Nokia 5530 XpressMusic Review - A plunge into mediocrity

By on 29 Oct 2010, 15:17 GMT
Another day, another Nokia XpressMusic phone. This time we are going to take a look at a mid-range music phone, Nokia 5530 XpressMusic.

Besides its audio-centric features, the handset comes with a resistive touchscreen and runs on the Symbian 9.4 5th Edition platform. These attributes are shared by almost all XpressMusic phones launched after Nokia 5800. The Finnish giant seems to take the XpressMusic lineup very seriously, hence the diversity of the handsets included in the series.

It looks like Nokia aims to design an XpressMusic phone for anyone, by adding or removing features from a “standard” set. Some of these handsets feature a QWERTY keyboard or a touchscreen, others have a good camera, while some simply rely on sound quality, depending on their target.

Announced in June 2009, Nokia 5530 was launched on the market in August 2009 and can be bought for about 240 US dollars without a subscription. Potential customers can choose from five available color schemes: Red on black, Blue on white, Grey on black, Pink on white and Yellow on white.

Design

Even though the XpressMusic series is one of the largest handset lineups made by Nokia, it seems that design wasn't the manufacturer's main concern.

Once Nokia 5800, the company's first touchscreen phone, was launched, the entire lineup that came afterwards looks like it has been standardized. Of course, there are some differences, but “evolution” is not the first word that comes to your mind when you compare Nokia 5800 with any other XpressMusic handset.


That doesn't mean that Nokia 5530 is an ugly device, on the contrary. This is one of the smaller smartphones of the series, at only 104 x 49 x 13 mm. It is relatively light (107g, including battery) and slim, but the main attraction is certainly the stainless steel front cover, which gives the phone a solid feel.

The 2.9-inch resistive touchscreen looks rather small in comparison with other XpressMusic touchscreen phones.

Above the display, next to the earphone speaker, there's a small light ambient sensor, a proximity sensor, as well as the Media key. Three touch keys have been placed below the screen, which I found pretty unresponsive: Accept and End calls buttons, as well as the Menu key.


The right side of the phone features a long thin volume key, a lock/unlock slide key, and a dedicated camera button. If you're wondering where Nokia placed the SIM slot, then you should know that it is on the left side covered by a very long plastic stripe. Pulling it out will reveal not only the SIM card slot, but also the memory card slot.

Combining the two slots sounds like a good idea, but I had a hard time every time I needed to pull out any of the two.

The standard power on/off button is on top of the phone as usual. The bottom of the phone is a little bit crowded as it features the charger port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a microUSB port. Nokia decided to deliver the phone with a stylus, which can be found in its slot placed in the left corner of the bar handset.


The 3.2-megapixel camera on the back of the phone features a small LED flash above and is framed by a small durable stainless steel band.

Overall, I believe that the compact, attractive design is an eye catcher, especially for youth and/or fashionistas.

Display and Camera

Nokia 5530 features a TFT 2.9-inch resistive touchscreen that supports 16 million colors with 360x640-pixel resolution, which can also be controlled with the stylus included in the sales package. Unfortunately, going back to a resistive touchscreen after using a capacitive one for a long time can cause finger damage. Seriously speaking, I had a hard time typing fast or dialing unless I was using the stylus.


On the other hand the quality of the image is unquestionably good, including brightness and contrast - at their highest level, but it becomes poor when it's exposed to sunlight. The phone also features a built-in accelerometer for display auto-rotation, which is quite snappy.

The 3.2-megapixel camera features autofocus, LED flash, geotagging and a pretty standard interface. There are no other advanced functions such as smile detection, face recognition or blink prevention. It seems Nokia simply copied over the same UI that was embedded in Nokia 5800 and N97, otherwise I cannot explain the geotagging feature, as the device does not have a built-in GPS receiver.


The camera captures pictures with a maximum resolution of 2048x1536 pixels, while video clips can be recorded using VGA@30fps. All the settings and functions can be displayed on the screen: Contrast, White Balance, ISO, Sharpness, Exposure compensation, Color tones and many more.



There's also a touch-n-shoot button on the screen, which enables users to take pictures with a simple touch instead of using the dedicated camera button. Unfortunately, the touch button lacks the "half way press" function, so you will miss the autofocus feature if you decide to use it.

The quality of the pictures is not that good, as they look too noisy and the contrast is pretty low. Check out the samples below for a more accurate opinion about the quality of the photo snapper.

Menu and Software

Nokia 5330 runs Symbian 9.4, with the S60 5th Edition interface, the same as its XpressMusic touchscreen siblings. Little to no improvements have been applied to the graphical interface, and the same goes for its functionality.


