Nokia's Nseries phones have all been feature-packed wonders of miniaturisation.

Even so, they've tended to be on the chunky side, but this latest version is the smallest yet.

The Nokia N79 could almost be called svelte at just 15mm thick and weighing in at 97g (5g lighter than its predecessor, the N78).

It's also the first of the Nseries that seems to be directly aimed at young users, since it makes great play of its personalisation features, including a selection of 'smart' XpressOn rear covers, which automatically change the screen themes depending on which colour you choose.

There's also N-Gage gaming on board and support for social networking and photo share websites such as Flickr, Facebook, Friendster and Ovi.

Improved keypad

The screen is sharp and bright, with 16million colours and largish for a conventional candybar handset at 2.4inchs across.

Beneath it the keypad seems rather squashed, with the bottom three keys especially hard to press easily right at the edge of the handset. That said, it's still an improvement on the tiny sliver buttons of the N78.

Around the sides are stereo speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, camera shutter button, keypad lock slider and a cover for the USB port and microSD card slot. It comes with a 4GB MicroSD memory card (which you'll need – there's only 50MB of onboard memory), but will accept up to 8GB cards.

Top notch camera

On the back of the Nokia N79 is a cover for the 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss Tessar lens which you slide across to activate the camera. It also has dual LED flash lights, which mark another improvement over the N78's single LED.

The camera is up and running two seconds after sliding the cover, which makes it perfect for quick snaps, but of course, it's good for much more than that. The pictures are generally sharp, with good colour tone and believable depth, and easily bear comparison with Sony Ericsson's Cyber-shot phones.

There's a full suite of options including six-shot burst and timer (including a regular timer that will take shots at regular intervals, so you can produce time-lapse animations) and a strong range of editing options too, including crop, resize, rotate, sharpness, contrast brightness and red-eye elimination.

Fully-featured music player

The music player is equally impressive, as is the sound pumped out by the stereo speakers, which offers a better than usual soundstage, if necessarily a bit light in the bass.

Unfortunately the lack of bass extends to the supplied headphones, though these can easily be upgraded using the 3.5mm jack plug. There's an FM radio on board and also an FM transmitter, which allows you to play your tunes through a nearby radio.

High speed connectivity

Browsing on the N79 is decent if unspectacular. Access is quick thanks to the HSDPA 3G connection and downloads – and fast uploading of content - are helped greatly by access to Wi-Fi.

The onboard accelerometer motion sensor flips the display to landscape mode when you turn it on its side, you can zoom in or out using the * and # keys on the keypad and there's a page-within-page option to help you find your way around busy sites.

The feature-rich N-Gage games open up lots of possibilities, including multiplayer competitions both via Bluetooth and online. There are 15 trial versions already loaded but you'll pay up to £8 each for the full versions.

Beefed-up battery

A-GPS satellite positioning technology is included here too. Nokia's ever-improving Maps application now offers 3D maps and satellite views plus there's the option of adding sat-nav directions (the phone comes with a 90-day UK licence for this extra package, after that, you'll have to pay).

The battery life has been beefed up since the N78 and we were happy to get three full days of moderate use, including about a half-hour's browsing and music playing and intermittent use of Wi-Fi.

The Nokia N79 a worthy update to the N78 with improvements in almost every sector at pretty much the same price. Even if you have no need for the personalisation or gaming options, it's still a great-looking, very versatile little smart phone.

Network availability: TBC

Looks: 3.5/5
Ease of use: 4/5
Features: 4.5/5
Call quality: 5/5
Value: 4.5/5