The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic has quickly become a very popular Symbian S60-based mobile device for the Finnish company. In its first few months on the market, there have been over 2 million of these devices sold.
And while one can point to the similarity of the 5800XM to other famous touchscreen models such as the iPhone, Instinct, and Prada; none of these devices have demonstrated the sheer capability, or market friendliness that Nokia's offering has. Maybe that is why, despite some glaring weaknesses, that its found a solid place in this reviewer's pocket.
Build and Design
The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is a simple tablet-based touchscreen mobile. Composed completely of plastic, it doesn't have the feel of a very expensive device, but it takes a beating and keeps going better than most.
Compared to the LG Incite I reviewed not too long ago, this Nokia device much less the fingerprint magnet on the sides and rear. And the buttons that it does have (call, menu, and end on the front; power on the top; and, volume +/- and screen lock on the right) keep your hands in the right place and away from the screen.
The screen looks great... indoors. At 640 by 360 pixels, it's hard to find a device this small (3.2in screen, 111mm long by 51mm wide) that has this many pixels packed onto its surface. This means that photos, text, and web pages just look outstanding
Outdoors, the display washes out almost completely in the sun. This is something that I'm not used to with Nokia devices at all.
The screen is plastic, and gives a good deal when pressing it. Though this is a good deal less concerting than the Incite in that the haptic feedback feels more "buttony" and natural.
Truthfully though, its not a busy device. The buttons while finger-friendly in feel, seem just a bit hard to reach all around. And the placement of the SIM and microSDHC slots on the let side seem great at first, but are a fingernail's nightmare to get open at times.
Nevertheless, its weight is excellent (109g), and it feels like any other well-weighted candybar mobile when placed next to your head on in a pocket. Plus, the long/thin nature of the design is very pocket friendly. I've not felt this good about ditching the idea of a case since owning a Sony Ericsson T616.
Touchscreen Input: While the 5800XM is not Nokia's first touchscreen product, it is the first one that utilizes the Symbian S60 operating system. A new version, S60v5, opens up the ability for the OS to utilize a touchscreen interface. With the 5800XM, this is a mixed bag.
On one end, it's great to touch. The S60 OS has long been panned for being too menu-driven, and having a touchscreen does help the effort. Some of the changes made to the UI include making scroll-bars larger, adding larger contact points for menu items, and even some redesigned elements. However it seems partly done.
On the 5800XM you get to touch, but its UI is not at all similar to the iPhone or even the T-Mobile G1. There are still too many steps to do things such as cut-and-paste, or move files from one folder to another. In addition, much of the default software is simply the same version that it is on the non-touchscreen Symbian S60 devices, without any optimization.
The 5800XM does have some good points here though. There are 4 input methods: numeric keypad, mini-full QWERTY, full screen QWERTY, and single-character handwriting (stylus is included). All of these are suitable options, though I found that the numeric keypad best in portrait, and the full screen QWERTY best when holding the device in a landscape fashion or web browsing.
Sensors: The 5800XM also is a Symbian S60 pioneer in terms of using several sensors to automate actions. Similar to many other Nokia devices, the 5800XM has an ambient light sensor and an accelerometer. It adds a proximity sensor (so that you don't activate the touchscreen when on a call), and a developer-accessible API to these sensors so that applications can take advantage of them.
For example, an included racing game allows you to control the steering by simply turning the device. Also, you can snooze alarms and reject calls by just turning over the device. It seems pretty simple, but these sensors and the behaviors are a really powerful means of getting more out of a device without having to touch a button.
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