The phone features a single homescreen that can be customized to display either Contacts or Shortcut bars. The latter is limited to only four icons, which are fully customizable. Kinetic scrolling is also missing. “Clicking” near the battery icon, on the upper right corner of the homescreen will give you quick access to the clock, alarms, as well as to Connectivity settings.

To bring up the Main menu key, touch the middle key under the screen, choose Options/Organise, to rearrange the menu as you see fit.


Under the Application menu, one can find a “plethora” of apps, which are not categorized in any way: clock, notes, camera, together with RealPlayer and Video centre.

Other applications that come pre-loaded with Nokia 5330 include: complex calendar, calculator, converter, file manager, Amazon, Facebook, Friendster, Hi5, MySpace, Boingo. Under the Music sub-menu you'll find a few media-dedicated apps, such as: music player, Stereo FM Radio with RDS support, Podcasts, and Music Store.


There's also a YouTube client, which can be found in the Internet sub-menu, along with all the social network services. Two games are also available, Bounce and Global Raging Thunder, but more can be installed.

The device has a few input methods: stylus and finger touch support for text input and UI control, but the best, by, far is the stylus.

The interface is snappy when you're not running more than one application in the background, otherwise you'll experience sudden lags when opening other apps or browsing through the menus.

Communication

Nokia 5330 is a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) handset that features GPRS and EDGE class 32 as the only options for data transfer connections when you're not near a Wi-Fi hotspot.


The integrated browser is the same that was included with the older N97, but it has received some minor improvements and bug fixes. It has now full Java and Flash support, which are working nicely. Other features included in the browser: auto fill-in, RSS reader, download manager, password manager and pop-up blocker.


The lack of 3G has been supplemented by the addition of Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g connectivity. With the Connection settings shortcut on the Homescreen, accessing your connections (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) is now very easy, even though you will have to click twice to get where you need. Other connectivity tools include Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and EDR support, and microUSB for PC synchronization (no charging).


In terms of messaging, the phone offers a complete solution, accepting all available message types. I strongly recommend using the stylus when typing, for a smoother experience. The message client works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols, and supports more than one email account. Furthermore, it can download headers or full email, and supports attachments.


The quad-band smartphone has a very good GSM signal reception, but fails when it comes to in-call sound, which is very low in volume and muffled.

Processor and Memory

Nokia 5330 is powered by the same ARM11 family processor running at speeds of up to 434 Mhz that has been embedded in N97 model. The device works pretty smoothly, but I have noticed some lags when using other applications while the browser is open.


The smartphone also features 70MB internal memory, 128 MB RAM and comes with a 4GB microSD memory card in the sales package. The storage space can be expanded up to 16GB, thanks to the hot-swappable card slot.

Multimedia

The smartphone features the same standard looking music player as Nokia N97 and Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, with little to no cosmetic changes. You have five pre-installed equalizer modes: Bass booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock. Other settings are: Balance, Loudness and Stereo widening.


The device features Radio FM with RDS function as well, but lacks the FM transmitter. Reception is very good, and sound is above average. The Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support enables you to listen to music wirelessly.


The 3.5mm jack port is a good addition, as it enables you to change the earphones that are coming come with the phone (WH-205). The included video player lacks DivX and XviD codecs, so you'll need to find yourself a third-party application to play these movie files.

Speaking of quality, Nokia's 5530 music sound is pretty decent in all aspects, including the stereo speakers.

Battery

The 1,000 mAh Li-Ion (BL-4U) battery has an officially stated life expectancy of 336 hours for standby mode and 4 hours and 45 minutes for talk time mode. The manufacturer also states a play back autonomy of almost 27 hours official.

After one week of full use I only need to charge the phone once. Overall, I would say the phone has an excellent battery, which is a perfect fit for the phone's features.

Impressions

Nokia 5330 XpressMusic is one of those phones that can get unnoticed at first glance, but become your best friend as soon as you start using it. It's the perfect communication tool for a youngster or someone that wishes to stay in touch with his Facebook friends, even on the go.

However, the phone needs a little bit more work on the inside, as the interface is totally unattractive.

The Good

There's a long list of nice features that Nokia 5330 XpressMusic includes, but I would say that the strongest point is the hardware: ARM 11 434 MHz processor, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g. Anyway, here are the other highlights of Nokia 5330: microSD card (16 GB supported, 4GB included), 3.5 mm audio jack, Stereo FM Radio with RDS, Flash support for the web browser, decent audio quality, good battery life.

The Bad

The main problem with the device is its obsolete interface, which seems poor in customization options, as well as functions. I would also list the poor legibility of the display in direct sunlight, lack of smart dialing and GPS receiver, as well as the mediocre camera.

Sales Package

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


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