The mobile phone industry is in a constant state of competition, with each manufacturer bringing out their offering in the latest round of technology every few years. The current trend is the ‘touch screen’ design, popularised of course by Apple’s iPhone, which has instantly made Apple a significant player in the mobile phone industry. Since then rival phones have been brought onto the market by manufacturers such as LG and Samsung, but until now there has been no equivalent from the world’s largest mobile phone company, Nokia. One of the most obvious differences between a touch screen phone and a traditional one is the lack of an ordinary user interface. Some phones get round this by having a ‘virtual’ on screen number pad. The 5800 offers this too, but adds to the standard alpha numeric option by also offering the choice of a qwerty keyboard like entry, or even a handwriting recognition facility, and the interface features large, thumb friendly icons. In the past, this type of technology has been unreliable but recognizing the potential in increasing productivity on the phone, a lot of effort has been put into making this one of the most accurate handwriting pieces of software available to consumers. This means that you have the choice of entering data manually with your thumb, with a traditional stylus, or – uniquely – with an included plectrum, which is attached discretely to the unit, with the further choice of a full size or smaller format keyboard for qwerty entry.
The phone is clearly designed for the media age, featuring a 3.2 inch display, allowing videos to be viewed in high quality wide screen. Likewise, video recording is available at thirty FPS, and the phone’s camera offers a quality Zeiss – lensed 3.2 mega pixel digital camera (compared with the iPhone’s 2 mega pixels) and the phone has a high strength double LED flash built in. Media features on the phone are well integrated with web use. For example, pictures taken on the camera can be uploaded instantly onto web applications and social networking sites, with no intermediate software needed. Memory on the phone is upgradable, in the form of the widely used Micro SD, and the phone is currently supplied with 8 gigabytes of memory. Access to the internet is made more straightforward by Flash compatibility, meaning the phone will work with most streaming websites, in the same way a computer would. Some other devices (notably the iPhone) use a dedicated programme to enable the use of online video sites (e.g. pre installed YouTube player) which restricts use to just those websites. Like some other touch screens, the phone has an accelerometer built in, which detects movement and can be integrated with a range of features in the phone (e.g. to turn left or right in games, or even to answer or end calls). Internet connection is provided by 3G HSDPA, and the phone is Wi Fi compatible, so can be used in local networks, potentially in combination with other devices.
Another key demographic for the phone has been music lovers, as evidenced in the phone’s name. The main aspect of this is that, like others in the Nokia XpressMusic range, the phone comes with twelve month’s free subscription to Nokia’s music download service, allowing virtually unlimited access to music tracks, which can be permanently kept after use. The Nokia music store is integrated into the phone’s interface, featuring a direct link to the store from the shortcut menu. Many people looking towards a touch screen phone for music will also factor in the cost of a decent set of compatible speakers, which can cost as much as the phone itself. However, the 5800 comes complete with powerful stereo speakers built in, offering quality – and very loud – sound with no extra equipment. In terms of form, the phone does very well, offering a quality smooth polished surface to the phone, combined with a scratch avoidant non glare screen. The phone weighs in at little more than 100 grammes and measures 11 x 5 centmetres, making it reasonably pocket friendly. In playback mode, the specification battery life is a healthy 36 hours which should be more than enough for most users.
Given that the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is designed to compete on a par with the iPhone and other premium level touch screen phones, the phone offers excellent value for money. The user experience between phones is a matter of personal preference, but those looking to buy the Nokia should rest assured that no corners have been cut with inclusion of features on this phone, which is available for around half to three quarters of the total cost of an iPhone and still much cheaper than other equivalents.