Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Hands-On

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic box
Image by RafeB via Flickr

Over the past few weeks I got a chance to put the relatively new Nokia 5800 XpressMusic through it’s paces and see how it holds up against my current Nokia N95. This was a pretty important trial run for me as my N95 is starting to take strain physically, although internally it’s still better than ever. Presumably my next upgrade will be to the Nokia N97, but with the cellphone companies doing their best to price-gouge consumers, I was glad to get the chance to see what was available lower down in the more affordable regions of the Nokia range.

The first thing I did was to use the built-in migration tool to migrate every stitch of data from my N95 to the 5800. This is the first time I’ve had that ability directly between phones, and I must say its super-handy. I did have a number of hiccups getting the connection working at first, and these were only solved by specifically setting the direction of data transfer to send from the N95 to the 5800.

Quickly after that I checked the firmware version, which sadly showed firmware 11.0.008 (RM-356). Nokia early-release firmwares are traditionally known to be slower and less feature filled, so I quickly navigated with the comfortable touch screen to the Over-The-Air update utility, which simply didn’t work. True, that could also have been the fault of the Vodacom pay-as-you-go card I’d been using at first.

Nokia 5800
Image by kaosproject via Flickr

Fortunately I could run Nokia Software Updater from my PC, which showed that firmware version 20.0.012 was available to South African users. This promised a significant set of improvements. A few hours later the phone was up to the latest and greatest software version, which seemed to provide a nice set of comfortable tweaks and general improvements. Another bonus was the user-data preservation feature, which meant I didn’t have to restore all my user data after the phone update.

The GPS at first seemed to work really-quickly – but I was deceived – it takes better advantage of A-GPS than my N95 – but the more I used the GPS the more it reminded me of my current, slow, N95, so nothing new there. Give it ten minutes and it’ll figure out where you are, or you’ll be at your destination. For some reason it’s still a long way off the performance of the GPS that comes in the Nokia 6210 Navigator.

The phone has loads of other smart features – 16:9 video playback, reasonable speakers (disappointing for a ‘music’ phone), good vibrating touch feedback from the screen, a fairly responsive accelerometer, handwriting recognition, and it comes with a plectrum and a proper stylus, but in the end the most useful and fastest method of input turned out to be plain-old t9 predictive text. The QWERTY solutions were too slow and could not be used one-handed. One of the best funky features that has been thrown in the S60 package is the ability to silence a call by simply turning the device face down! Very cool. Compared to my N95 the camera is rubbish in anything less than broad daylight, but it still beats the iPhone camera hands down!

There are still issues that could have been worked out before this phone was released:

Nokia 5800
Image by kaosproject via Flickr

– The silly plastic clips holding the battery cover in place are guaranteed to break within a year or so, ultimately turning the shiny candy-bar format phone into a sticky-sellotaped shiny candy-bar format phone.

– The placement of the memory stick and SIM card slots is alright, if a little bit weird.

– No USB charging. Really, Nokia. It’s 2009 already. Get it right. I don’t give a damn about your charger-sales business. The phone is expensive enough to cover that.

– A phone cover is included, but useless for anything other than rendering the phone completely inaccessible.

– The phone feels like it should slide open. Everyone I handed it to had a first instinct to try and slide it open. That’s a sure sign of a design flaw.

Nokia 5800
Image by kaosproject via Flickr

– Greasy fingerprint smudges on the screen – not Nokia’s fault, but the curse of the modern cellphone I guess.

Basically, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic gets two-thumbs up – the overall package is very agreeable to me as a Nokia user and proved a pleasure to use as a primary phone for the few weeks I spent using it.

[Tempting though the 5800 may be, I think my heart is still set on the N97]

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15 Comments

  1. Hey Shaun, you’re the same guy who used to blog on My Digital Life? I found you via Afrigator. Cool blog.

    Btw, this is Charmed.

  2. Fuck me Shaun, I thought you had hijacked TomsHardware for a minute or two

  3. Hi Shaun

    I’ve got an iPhone at the moment and was wondering if I’ll be able to transfer all my cool apps to the Nokia 5800 using the built-in mitigation tool you mentioned. Can’t live without my iBeer, iFish and iLighter apps.

    Thanks

    Your biggest fan

  4. I’v said it a 100 times, Nokia should adopt the Jockey underpant slogan… “Nokia or NOTHING!”

    Had a look @ the 5800 while you had it, and I agree. For a mid range phone it is great, but my next upgrade should also be the N97. Hope the Finns don’t disappoint.

  5. @Cynicster Yeah, yeah, whatever ๐Ÿ™‚
    The 5800 ain’t no JesusPhone, ok, but at least it *can* run all its apps in the background… ๐Ÿ˜›

    @JMAV I’ll take that as a compliment?! Thanks for actually reading the article.

    @ledigheid I found the N97 demo model’s touch screen to be a lot more responsive, and its got the FM transmitter, so it’s looking very positive (except the price).

    @griffin Hopeless, utterly hopeless – you can’t even follow a thread – go pour yourself another drink.

  6. WTF…i went & got the 5800 but i cant find the carrying case anywhere. Did i just get ripped off by vodacom.

  7. @brodav01 It’s that black speaker-looking thingy in the last picture in the review above. It should be there. I accidentally managed to not give back the one I received with the review phone, so it’s quite possible Vodacom is dealing you a short straw.

  8. @Shaun thanks for the response. I have spoekn to vodacom 7 apparently only the launch versions of the 5800 came out with the carry case & display stand. The USB cable is also much shorter. according to vdacom the case can now only be bought from nokia itself.

  9. i’ve just migrated (not yet sure upgraded) from sony ericsson to the 5800.
    on my sonyericsson all my contact birthdays were automatically included in the calender. but cant seem to find that option on the 5800.
    is it there or not?

  10. When will you be getting your hands on the N97? I too am looking to upgrade my N95 as it’s starting to show it’s age. I’ve played with a 5800 in the last couple days & it shows promise, but not as much functionality as I would like. Do you know the launch date for N97 locally? Thanks for all the info

  11. @alpha bravo I’m not sure how well the calendar function ties in with the contacts, but I’m pretty sure it should. Perhaps the field mappings are not the same with the Symbian software. Let me know if you find out.

    @Celt I can’t wait for the N97 myself. Haven’t been able to really test it barring a few minutes spent playing on an early demo of the phone. I initially heard a launch date of August, but later heard (unofficially) that it could be in South Africa as early as June 2009. I think it’s very operator-dependent at this stage, and brace yourself for a hefty price tag. I’ll see if I can confirm it with my Nokia contact.

  12. I got my 5800 about a month ago from a Vodashop at Pavilion. Pretty much a bit disappointed. Turns out no carry case or stand and the USB cable is about two inches long…WTF!?! Also my phone occasionally loses all the data on the memory card: maps, music, EVERYTHING! What the hell!?! I guess I’m just another pratt getting ripped off by the man. Oh well…maybe I can sell it. Anyone know if Voadcom will let us update our firmware to v21?

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