Nokia has made a high-class entry into the touchscreen phone market with its feature-packed Nokia Express Music 5800.
Its appearance draws heavily on the iPhone, which it has been released to compete against, with a candybar form factor, rounded corners and a glass front. But the 5800’s touchscreen isn’t as wide as that of the iPhone and the body is thicker.
The 5800’s screen resolution is 640x360 pixels with a bright, clear display. When you make a call, the screen conveniently goes dark.
Our review model was black with a metallic red strip between the front and the textured plastic back.
The layout of the unit will be familiar to users of Nokia’s N-series phones, with volume rockers and a camera shortcut button on the right side and the camera lens on the rear. The USB and charging ports sit on top and there are three buttons below the screen for starting and ending calls and accessing the menu.
The home screen has icon shortcuts for the touch number pad and the contacts stored in your phonebook. People you call or text regularly can be added to a contact bar on the home screen.
At $899, this version of the Express Music line is cheaper than an iPhone. (The cheapest iPhone 3G in New Zealand at the time of writing was $979). Like Apple’s offering, the 5800 has an accelerometer that switches between landscape and portrait views when you rotate the phone.
However, the touch interface supports only a finger or stylus press, rather than the multi-touch capability featured on the iPhone. The stylus proves far more effective for traversing the interface, as some icons are too small for those with large-fingers.
Text input methods are well covered – from an alphanumeric touch keyboard to handwriting recognition and full screen/mini QWERTY touch keyboards.
As you’d expect given this offering is part of the Express Music line, the music player works well and the sound quality when playing songs is better than many phones, when using either stereo speakers or the supplied headset.
Users can alter bass and balance, choose between five equaliser modes and play music using shuffle and repeat modes. While a tune is playing the corresponding album art will be shown, along with touch controls for play/pause, back and forward.
There’s also an FM radio and podcast support.
You can get additional tracks from your PC-stored collection via USB.
The camera allows still images up to 2048x1526 pixels and video up to 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second. There’s also an option to shoot video in widescreen at 640x352 pixels for best display on the phone. Because of the 5800’s screen quality, both still and moving pictures are clearly displayed.
The camera has all the scene and adjustment settings you need, along with a built-in editor once you’ve taken your images.
If you want to share your content online, you can access Ovi, Flickr and Vox from the photo gallery.
With the incorporation of RealPlayer, you can play and stream video and download new video files.
Nokia has included a small fold-out stand to mount the device on and watch video in landscape mode.
To store your media collection, there’s 81MB of memory built-in, with an 8GB SD card supplied. This can be upgraded to 16GB.
The unit has a GPS receiver, while Nokia provides a seven-day subscription to its mapping service.
The 5800 has a full HTML web browser with Java support and provides 3G and wi-fi connectivity. It runs on WCDMA and GSM bands, offering GPRS/EDGE for data.
Email setup is simple, with support for POP/SMTP protocols and a built-in Mail for Exchange client.
Running Symbian’s series 60 OS, the 5800 offers Adobe Flash, a key differentiator over the iPhone.
Other useful applications are a file manager, voice recorder, converter, IM and notes. There are two games installed that make use of the accelerometer, but their novelty quickly wears off. Nokia says the 5800’s battery will give users 8.8 hours talk time in GSM mode and five hours in WCDMA, with 3.4 hours of web browsing using packet data.