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Nokia 5530 XpressMusic Ц first look
In my review of the Nokia 5800 I took the liberty of pulling the wraps off Nokia's plans regarding touch-sensitive devices. Those who take their time to read our reviews knew about a year ago that the first half of 2009 would see a pared-down edition of the Nokia 5800. However as the 5800's sales continued to beat all imaginable records, becoming the undisputable leader in its segment, the 5530's release had to be postponed. What effect will this change of plans have upon it? Well, first of all, we as consumers will get to work with better software, since it's pretty much the same as that used in the 5800, but at the same time the 5800's lifecycle will increase by a couple of months because of that.
While the Nokia 5800 was conquering market after market, its rivals weren't idle - Samsung already have their very own "Star" out there, that has already taken its 200-250 Euro segment by storm, being one of the most affordable touchscreen-enabled devices out there. At the end of the day price does matter and the Samsung Star serves as another testament to this fact. The upcoming Nokia-branded touch-friendly device will have to go up against it, as well as several other similar offerings, such as the LG KP500, although the latter's market share is fairly insignificant.
Nokia 5530 XpressMusic:
Nokia's primary goal is to widen its line-up of touchscreen-enabled devices, which currently comprises three models: the 5800, N97 and 5530. Don't expect this range to inflate rapidly throughout 2009 - it seems that Nokia have taken a more cautious step-by-step approach. And while against the background of Samsung's burst of activity in this field, their current roadmap seems barely sustainable, Nokia's share won't plummet all thanks to incredible levels of loyalty to the brand.
Now, what the Nokia 5530 XpressMusic really is. First and foremost, it probably the first music-minded phone we've seen in a very long while that comes boxed with a pair of decent earphones - exclusively for their XpressMusic range Nokia have developed a new type of headset, which is a big attraction for all new users. On the other hand, it's the same 5800 yet in a new, svelte wrapping with slightly worse specs, such as a smaller display, less memory, worse camera and not-as-rich sales package. Hence its more affordable price tag. Which is another thing you need to pay attention to, since the 5800 wasn't a bargain after all. So, all in all, the 5530 XpressMusic targets those who look for a reasonably priced touchscreen music-focused phone from a well-known manufacturer.
The 5530 is made entirely out of plastic, the only pieces of metal you'll find on it are two loudspeaker grills housed on the front fascia. Speaking of which, this setup makes the phone sound differently, as compared to the Nokia 5800: some see it as an improvement, some think that the 5530's loudspeakers offer worse audio quality, but in my humble opinion nothing has really changed.
Nokia have trimmed the phone's size a bit, down to 104x49x13 mm (from 111x51.7x15.5 mm), as well as its weight to 107 grams (from 109 grams), so that now the 5530 feels more palm-friendly than its sibling. But when you think about it, the only factor contributing to the 5530's casing metamorphosis is its smaller display diagonal.
Nokia 5530 vs Nokia 5800 XpressMusic:
Nokia 5530 vs Nokia N97:
Other changes include the absence of the 5800's mechanical Menu button - now all keys mounted on the front are touch-sensitive. Like it or not, this setup does feel more comfortable, as now there is absolutely no difference between tapping the display or pressing one of the soft-keys. There is a separate button located right below the display for calling up the application shortcut bar.
Housed on the right is the volume rocker, along with the display lock switch (that hasn't been changed at all and apparently might jam like in the N97 or 5800, but we are yet to see the evidence). On the opposite side there is a folding flap, covering the memory card slot and SIM card socket. Sitting on the top end is the power button, and at the bottom there is the 3.5 mm audio jack and 2 mm charger socket, along with the microUSB port. Also there is the stylus silo.
In my opinion, the 5530's build quality is as good as that of the 5800, but they have changed its chassis a little, so that there should be no problems with the front plate starting to loosen up in the top right corner. We'll pay special attention to this part of the phone during our quality time with it. All in all, the 5530 employs relatively cheap plastic, the back cover is glossy.
The phone will come in a choice of five colors, although there are only two base colors: black and white. And various "color schemes" only affect the color of the side-mounted edging.
The display covered by a thick plastic layer, although not recessed into the casing, so it can be handled in any way you please. All things considered, the 5530's screen is identical to that used in the Nokia 5800, although its diagonal has shrunk down to 2.9 inches from the 5800's 3.2 inches (16:9 ratio and 640x350 pixel resolution, 16 million colors that make for a juicy, vibrant picture).
In all honestly, though, you probably won't see a difference between the 5530 and 5800 as far as sun legibility and picture quality are concerned, but expect to see a full-fledged test of the 5530's screen nonetheless.
The 5530's screen rotates automatically, depending on what position you hold it in - it takes the phone a split second to change the setup. Running around the display is a slightly protruding frame that might cause a sense of discomfort when scrolling through lengthy lists, however it's considerable lower than that of the 5800.
The phone's display remains fairly legible under direct sunlight. It can accommodate up to 14 text and 3 service lines; all in all, the 5530's display is perfect for viewing images, videos and browsing long lists.
The handset utilizes a 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery (BL-4U). The 5530 is rated for 4.5 hours of talk time (GSM) and 350 hours of standby. Music time - up to 27 hours, video recording time (top resolution and quality settings) - up to 140 minutes, video playback time - up to 3.5 hours.
