Nokia 5800 XpressMusic: Performance and Conclusion

May 8, 2009 by Antoine Wright Reads (51,889)


While the 5800XM is not a high-end device, it does come with several features which used to be reserved for high-end products. The 369 MHz processor is buffered by a 1320 mAh battery, Wi-Fi, GPS (with A-GPS), Bluetooth 2.0, a 3.5 mm a/v jack, and mounds of software.

It’s not positioned as a conventional or enterprise smartphone, however; it’s a music and multimedia themed one. And given its smartphone roots, it pulls off this aspect of use reasonably well.

Music and Multimedia: Let me first say, this device has some of the best speakers that I’ve ever heard on a mobile device. And definitely the loudest. Music, alarms, voice calls, whatever — these are some really great speakers and easily makes the 5800XM an alarm clock replacement.

Beyond that, the Music Player, Podcast, and Web Browser are pretty much the same as other Symbian S60 devices, with some enhancements. The web browser specifically seems to benefit well from the touchscreen application. From the tap-to-zoom (in and out), to a finger-friendly quick-menu, to the Flash Lite 3 support, it’s about as advanced as mobile browsers get.

On the optical media side, the 3.2 megapixel digital camera proves to be the only real let-down. Sure, the dual-LED, VGA video capture, digital zoom, and finger-friendly menus are great, but it’s the final product that’s a significant disapointment. Even with a few major firmware releases under its belt, the 5800XM is a really poor camera. Photos not only come out grainy and noisy, but they are over-sharpened and underexposed. This is not at all the best mobile to choose for a camera solution.

Nevertheless, if you do manage to get some photos that are of suitable quality, you have a great-sized screen to see them on.

Side note: Nokia’s BetaLabs introduced a touchscreen-friendly photo browser that really should have been the default media display application for this device. Besides loading images faster, it has this excellent finger-fun navigation that looks like a tilting photo wall. Clicking on a picture enlarges it quickly. Photos go landscape or portrait without delay, and there’s a tap-and-magnify setting where you can zoom into parts of an image as if you had a magnifying glass. The 5800XM looks like it was made for this application.

Productivity: It’s not all about entertainment though. The 5800XM also comes with the usual Nokia PIM suite: Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Notes. The email interface has been tweaked for better finger-performance, and is a touch (sorry) better than on non-touchscreen Nokia devices.

Nokia Maps is the default mapping application, and its placement here has been really well done. It actually is a better finger-designed application than much of the rest of the software, and whether using Wi-Fi or cellular wireless, downloading maps and getting a GPS fix is fast and easy. About the only thing missing is a Google Latitude-like feature of being able to see those who’ve shared their location with you.

Compared to some other Nokia devices, the 5800XM has a slightly better homescreen arrangement. There are three to choose from: Basic, Shortcuts Bar, and Contacts bar. Basic shows nothing at all, and the Shortcuts Bar version shows the day’s calendar, new emails, and 4 applications, but the Contacts bar is the most interesting.

You can set up to four contacts and then you see an individualized contact log of that contact — including SMS, calls, and can even set up to 2 web feeds for that person. You can not only see how often you messaged them, but also what was their last tweet or blog post. The only bad mark that I can give is that it would be better if the Shortcuts bar and Contacts bar screens were merged. It would be a better utilization of the screen-space then.

Being that it’s a Nokia, the phone aspects are very solid. Speaker and microphone are very clear. The speakerphone, as stated before, loud and clear at all volume levels. Pairing Bluetooth devices is easy, and call management is made easier with the Contacts bar for your frequent contacts.



  • Symbian OS v9.4, S60 5th Edition
  • 360 x 640 touchscreen with haptic feedback
  • 111 x 51.7 x 15.5 mm
  • Quad-band GSM , WCDMA 2100/850 or 2100/900 (depending on region)
  • 3.2 Megapixel camera (f/2.8, video recording at 640 x 480, 30fps)
  • 128 MB memory
  • microSDHC
  • Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR, Bluetooth Stereo Audio
  • 802.11b/g (WEP, WPA, and WPA2 (AES/TKIP))
  • Micro-USB at USB 2.0
  • GPS w/A-GPS
  • Accelerometer
  • Proximity and ambient light sensors
  • 3.5mm stereo headset jack w/TV-Out

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is slated as the first in a series of touchscreen devices from Nokia. As a first effort it’s both encouraging and a disappointment. Encouraging because the hardware and some of the software just fit very well. The Contacts Bar homescreen, excellent battery life, and multimedia facilities put just about every other smartphone on its heels.

Nevertheless, inconsistencies in the interface, too many input options, and not enough optimized software set the 5800XM back where it really should be ahead. It needs just a little more polish all around.

That all being said, it goes into and out of my pocket a lot. I really like it, despite the issues noted. And at less than $400 for an unlocked version (Cincinnati Bell is the only U.S. carrier offering it; at $150 with a 2 year contract), it’s really hard to find a better value that’s not Apple’s iPhone.

For those looking for a device that has a bit more punch than pretty much any other mid-range touchscreen offering, and aren’t opposed to purchasing unlocked devices, the 5800XM is hard to beat.


  • Good battery life
  • Loud speakers
  • Reading text from the screen


  • Inconsistent UI
  • Default software not completely optimized
  • So-so video performance



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