It’s taken a while for Nokia to deliver its first post-iPhone touchscreen handset, but with the release of the 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia is now firmly in the touch control game.
The first mobile phone is the latest touch-operated 5th Edition of Nokia’s S60 smartphone platform, the 5800 XpressMusic feature packs some heavyweight punch.
It can be purchased online as Nokia’s flagship music phone, but it has a number of functions tend to the high-end Nseries mobile work schedule.
Touchscreen action is centred on its large 3.2-inch touch display, but under the bonnet the 5800 XpressMusic features Wi-Fi support plus HSDPA high-speed 3G mobile data connectivity, A-GPS location finding and mapping technology, a host of smartphone multimedia gadgetry, including a substantial amount of music-playing ability.
Nokia boxes it with an 8GB MicroSD memory card (with cards up to16GB supported), it has a built in 3.5mm standard headphone socket, and the onboard music software is capable of delivering excellent quality audio.
A 3.2-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics ensures snapping, while Nokia has a proliferation of online-based functions for the exchange of images and video content, as well as a multitude of links to online services such as Facebook , and a full Web browser.
Nokia, the 5800 XpressMusic at a surprisingly low price for a newcomer touchscreen – it costs Â£ 249 SIM-free, although there are some free from the Treaty
Nokia hasn’t tried to do an iPhone-alike with this device. It has a distinctly Nokia look and feel; even though it does do the minimalist black front panel design, there’s typical XpressMusic red or blue coloured trim, and the solid bodywork has more Nokia Nseries candybar about it than slimline Apple phone. Still, it isn’t exactly a pocket-bulger though â€“ it weighs 109g and measures 111(h) x 51.7(w) x 15.5(d) mm.
The button count on the front is low, with Call, End and Menu buttons under the display, a touch-sensitive Media button on the top right above the display, plus a secondary video calling camera and proximity sensor nearby.
The 3.2-inch, 16-million colour 640×360 pixels display provides a decent amount of finger room for the new Nokia touch user interface. A small stylus is also slotted into the back panel offering a more precise tapping option â€“ and Nokia also boxes a plectrum on a wriststrap.
The S60 5th Edition UI debut here S60 marries a familiar style of the menu structure and navigation to an easy to use touch-up kit. It is not the kind of easy-swiping, pinch to zoom multi-touch screen on the iPhone has, but it can Schlaganfall finger scrolling through menus and lists of options.
The home screen display has a couple of tappable buttons for pulling up a virtual numberpad and scrollable contacts list. Pressing towards the top of the screen pulls up quick access to calendar, clock, ringtone profiles, plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options for fast switching on or off.
The neatest new homescreen feature is a Contacts Bar â€“ a panel of four contact buttons you can assign to any of your contacts, and to which thumbnail images can be attached. Press the contact and you have one touch access to new text messages or calls plus a log of recent communications with that number. You can also link up to two web feeds to each contact, so by pressing the contact bar you can see regular online updates from the relevant blogs, web pages or social networking sites. If you like, these can be switched off or replaced by a more familiar S60 shortcuts bar.
Another set of shortcuts arrives via the Media touch key, glowing just above the display. A tap of this drops down a multimedia toolbar with five icons, providing quick-tapping hotkey access to the music player, web browser bookmarks, Video Centre function, media gallery, and the Share online option â€“ offering online uploading for video and images, plus networking via sites like Nokia’s Ovi service and Flickr.
The main menu touch action is clearly evolution rather than revolution. A grid of main menu icons onscreen is tappable to get into more sub menus in a way that’s consistent with S60 conventions. Responsive onscreen softkeys help tap-to-select options, while generally it’s easy to scroll through and select, with haptic feedback giving you vibrating confirmation that keys have been touched.
Text input can be done via a very usable virtual alphanumeric pad â€“ just like normal texting – or via Qwerty keyboard input, using a large and very well proportioned sideways view one, or a mini any-way stylus-tappable one. A very good handwriting recognition option is also to hand. The phone has an accelerometer built in for automatic screen rotation, so it switches views to how you’re holding it.
The sensors are also used to mute or reject incoming calls or switch or repeating alarms, simply turning the phone face down when you receive a notice.
User-friendly music player
Touchscreen apart, music is naturally centre-stage. The S60 music player interface hasn’t been re-invented; there’s none of the whizzy visual touches or cover-flow style browsing as the iPhone. The conventional-looking set-up is straight ahead and fine to use.