The handset's battery life averaged 2 days in our tests, when we used the 5530 for about an hour of calls, a dozen or two snaps, several minutes of video, and around an hour of music/radio. It takes the 5530 around one hour thirty minutes to charge from empty to full.
Below is our chart of battery times we managed to squeeze out of the 5530:
Since the 5530's battery capacity has dropped by 30 percent, as compared to that of the 5800, the figures about shouldn't come as a surprise - most of them are worse than the 5800's battery times exactly by 30 percent.
I'm not going to say anything about my first impressions of the device, since the software it's running is pre-final. I do like, though, how it scrolls through lists and how fast its animation effects are - the 5530 is definitely a step forward compared to the 5800's early firmware versions.
The device comes equipped with 128 Mb of RAM, after first launch you will get around 70-74 Mb of free memory at your disposal, plus there are 75 Mb on top of that reserved in the phone for your personal data. The 5530 deals with microSD memory cards (hot-swappable), the phone comes packaged with a 4Gb unit. There are no restrictions as far as memory card's size is concerned - our handset easily identified a 32Gb card.
USB. Using the USB settings you can choose one of the following modes
The 5530's data transfer speeds top out at 5 Mb/s, the phone doesn't recharge itself over USB.
Bluetooth. The phone comes with Bluetooth v2.0, with support for EDR. The following profiles are supported:
The top speed you can get with the 5530's Bluetooth connection is around 100 Kb/s. We also tested its A2DP profile in pair with the Sony Ericsson DS970 headset, which worked just fine - we managed our play list, skipped within tracks and adjusted volume seamlessly, however we couldn't make current track's title show up on the headset's display.
Wi-Fi. This handset comes armed with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 g) support. All security standards are supported, including WEP , WPA , WPA 2, with other advanced settings available. The 5530 boasts the WiFi Wizard, which can search and tap into available networks in background mode.
While the 5530 comes equipped with a run-of-the-mill Nokia's music player, all thanks to its great headphones, it sounds much better than the 5800 out-of-the-box. I'd even say that in this price segment it's hard to wish for more, the only drawback is that there is no remote control
The following formats are supported: AAC, AAC+, eAAC, eAAC+, MP3, MP4, M4A, WMA, Mobile XMF, SP-MIDI, AMR (NB-AMR), MIDI Tones (poly 64), RealAudio 7,8,10, True tones (WB-AMR), WAV. MP3-files with various bit rates, including VBR, are seamlessly played back by the N81. Upon synchronization with Windows Media Player 11 and higher, you can take advantage of protected DRM-files (Janus DRM).
Equalizer. When the equalizer settings are modified the audio experience varies considerably. Every one of the 6 pre-installed equalizers features 8 bands and is fully user-manageable, save for the default settings. The list of presets is as follows - Bass Booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop, Rock. In the Sound Settings you can adjust sound balance, Stereo Widening and Loudness.
The handset has random and repeat (all or one track) playback modes. When the standby screen is active is displays information about the currently playing track.
Bringing up the Music Menu allows you to browse all tracks, playlists and sort the library by artists, albums, genres and composers. The music library (or the track list) gets updated automatically on every successful synchronization with a PC via Nokia PC Suite except if you use a memory card with pre-loaded tracks. It's worth noting, amongst all the other features, the Library Detail feature.
Podcasting Ц podcasts are now integrated right into the music player, whereas previously they were placed in a separate application. You can access podcasts either from the player's menu or launch the application separately, which will give you access to the library, Nokia's podcast catalogue, search, synchronization settings and so on. You can also choose to get your subscribed podcasts uploaded automatically (within the home network or via some specific access point). All in all this app is a breeze to navigate around and quite useful at that.
Music store Ц allows you to access the Nokia Music Store to buy tracks, albums and download them to your device.
FM-radio Ц the 5530 comes bundled with a pretty standard radio application that offers to pick your region when first launched (this choice will affect the FM frequencies you'll have access to later on). Among its features are RDS, auto tuning and some neat visual enhancements.
The 5530 utilzes a 3.2 MP CMOS matrix with autofocus, which is, in fact, a downgraded version of the Nokia 5800's camera.
Call quality was never an issue with the 5530, as it easily lived up to our expectations of a Nokia-branded phone. Ring tones sounded quite loud and we were happy with them even in noisy environments. The vibro alter was of moderate strength.
Those who already own the Nokia 5800 won't have any reason to buy the pared-down version of the same phone, whose only advantages are a decent pair of earphones in the box and a lower price. The 5530 targets a broader and to a certain extent greedier audience, where consumers want an affordable touch-friendly phone with music smarts. At the same time its positioning is not the same as that of the Samsung Star, so despite retailing at similar price points, these phones are aimed at different people.
The Nokia 5530 is expected to become available for purchase in late August for 200 Euros, which isn't all that cheap, but it'll do. All in all, it has all the makings of a really popular solution - we'll touch upon all of them in our full review of the phone. But for now let us conclude this first look article by saying that in terms of software its only difference from the 5800 is its home screen.
Published 06 July 2009
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