Nokia 5800 Xpress Music phone review ??? iPhone substitute?

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I bought a Nokia 5800 in preference to an iPhone, mainly because I still have 6 months to run on my existing mobile contract with 3.  The price was also a factor with the Nokia costing 1/3 the amount of an iPhone.

The photo above shows my Nokia 5800 complete with screen protector and the protective rubberised casing that clips around the body.  (I’m in the Lake District at the moment so there isn’t a mobile phone signal to receive!). 

Rather than duplicate what many others have posted I have just listed what I perceive as the strong and weak points of the phone.

Strong points

  • The touch screen is pretty good, and compared to my previous Nokia N95 the applications have been modified successfully to work with the touch-screen (although the discrepancy between single and double taps is confusing).
  • The colours are bright and clear inside as the photo shows, the display is harder to read outside, but not impossible.
  • Predictive texting with the alphanumeric keypad is very quick and easy, much more so than using the full qwerty on-screen keyboard.
  • There are a number of well established applications for receiving podcasts, accessing email and social networking (Facebook, Shazam) that work reasonably well.
  • The contacts list/calendar can be synced with Google – automatically!
  • Available apps not restricted by Apple (why should a US phone company have apps blocked that UK phone companies might not object to) – Skype and Fring both available for cheap calls with no restrictions.  No walled garden here.
  • Ability to use a stylus, which is hidden away in the battery cover of the Nokia.
  • JoikuSpot makes it possible to share the 3G data connection on an occasional basis without being fleeced by O2 and Apple’s partners.
  • Push email is excellent (when there isn’t a back-log and you have network coverage).

Weak points

  • 2G reception is extremely poor.  Whilst walking around the Lake District my partner was able to receive a strong signal and make calls whilst I was not even able to pick up a 2G signal, let alone use it.  3G reception seems a little better, but not the best phone I’ve had.
  • Applications are thin on the ground and hard to locate.  Choice is poor
  • Ovi (the Nokia Apps store/portal) seems designed with the aim of causing maximum confusion to the user. Pricing in the store is totally unrealistic.
  • Loading music on the phone using Windows Media Centre or the Nokia Music software is no where near as intuitive as using iTunes.
  • Having to prise out the rubber plug on the top of the phone to sync music with the PC.
  • No random shuffle function for randomly playing tracks.
  • Can be sluggish, pausing between some applications and menus.

This phone feels like an upgrade from my 18 month old Nokia N95, which was starting to look dated.  Whilst the interface has moved forward, Nokia seems to be relying on their name and reputation rather than innovation to drive sales.  The temptation to ditch my contract grows stronger day by day as I see what my friends can do with their iPhones.  I don’t know how much longer I can hold out 🙂

Update:  Check out the follow up post (including a review of the Nokia music store) here.

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