Nokia’s Music Store is supported for those who don’t sign up for the Comes With Music service, and an FM radio is built in. The 8GB of in-box MicroSD storage supplements the small 81MB onboard storage, giving plenty of headroom for stacking tracks.
Thanks to the 3.5mm headphone socket â€“ usefully, on top of the phone â€“ you can plug in a decent set of your own ear-wear to maximise sound quality. It’s worth doing as this device is capable of producing a superb audio performance, with lovely clarity and depth., plus surprisingly hefty bass. The supplied earphones are OK, but could be better, so we’d advise a try with some higher quality ear-gear to appreciate the full effect.
Stereo speakers on the body do a reasonable job for mobile phone speakers, but are still limited. The radio, however, a fine low-key job to a boil entertainment quota.
Digital quality basic
Camera takes a little back on this model, while it remains competent cameraphone use. It has a 3.2-megapixel snapper integrated system equipped with an autofocus, LED flash and a new touch-based user interface.
The image quality is fairly good within the limits of the device. Normally bed can look acceptable plans, and plans close to doing well. Usually find colors accurately, but can sometimes be a bit too saturated in certain lighting conditions. Yet they are not bad for a shooter to mid-year. Low-light shots are not so well, however, with picture noise appears grainy and the flash with a very limited effect in the illuminating over short distances.
Shooting, the camera automatically switches into widescreen landscape mode, giving plenty of screen space for the viewfinder and camera touch controls. The camera interface presents an easy to follow set up for autoâ€“metering adjustments, effects and standard camera tools. Adding effects post-shooting is a breeze, too.
Video capture quality is better than average quality for a mobile phone, recording at up to VGA resolution at 30 frames per second for reasonably watchable phone footage. Both stills and video can be easily uploaded online to Ovi, Flickr or Vox accounts using embedded software options. You can play video back on a television set too, with a TV-out cable supplied in-box.
Downloaded or sideloaded video content looks superb on the big screen. The 5800 XpressMusic supports a wide range of video file formats, with a RealPlayer app pre-loaded, and streaming is supported. Nokia’s regular Video Centre app provides an out-of-the-box way of finding and installing feeds to mobile optimised video content suppliers.
That large screen also does great things for the Nokia Maps application, with the 2.0 version of the software looking good on the display. All the usual position-finding, map-viewing, route-planning, search and control options are to hand, with maps of the UK and Ireland coming pre-loaded on the in-box MicroSD card. Zooming via touch is a welcome new option.
The onboard A-GPS receiver worked a treat, locking on to satellites and tracking our position very sharply, with a commendably short start-up time. It worked very well in our tests. As well as the sophisticated standard mapping package, owners have the option of upgrading to Sat Nav-style voice-guided turn-by-turn directions.
Great range of apps
Nokia has improved the regular S60 browser with its touchscreen implementation. Wi-Fi and HSDPA mean you get relatively speedy rendering of pages, but you can also swipe around, and zoom in and out by tapping pages and using zoom bars onscreen. There’s an easy to use icon-labelled toolbar for speeding up your navigation. Flash is supported on this device too.
The 5800 XpressMusic’s S60 smartphone pedigree shows through with a generous helping of additional applications, while more can be accessed from Nokia via the embedded Download! tool. The usual serving of organiser functionality includes calendar, calculator, notes, to do lists, voice recorder, and a variety of clock and timer functions.
Instant messaging and email with attachments are supported too. Nokia also includes a pair of games that demonstrate its motion sensor and touch operated capabilities.
With plenty of functionality inside, the 5800 XpressMusic does a good job in power handling. We managed between two to three days battery life with our average usage, though how much you use gadgetry like Wi-Fi, GPS or the music player will impact on overall battery performance.
Nokia reckons a fully charged phone can deliver at up to 400 hours on standby in 3G coverage or 406.2 hours on GSM networks. With voice calls – with which it puts in an exemplary communications performance â€“ it can achieve talktime of up to 5 hours on 3G, or 8.8 hours on GSM networks.
With the 5800 XpressMusic Nokia has evolved its S60 smartphone legacy into a very serviceable touchscreen format. Practical evolution rather than jaw-dropping revolution is what you get.
While it doesn’t have the smoothness and easy elegance of the iPhone’s ground-breaking touchscreen user interface, Nokia’s first mainstream touch control device has a functional, easy to handle set-up, and performs consistently well.
The touchscreen operation may lack the Apple sparkle, but the functionality within the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic certainly delivers, with plenty of top features for the price that makes this device an attractive music majoring proposition.
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