least see A2DP Bluetooth support and a 3-megapixel camera.