Review: Nokia 5530 XpressMusic device

You may recall a few months ago when I posted on the Nokia Conversations Pass the Parcel promotion and I was getting pretty excited when Nokia Experts ended up still eligible to win the prize towards the end. Most people speculated that the device was a Nokia N97, but it turns out it was a Nokia 5530 XpressMusic device. I never gave the device much thought after that and was kind of ho-hum on the device. Nokia then sent me one to try for 30 days and I have to say it is much more impressive than I had imagined. The 5530 has a beautiful display that at first I thought was AMOLED it was so bright with such black colors, but it turns out it is a standard Nokia display with lots of pixels packed into a smaller size than seen on some other devices.

The 5530 XM looks to be a lower cost alternative to the Nokia 5800 XM with some more modern design features like the flush display and more compact form factor. A couple of wireless technologies are missing from the 5530 XM, as detailed below in the specifications section.

In the box

The brightly colored box that was sent to me was HUGE and completely different than any recent Nokia device that was packed in a very small box. I have no idea why Nokia used such a large box and hope this isn’t what we actually see from the retail package shipping from Nokia USA. There was on a charger and small USB cable in the review box, but listed on the Nokia USA site you should find the following in the retail package:

  • Nokia 5530 XpressMusic
  • Nokia Battery BL-4U
  • Nokia Travel Charger AC-8U
  • Nokia Short Connectivity Cable CA-101
  • Nokia Stereo Headset WH-205
  • Nokia 4GB microSD memory card MU-41
  • MiniDVD
  • User Guide

When you first pull the 5530 out of the box, I think you will be as impressed as I was with the compact form factor that feels great in your hand. The silver front highlighting around the display looks great and the highlight stripe (blue on this unit) is stylish too.

Specifications

Specifications for the Nokia 5530 XM are the about the same around the world since there is no 3G wireless radio and include the following:

  • Quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) with EDGE data support
  • 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • 2.9 inch 640 x 360 pixels touchscreen display
  • S60 5th Edition
  • microSD card slot (4GB card included)
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • BL-4U 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • 3.2 megapixel camera with 15 fps video support
  • Dimensions: 4.09 x 1.92 x 0.51 inches and 3.77 ounces

The Nokia 5530 XM is available in black with red accents and white with blue accents. The eval unit I have is the white one with blue accents around the edges.

This is not a high end Nokia device and is not as feature packed as the Nokia 5800 with the integrated GPS receiver and 3G wireless radio missing from the list of specifications. However, it is a reasonably priced unit with some decent features and great looks.

Around the hardware

The 2.9 inch 640×360 pixels display, with 16.7 million color support, takes up most of the front of the Nokia 5530 and in all honesty I thought the display was an OLED display with the super bright colors and black blacks. It is one of the best displays I have seen on a phone and the high resolution and smaller size work very well together. There are no hardware keys on the front, but the send, end and menu buttons are actually areas in the black band below the display. There is no differentiation between display and bottom band, but the virtual buttons are lit up. Another excellent button/area on the Nokia 5530 XpressMusic device is the XpressMusic area found in the upper right above the display. I loved this on the Nokia 5800 and would like to see this implemented on all touchscreen devices.

Tapping on the XpressMusic area makes a menu appear down the right side where you are presented with quick shortcuts to music, photos, Ovi Share, movies, and the S60 web browser. Personally, these are the primary areas/functions I use so having these shortcuts readily available is quite valuable. It would be cool to be able to customize these shortcuts too since I do use Gravity for Twitter quite a bit as well.

Looking up at the top of the 5530 XM you will find one of the stereo speaker openings and the power switch. On the bottom is where you will find the other stereo speaker opening, microUSB port, 3.5mm headset jack, standard Nokia charging port, and stylus. Yes, there is a plastic stylus in the unit, but the only reason I pulled it out was to slide out the SIM card. Use microUSB for charging?

The stylus runs up a silo on the left side with the access at the bottom. There is a long plastic door/cover on the bottom half of the left side that hides the microSD card slot and SIM card slot. The SIM card slot is similar to the Nokia 5800 XM and you have to remove the back cover and battery to remove the SIM card with the stylus sliding it out the slot.

