Thanks to David Lian, I’ve got myself a review unit of the highly anticipated Nokia XpressMusic 5800 phone for a couple weeks to play with. The phone has been returned since and I am currently suffering withdrawal symptoms. I constantly try to touch icons on my N82 and try to move the screens around to scroll web pages.. ahh.
However, I shall not digress, here is my take on the XpressMusic 5800.
full screen qwerty keyboard & hand writing recognition
Size and Form Factor:
First off, I really like the fact that the phone is only as big as the N82 and weigh pretty much the same. Most other touch screen phones such as the various Windows Mobile devices are generally much larger and wider, and thus not terribly usable especially when you try to operate it with only one hand. The 5800 fits nicely in the pocket and snugs into my palm comfortably.
On the side of the phone you find 2 volume buttons, a slider for lock/unlock, and a dedicated camera button. A power button can be found on top of the device, and just underneath the screen exists the call button in green, menu button in white, and the hang up button in red. I find the semi-minimalistic approach pretty nifty when it comes to answering calls and adjusting volumes (especially when you are playing music and browsing web pages, not needing to flip applications back and forth is really useful)
mini qwerty, simulated keypad, XpressMusic player
As a Media Device:
XpressMusic phones, as the name suggests, is aim at music lovers. In this regard, the 5800 does not disappoint. The device is bundled with an 8gb microSD card, stereo headphones, and very impressive external speakers that can fill up a small room pretty good.
The 640×360 resolution screen (qHD – quarter HD) is a godsend for browsing webpages. If you compare that to the N82’s 240×320 display, it fits exactly 3 times as much information on the screen. Double tap on the screen when viewing a webpage will zoom it to “very large” size, double tap again to restore back to original resolution, very useful. You can also zoom the display of a webpage in and out by percentage.
The 3.2 megapixel camera though, is rather noisy at low light condition and the pictures are miles away from the capability of my trusted N82. Put in the 5MP camera and xenon flash and the phone would be unstoppable.
As some of you might have already known, the 5800 employs resistive touchscreen technology (instead of capacitive such as the iPhone). The benefit of this technology is that a stylus (and indeed provided), finger, or even nails, can be used. Skin contact is not necessary.
There are actually four different ways to input text. There is the full screen qwerty keyboard, best operate with both thumbs; the mini qwerty that is usually tapped with stylus; the simulated keypad option with T9 support; and handwriting recognition that supports both English and Chinese input. No fancy two finger gestures to zoom in and out of a webpage, but your China-imported girlfriend with nail extension can compose an SMS to you.
Personally I find myself reverting back to the simulated keypad with T9 a lot. As you touch the screen, a very subtle vibration gives you an affirmation of your action. A nice touch.
I think Nokia has done it right with their first touch-enabled phone, the UI is rather polished for a review/prototype unit. There is almost no learning curve for Symbian S60 users, everything is pretty intuitive and straight forward, and it is an improvement in many aspects except for the lackluster camera performance.
There are several missing features on my wish list, such as a speed dial screen with more than just 4 numbers and tabbed browsing. I trust that some of these things will be corrected in future firmware releases.
Anyway, I captured a short video of the phone with my N82. Single take and unedited.
By the way, the XpressMusic 5800 is going to be launched on the evening of 9.01.09 at Pavilion. This is going to be a public event with live performances, games with prizes to win, and as David promised, lots of fun. I’m going to be there, are you?