Review: Nokia 5800 Tube XpressMusic touch screen S60 device
I picked up my own Nokia N85 (North American version) device a couple weeks ago and posted my first impressions. I am working on a full review of the N85 to post here soon. I’ve been pretty happy with the device, but I am always interested in checking out the latest and greatest so I was pleased when Nokia sent a Nokia 5800 Tube (European model) to evaluate for a few weeks. The Nokia 5800 just launched last week in the UK and it was quite a hit with long lines of people waiting to buy the device. Nokia has actually already sold over one million 5800 devices and it just launched in the UK with no official availability here in the U.S. yet. You can pick up one from a GSM importer and I almost have pulled the trigger a couple of times, but I am trying to wait until the North American model (NAM) is launched with support for 3G on AT&T.
The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic was announced in October at Nokia World 2008 and is the latest S60 touch screen device. I was expecting the latest touch UI to come on a Nseries device, but to get the device into the hands of more people (Nseries devices are usually pretty expensive) the XpressMusic focus makes sense. When the 5800 first arrived I put it aside after a couple of minutes because I didn’t want to give up on my E71 keyboard or even N85 keypad and go to an all touch device. I then decided to just keep my T-Mobile SIM in the device and push forward with an evaluation. I am glad I did because I found I REALLY like the 5800 and am actually probably going to be buying myself one sooner, rather than later. I understand a North American (3G support with AT&T) model will be coming some time, but may get an international one because with T-Mobile it doesn’t matter. The 5800 will be available at Nokia flagship stores for a price around US$350 and is available now via online importers for just over US$400.
In the box: The evaluation unit I was sent came in a Ziploc baggie with USB cable and TV out cable so I can’t tell you first hand what is included in the box. Looking at the Nokia USA website I see that they have listed the following for box contents: 5800 with stylus, BL-5J battery, charger, stereo headset, video-out cable, microUSB cable, 8GB microSDHC card (nice bonus here), carrying case, stand, wrist strap stylus, extra pen stylus, User Guide and Quick Start Guide.
Out of the box (bag) first impressions: After pulling the Nokia 5800 Tube out of the bag, I was a bit surprised by the thickness of the device since it almost felt like you could have a keyboard slide-out from under the display. I am not saying it is super thick, but it is a bit chunky when you compare it to the Nokia E71 (my favorite device) and I would have expected a higher quality camera with this thickness. It isn’t heavy though and the width is perfect for a phone device. It feels quite solid and I do like the soft touch back cover. The display looks amazing due to its high resolution/size and is the best S60 device display I have seen to date. Fonts are crisp and clear and the display is bright. I also immediately felt the haptics when the display was touched which adds a sense of interactivity.
Specifications: The specifications for the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic include:
- Quad-band GSM/EDGE:1900/1800/900/850 MHz
- UMTS/HSDPA: 2100/1900 MHz (There will be a 850 MHz model soon.)
- S60 5th Edition operating system
- ARM 11 369 MHz processor
- 81MB internal dynamic memory
- microSD card slot with SDHC support (8GB card included)
- Integrated GPS/A-GPS receiver
- 802.11 b/g WiFi
- Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
- 3.2 inch 640×360 widescreen (16:9) display with support for up to 16 million colors
- 3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual-LED flash lights
- 3.5 mm headset jack
- Stereo FM radio with RDS support
- 1320 mAh battery (BL-5J)
- Weight: 3.84 ounces
- Length: 4.37 inches
- Width: 2.04 inches
- Thickness: 0.61 inches
A walk around the hardware: The first thing you will notice about the Nokia 5800 is the absolutely gorgeous high resolution 3.2 inch 640×360 display. Those in Europe can pick up the 5800 for an extremely low, even free, price and you probably wouldn’t expect the display to be this great on such a device. The fonts are crisp and clear and video plays back wonderfully on the 16:9 display with 16 million color capability. The display is resistive, compared to the capacitive display on the iPhone. This means it generally take a stylus or fingernail to work with the display. However, Nokia has done a good job with the display and I actually find that a finger press works just fine and I have found little need for the stylus or changing my finger orientation. The soft key button on the bottom appear larger and finger friendly and I have been extremely impressed by the responsiveness of the display and reactivity of the OS.
There isn’t much else on the front of the device since the display takes up so much room. Below the display you will find the send and end buttons (backlit in green and red, respectively) and center menu button (backlit in white). The menu button toggles you between the standby screen and the menu area where all your applications can be found. Pressing the send button takes you to the phone interface where you can interact with your contacts (call or text them) or dial a number directly with the on-screen keypad.
Above the display is the XpressMusic button (backlit small area to the right side of the top) that gives you quick access to your music, photos, Share Online, videos, and the web browser. This button is very useful for bouncing quickly to the most used media aspects of the device and the menu can be accessed from within any program at any time as it functions as a quick launcher.
Along the top you will find the now standard microUSB port (a hard plastic cover protects the opening), 3.5mm headset jack (yeah Nokia!), standard Nokia charging port, and flush power button. Pressing the power button once gives you quick access to your profiles and holding it down turns the device off.
