Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:56:05 PM
Great look and sound, bright screen and innovative interface.
Quirky touch interface and lack of features such as 3G and GPS.
The success of the earlier 5800 XpressMusic – apparently it was the biggest-selling MP3 player in the UK earlier this year – has certainly left large shoes to fill. Yet the 5530 XpressMusic, featuring Nokia’s unbeatably straightforward user interface, is willing to have a good crack at it. It may be lacking a few high-end features, but then, who actually needs 3G, really? Sure, smartphones are good for internet surfing, but they often come in the form of pricey touch-screen models.
The 5530 XpressMusic model is smaller than its predecessor and has a reduced feature set – there’s no GPS unit, for instance – but this makes it very affordable. The phone sits comfortably in the hand, though some may find the smaller display just too diddy. The handset’s Wi-Fi capabilities enable internet surfing, but the screen size doesn’t really allow for anything more than the odd perusal online.
Nokia has so far only made touch-screen phones with resistive displays. These are pressure sensitive, as opposed to those pricier, better-looking capacitive screens used on handsets such as the iPhone.
But Nokia has tricks up its sleeve to make the most of this: for a start, the screen resolution is high enough to make the 2.9-inch display look good. Even better, it has a 16 million colour palette and it’s very bright. Nokia has clearly taken pains with the screen design, so the display is altogether outstandingly vibrant.
Resistive screens have the advantage that you don’t need to use a naked finger to work them. You can wear thick gloves, which is handy if you’re making a call outside on a cold day. Or you can navigate the screen with a stylus.
There’s one built into the 5530 XpressMusic’s casing. It may feel brittle, but it’s reasonably serviceable. And a stylus means you can turn to other features like handwriting recognition, which is always fun. It’s slow but accurate and a huge step forward from other handwriting programs we’ve seen.
Nokia’s interface is refreshingly inventive: the media button at the top of the touch-screen launches music, camera, internet and other functions. And the contacts you can choose directly from the home screen are useful, too.
Using the resistive screen to navigate around the phone did feel long-winded at times. For example, find the right item in the menu and jab it once to highlight it, and then a second time to activate it – a process that felt a little cumbersome.
As part of the XpressMusic family, this phone is designed with MP3s in mind, so it’s a relief to see the inclusion of the all important 3.5mm headset port. The supplied headphones aren’t bad, but the ability to choose is definitely welcome. Music is stored on a microSD card and the phone comes with one of 4GB capacity. While this doesn’t even match an iPod nano, it’s a good start.
The camera is a reasonable 3.2-megapixel resolution with LED flash, there are speakers at either end of the phone for music playback, plus little extras such as radio, dictionary and unit converter apps. The accelerometer is speedy and responsive, so images reformat satisfyingly as you tip the phone.
Whether the Nokia 5530 XpressMusic has what it takes to steal the 5800’s crown remains to be seen. But as an affordable touch-screen with excellent music capabilities, it’s definitely one to consider. In a nutshell, this is a phone aimed at being cute and simple, with enough wow factor to turn heads.