In light of the current state of the mobile phone market, the final score of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic has been reduced from four to three stars.
Nokia’s first touchscreen phone belongs to the music-phone category. With a very unbloated price tag, the Xpress Music 5800 clearly targets the consumer market. The phone features a 3.2" display, 3.5G data, WiFi, GPS, a camera, 8GB memory card, a built-in accelerometer and Touch S60 user interface .
The Finnish manufacturer promises an unlimited music download offer: "Comes with Music", but the platform will not be ready before March.
Cheap and chic ?
Why follow the design trend? The 5800 has a glossy plastic casing except for the rear panel which has a matt surface, avoiding fingerprints. It gives the phone a cheapish allure which is rather exceptional for the brand. Luckily the build is solid. On the side of the phone (available in red too) there is a blue line.
The rear panel is matt and won’t collect fingerprints.
The 5800 is not a slim phone either: at 15,5 mm it is bulkier than average (as thick as the N85). It sort of makes you look naturally for a keyboard; well that would be in vain. The good surprise is that it is incredibly light: 109 gr there where other phones of this kind border 150 gr. The phone is longer than it is large, so it feels more like a normal phone than a smartphone and it easy to grasp.
As ever, we appreciate the lock/unlock button on the side. Above it, there is a direct access to the camera. On the other side you will find two slots, one for the SIM (the battery has to be taken out to get to it) and the slot for the Micro SD HC memory card (8 GB that can be extended to 16 GB).
Less wide, the 5800 is easier to hold.
A comfortable viewing screen for video.
The 3.2" 640 x 360 pixel screen (16:9 ) is very crisp when used indoors (in comparison, the iPhone is bigger but only has 480x320 pixels). In broad daylight conditions you will find yourself struggling to see anything.
Fluid navigation, but could do better on the interface
Cleary aiming to seduce the mass market, the 5800 is extremely user-friendly. You basically use the touchscreen for everything. Three discreet buttons allow you to open the main menu, start and end calls. Pressing the clever little pictogram at the top right side will give direct acess to the Media Bar and to the main multimedia functions (photo, audio, Internet...).
Another genius streak is the access to four of your favourite contacts directly from the homepage. Once you have set this up, the icon associated with your contact will also give you access to the messages, call diary… If you prefer, this contact bar can become the shortcut bar to four of your most-used applications. In both cases, it would be so much nicer to have more than four options.
Direct access to multimedia applications
Direct access to multimedia applications
The Contact Bar
The touchscreen interface works rather well here. The applications are displayed sufficiently seamlessly and without glitches, but the iPhone is faster. The 5800 works more like the Storm: you select and click to confirm. For example when you want to call, you select a name within your list and then you click again on the name to call.
The accelerometer allows you to have either portrait or landscape mode. The 5800 is rather sensitive, turn it ever so slightly one way and the mode will change without you wanting it.
For SMS and email input, you can use handwriting recognition feature (the phone recognizes the letters sufficiently well) or the tiny mini keyboard, the full screen QWERTY keyboard (the most useful one) or the alphanumeric keyboard.
Use you fingernail or the stylus for the keyboardThe full screen QWERTY virtual keyboard is our favourite. Much more precise than the Storm’s, one doesn’t even need a stylus, the nail will do.
The interface has nothing new apart from the Media bar and the Contacts Bar.
Those who are familiar with S60 will be at home. The graphic aspect could do with a makeover.
Web-browsing offers plenty of swanky options to manage web pages (RSS, full screen mode, zoom, etc.) but even though the screen has a good definition, it is not as good as the iPhone’s.
Being a musicphone, the 5800 features advanced musical functions. As usual, better change the earphones to enjoy a rather well-rounded sound.
The surround is much better than what we are used to with phones. Unfortunately the phone does not have a radio, whereas higher end Nokias such as the N85 or the N79 have them.
In terms of photography, this phone –like most- will not deliver a quality as good as a mid-range camera. It’s good enough for the occasional picture and disappointing in dark surroundings. Better than the iPhone, but nowhere close to a Nokia N85. The 5800 deals well with video.
Nokia Maps will help you find your way, but to get the vocal guidance, as usual you have to pay an extra fee. It’s a pity that the maps only display in portrait mode.
Call quality is clear, even in noisy environments.
In terms of battery life the 5800 lasted 2 days, which is quite remarkable compared to other phones in this category that rarely stretch beyond 36 hours.
The 5800 is not the most sensitive or the quickest touchscreen phone, but it is certainly one that reaches its goals: simple solutions for the consumer market.
Nokia’s system is rather stable, even though it will take another couple of months to get the applications of the S60 interface totally compatible with the OS Touch.