Review: Nokia XPressMusic 5800

When I first saw the Nokia XPressMusic 5800 I was disappointed. We saw it last October, at a time when everyone and their dog was releasing a touchscreen phone to “beat” the iPhone. The version I saw initially was quite wonky with a touchscreen interface essentially bolted onto Symbian resulting in weird behavior.

But I’m sorry that I doubted Nokia. The 5800 is one of the nicest little touchscreen phones I’ve used in a long while and, aside from a few quirks, it’s one of the better implementations of touchscreen on the Symbian platform I’ve seen in a while.

The tiny 5800 is four inches long and two inches wide. It has three buttons on its face – dial, hang-up, and menu. There is a lock button on the side along with volume and camera control. You won’t notice it at first but there is also a stylus hiding in the bottom right corner of the phone.

A full-sized audio jack and mini USB port are on the top along with the power button. It has a 3.2-megapixel camera built-in with autofocus.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Demo

The G.S.M. version is quad-band with 802.11b/g WiFi. It has a MicroSD slot and, oddly enough, a slot for a SIM card on the left side.

The main screen is a “friends” display. There you can add four of your friends along with a single “feed” which can be from almost any site including – shudder – Twitter. This feed is updated automatically. The menu is your standard Symbian far with a set of large icons. Most of the scrolling menus are designed for easy tapping although you will definitely need a stylus. There are methods for “thumb typing” input, but there was rarely the chance to use them during the average session. When faced with a tiny onscreen keyboard, the mind automatically defaults to expected behavior.

The device includes GPS, VGA video capture, and lasts for about 5 hours of talk time.

Because this is an XPressMusic device, the 5800 shines at music playback. A small button at the top of the phone – right next to the XPressMusic logo, brings up a quick menu for music, photos, web, movies, and sharing. The phone, in media mode, takes advantage of the phone’s large screen with large, easy-to-top buttons.

Once you get past these functions, this phone is a solid Symbian smartphone with Nokia’s standard messaging features built-in. You can send emails and add contacts using Nokia’s own services. Most Symbian apps work flawlessly with the 5800.

We only had a few issues with the 5800. At points the response time was quite slow and it’s difficult to tell when you’ve shut down an application in order to free up some memory. When the phone is acting up it gets hard to press some buttons and once you press them a few times you suddenly enter a flurry of menus and screen changes thanks to the OS thinking you meant to press something else.

Bottom Line
Otherwise, the form-factor, media playback experience, and even the photo quality were one par if not better than most other touchscreen phones. The phone costs about $400 at Nokia flagship stores.