Along the right side you will find the volume toggle buttons, lock switch (one of my favorite buttons from the 5800 and N97), and camera button.

A 3.2 megapixel digital camera (captures video at 15 fps) and single LED flash light are centered on the upper back. The entire back is removable and is a very flimsy thin piece of plastic that seems like it could break over time with lots of removal and replacement. You need to remove the back cover just to get the SIM card out, but the microSD card is accessible from an external port so for most people they will not be pulling this off very often.

Thoughts on software and functionality

Nokia updated the Contacts bar capability on the 5530 XM compared to the 5800 XM with the new ability to add more photo contacts to your standby screen where you can simply flick the contact photos side to side and see 2 full faces and half of two more in one view. I have more than four (the standard on the 5800) and appreciate this new layout to quickly call, text, and email my family. I have four shortcuts on the bottom of my standby screen and other widgest/control/notifications appear as well. For example, the media player controller is a nice function that I use quite a bit.

I also immediately noticed some updated smooth transitions that appear as you launch apps, go to different menus, and perform other functions on the device.

You will find all the standard S60 5th Edition apps and utilities loaded on the 5530 XM, including the S60 browser, Facebook app, YouTube, FM radio, Nokia Podcasting, Nokia Music Store (worthless to me in the US), Bounce game, Global Race Raging Thunder game, Dictionary, Ovi Store, and more. This is a media focused, lower cost device so there is no business focused apps like QuickOffice and Mail for Exchange. Everything seemed to work fluidly and there was ample phone memory available for loading apps and running them with no worries (unlike even some high end devices like the N97).

I primarily used the Nokia 5530 XM for those times when I wanted to travel light and fast. Phone calls sounded great and reception on T-Mobile was very good. I used it quite a bit for text messaging and found the landscape on-screen keyboard, with haptic support, to be very functional. I still want to see threaded text messaging support and a bit better support for touch though since there are still a couple of steps needed where the device flip flops between portrait and landscape to complete some steps.

Conclusion, price and availability

I have very little expectations for the Nokia 5530 XM and came away pretty impressed. The hardware is solid, RF reception and call quality are very good, and the display looks fantastic. It is not a device I would personally purchase because I want it all (GPS and 3G) in my devices and still prefer hardware keyboards. I imagine this will be free as a subsidized phone and if 3G is not a need then it may be a very attractive device that is pocketable in even the smallest pocket.

As I just posted about yesterday, you can find the unlocked Nokia 5530 XM at Costco for $249.99. It most likely will not come to a US wireless carrier, but is showing up as a pre-order device on Nokia USA for $289.99, with a free MD-8 portable speaker ($39.95 value).

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Specs: 3.5
  • Form factor: 4.5
  • Customizability: 5
  • Ease of use: 4.5

Overall: 4/5

starStarStarStar

Pros

  • Sleek, slim, solid hardware
  • Brilliant high resolution display
  • Solid RF reception and phone call quality
  • Good media player

Cons

  • No 3G wireless data or GPS receiver
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21 Comments to Review: Nokia 5530 XpressMusic device

Nokia 5530 | Bibiblog
September 26, 2009

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css
November 30, 2009

Now its just $129 from dell after $50 MIR and $100 instant savings.

Nick Morgan
December 1, 2009

Its a good looking handset from nokia, No Wi-fi. Little bit behind in competition
Sr. Admin

Music Phone
December 1, 2009

I am really happy with this phone (Trust me). Touchscreen sensitivity is very good. Sound quality is amazing (Premium headset indeed). Just GPS maybe was desirable in this phone.

mrsamuelable
December 5, 2009

hi! is it really that nokia 5530xm able to listen music up to 27 hours for a single charge? tq

[…] Review: Nokia 5530 Xpress&#77usic […]

utari
July 8, 2010

nokia 5530 is the best smartphone, i love it

chai
July 16, 2010

nice review… simple style with great functional

Faisal Saidi
August 3, 2010

I have a v. important question: I have a 5530 phone and it takes ages for it to send a text message. As soon as I push the SEND button, I have to wait quite a while before it actually gets sent. What’s wrong here? Anybody has any answers?

free design
October 14, 2011

I’m using is 5530 phone, its function is very strong

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