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Nokia 5310 XpressMusic review

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The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is sharpened up, shaped up and slimmed down successor to Nokia’s original fun and funky XpressMusic music mobiles, the 5300 and 5700. The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is pitched at the affordable end of Nokia’s music mobile range, and is a quad-band GSM/GPRS model rather than a 3G handset.

The 5310 inherits some of the striking design traits of its predecessors – notably the contrasting red or blue strips next to the screen on which dedicated music player controls are ranged. But the 5310 XpressMusic is a much sleeker and more stylish proposition.

Thin is still in for mobiles, and the 5310 cuts it at 9.9mm slim, weighing a pocket-friendly 71g. It’s designed in black and graphite grey, with the coloured contrast strips given a metallic sheen by aluminium side panelling. The control keys are raised slightly, with diamond cut symbols giving them a tactile feel. With a straightforward plastic keypad layout, and bright 2-inch QVGA display, this has a classic candybar feel with just a little twist.

The music player is obviously the star of the show here, although there is also an FM radio onboard which works in conjunction with the supplied stereo headphones. Following its usual music phone philosophy, Nokia has usefully built in a 3.5mm headphone socket for this model, allowing users to upgrade the supplied headphones to any standard pair.

The internal memory on the 5310 is a modest 30MB, but Nokia supplies the 5310 with a hefty 2GB MicroSD memory card in the box, providing plenty of track room to be getting on with. Additional cards, up to 4GB in capacity, can be added (the MicroSD slot is hot-swappable, but tucked away on the side under the back panel).

The 5310 also features a standard-issue 2-megapixel camera on the back panel, which has a 4x digital zoom at lower resolutions, and shoots video clips at a low res 176×144 pixels maximum resolution.

Switch on the music player, by either heading into the Media section of the main Menu or by using one of the shortcuts on the Active Standby page. The familiar Nokia Series 40 3rd Edition user interface allows you to configure shortcuts yourself, and the D-pad menu navigation control and softkeys can also be set for fast access to functions of your own choosing. Tunes can be browsed in familiar music player categories – by songs, playlists, artists, albums genres and also videos. The music player here supports MP3, MP4, AAC, eAAc , and WMA file formats, plus you can add album art too.

And Nokia doesn’t drop the ball when it comes to all-important music performance. The music player here can produce excellent quality. Trying it out with a standard pair of in-box Nokia stereo headphones, you get a reasonable enough sound, but we’d recommend taking advantage of the 3.5mm jack socket on the top of the phone to upgrade to a better set than the ones Nokia supplies – like most MP3 player in-box ‘phones, they’re limited. Plug in a decent set of heaphones and you’ll hear a fine quality audio performance, well balanced with plenty of bass and sonic range. It’s a treat to the ears, particularly coming from such a competitively priced handset.

The 2-megapixel camera built into the 5310 can produce perfectly acceptable shots, although overall its snaps are fairly average quality, as you might expect at this price point. Colours can appear a bit subdued and the lack of autofocus or macro limits the flexibility of the camera for close ups. Low light conditions don’t suit this camera either. Images take a few seconds to process and save after pics have been snapped, too. You can see examples of shots in our article Nokia 5310 XpressMusic camera samples. Video recording is OK for basic fun shots, but playback is in low quality resolution.

There’s a spread of other appealing features slotted in the 5310. Some Nokia standards include an email client, organiser functions, voice recorder and an XHTML full web browser (though running on GPRS rather than 3G, it’s obviously not particularly speedy)

To improve browsing options, though, Nokia has tucked away an Opera Mini browser in its Applications folder. This is optimised for small screen rendering of web pages, delivering them quickly in scroll down fashion.

Without 3G, using only GPRS speed data, downloading tunes over the air or videos would be a relatively lengthy business, but Nokia has provided some additional web-based services for 5310 owners.

Nokia has loaded the 5310 with Yahoo! Go software, which provides a mini suite of customisable Yahoo! applications and services set up on a home screen. These include news, sports and weather updates, access to Flickr and Yahoo! Mail and local maps and guides, plus more.

Within its applications folder Nokia has also introduced its WidSets installer app, enabling you to download the WidSets mobile widgets application from Nokia.

WidSets allows you to view a wide range of tailored widgets arranged on your phone screen. These are effectively handy mini apps that deliver updated information from blogs and online services straight to your phone, using feeds from the web. It gives you the option of pulling updates for some of your favourites sites or blogs together on one page (see www.widsets.com for more information), and getting regular updates pushed to your phone rather than having to use the browser to go online. It’s a neat app we’re sure you’ll be hearing much more of in the near future.

Nokia has installed a couple more apps, including a Wallpaper creator application, My Nokia text updates service, and an interesting Bluetooth-range social networking application, Sensor. Sensor enables 5310 owners to interact with other Sensor users in close proximity (around 10 metres), by creating folios users can browse and guestbooks users can write messages in. Three games are included too – City Bloxx, Snake III, and Music Guess (using your stored tracks to play name-that-tune).

While Nokia has been making much recently of its multi-gigabyte music mobiles at the top end of the market, it’s not really hit the style mark before with the sort of handsets Sony Ericsson has been pumping out in its mid- to low-end Walkman range. With the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic, though, Nokia is offering a thinline alternative, with a fresh look and novel feature set – and an affordable price – that will certainly grab much more attention from music phone buyers.

Nokia 5310 XpressMusic info

Typical price: £170 SIM-free

Latest Nokia 5310 XpressMusic Prices

Pros:
2GB MicroSD memory card
Thin design
Cutting edge music player
Yahoo! Go software
Cons:
No 3G

Verdict: A slimline music orientated handset that will appeal to those wanting to ditch their iPod

Rating:

Download: Nokia 5310 XpressMusic user manual and software
More info: Nokia 5310 XpressMusic microsite

Nokia 5310 XpressMusic Technical Specifications

Recycle your phone: Sell Nokia 5310 XpressMusic

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