On the left side is where the SIM card slot and microSD card slot are located under covers that are integrated well into the side. In order to take out the SIM card you actually need to take out the battery and use the stylus to slide it out of the opening.
The right side is where you will find the volume rocker (top), lock switch (center), and camera activation button. I can’t tell you how much I really do enjoy using something as simple as the lock switch. With a full touch screen interface it would be easy to accidentally press things on the display, but a quick flip of the lock switch (it is a spring loaded switch) locks the display. Then when you pick up the 5800 and want to do something a quick flip of it unlocks the device for immediate usage. I use this button all the time and appreciate its capability.
The only thing on the bottom is the microphone opening. Looking at the back you will find something you haven’t seen on a S60 device before and that is the stylus silo down on the bottom right. The stylus has nice length, but is too light (all plastic) for my personal liking and I would have liked to have seen a few ounces added to the weight to get a heftier stylus. You will find though that you really do not need the stylus that much to use the device.
The entire back of the device is made of soft touch material and is removable by pulling up on the bottom. Under the cover you will find the large 1320 mAh battery (BL-5J). Towards the top of the back you will find the 3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash lights. The camera takes decent photos in good lighting, but I found that photos were a bit grainy in low light conditions.
One styling aspect about the device that I like is the band of color wrapping around both sides and the bottom. The 5800 comes in red or blue and this color band is a semi-reflective and adds a nice touch to the device.
Text entry methods: So how about text entry on the device? As you will find out here on Nokia Experts, I am a HUGE hardware QWERTY keyboard fan and love my E71 for being the most productive I can be. Nokia provides you with a few options for entering text, including a full screen QWERTY keyboard that switches you into landscape mode (if you were not already there) and offers you large buttons that you can press with your fingers or thumbs. As you press each key, it pops out above your finger to confirm which letter was pressed and also give you a little vibration with the haptics integration. The character preview function and haptics feature can both be managed with settings too.
There are also alphanumeric keypad (phone keypad), mini-QWERTY, and handwriting recognition text entry methods available on the 5800. The mini-QWERTY and handwriting recognition require the use of the stylus and are actually decent input methods, but I stuck with the full screen QWERTY most of the time.
Cut, copy, and paste are also supported on the 5800 so no worries there.
Everyday usage experiences: I avoided turning this into an “iPhone killer” review because if you look at the specifications, flexibility, and openness of each platform the Nokia 5800 is so far above the iPhone that it is not an apples to apples comparison. The iPhone has a nice UI and applications, but is more limited than most all feature phones (no MMS, limited Bluetooth support, no tethering, no video capture support, no camera flash, and on and on). So let’s just take a look at the 5800 for what it is, a S60 device with a new way of navigation thrown on it.
Nokia has done a pretty good job with the UI tweaks to make it touch friendly, but there are still areas that need some work. Sometimes when you tap on the display nothing seems to happen. You then find that tapping again (double tapping) activates the selection. In general, items in lists have to be double tapped to open. It does take a while to get used to this double tap/single tap experience and there are arguments for and against using these methods in the OS. I now don’t find it to be that much of an issue, but it may be an area that frustrates you at first.
As I stated earlier, I am surprised by how responsive the display is to my finger tap. With most Windows Mobile devices and their resistive displays you definitely need a stylus or fingernail to make selections and use the device. If you didn’t know much about the two types of display technologies then you may not even figure out that the 5800 isn’t a capacitive display.
There are different standby screen options, like the very useful Contacts bar that lets you select up to four main contacts to interact with and view their history on the standby screen. This includes seeing their RSS feeds on the standby screen.
The device has an accelerometer so you can easily switch between portrait and landscape modes by rotating the device. You can also turn this off if you don’t like the automatic switching. The accelerometer can be used to silence phone calls, snooze alarms, or auto-rotate. This is handy for when a phone call comes in since you can just flip over the device and silence it.
Pricing and availability: The Nokia 5800 is not yet available from the Nokia USA site and when it does come I imagine it will be priced between US$350 and US$400. You can pick one up now (I may in the next week) from US importers for right around US$400. Remember though that these devices do not support 3G data speeds in the U.S.
Conclusion: The Nokia 5800 impressed me much more than I thought it would and I am happy I had the chance to try one out in person or I may never have tried one. I am actually more excited about the upcoming Nokia N79 N97 now too after trying out the touch UI on a S60 device. If you want the power and flexibility of a S60 device, yet also want a touch screen, then the 5800 is a great choice. The display is fantastic and I like the device so much more than I thought I would that I am fairly certain I will pick one up for myself soon. There are still some issues with all of your favorite software working on the device, but with the fast paced sales of the 5800 I am very confident developers will update their programs to work just fine in a timely manner.
Other reviews: One thing I love about the internet is the ability to find lots of great information, especially when it comes to people’s thought on mobile devices. I always read multiple reviews of devices before making purchase decisions because each review is an opinion of that particular person from their perspective and they may be using devices differently than I do. There is a ton to talk about with the 5800 as well and a couple other reviews that offer extremely intensive looks at the device can be found below: