Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Nokia 5300 XpressMusic
- Unique design, external music buttons, adapter included for 3.5mm headphones, vibrant display, compact
- Limited memory on flash card, average audio quality, mediocre camera
The 5300 XpressMusic does a great job at merging an MP3 player with a mobile phone, but you'll have to spring for a larger memory card to use it as an everyday player.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Another day, another music-playing mobile phone. This latest one, the Nokia 5300 comes under their new 'XpressMusic' sub-brand, with a sporty design that should appeal to the funky, style-conscious user on a budget.
It's certainly very distinctive-looking, with a 'racing stripe' around the middle, a silver keypad and button area, and a white frame. Two different colours are available for the coloured band; Virgin Mobile has exclusive rights to the red one, and other carriers have the more conservative dark grey version on offer. Measuring 92.4mm x 48.2mm x 20.7mm and weighing 106.2g, it's compact for a slider phone.
Key to the 5300's design is the dedicated music playback buttons. On the left side of the screen are the rewind, play/pause and skip buttons, and the right side (behind the display) houses the volume controls. These buttons are a tad stiff, requiring a firm push to register, but this also makes it unlikely you'll trigger the controls accidentally.
It's clear that Nokia has put a lot of effort into making the music player work well with the 5300's regular phone functions. You don't have to dig into the menu system and launch the Music Player program to listen to tracks - simply press the Play button. While a song is playing, the Standby screen displays the artist and track name; more details can be viewed in the Music Player program, such as album name, elapsed time and total time.
As well as cutting down on the devices you need to carry, having a phone and music player in one also ensures you don't miss calls because you've got headphones on. If a call comes in while you're listening to music, the 5300 automatically pauses the track and switches focus to the incoming call. Once the call has ended, music resumes where it left off. This works the same way if you're listening to the built-in FM tuner.
It's the small touches that make all the difference, and Nokia has included a few of those as well. If you've left the earphones in and someone calls, for instance, the ring tone still plays over the external speaker (as well as in the earphones) - handy if you're away from the phone. Volume for music is also separate from general system sounds, so you're not deafened by a ring tone if you've got the music all the way up. The 5300 features a 2.5mm audio connector, but Nokia has thoughtfully included an adapter for connecting regular-sized 3.5mm headphones.
The 5300 supports a range of music formats, including MP3, WMA, M4A, AAC and AAC+. The bundled Nokia PC Suite software includes Nokia Music Manager for ripping music from a CD and transferring tracks from a PC with the supplied mini-USB cable. On-board memory is scant at just over 8MB, so it comes with a 256MB microSD card that has just over 230MB free. This is hot-swappable, however the memory slot is located underneath the battery cover, which is difficult to pry open. Also, 233MB equals around 58 music tracks (or less than five full albums) - not a lot for a music player. You should consider purchasing a larger capacity card if you're serious about taking full advantage of the 5300's music functionality.
Audio quality with the matching white earbuds (which double as a handsfree) is better than average for a bundled pair; however plugging in third party Skullcandy SK-Pro headphones reveals that the 5300 is light on bass and slightly distorted in the mid-range - typical for a converged music player.
On the phone side of things, the 5300 is more than capable. It runs Nokia's mid-range Series 40 platform, which has an easy-to-use menu system that includes an email client, Web browser, video player, push-to-talk and PIM software. No 3G connectivity here - just tri-band and EDGE, as well as Bluetooth 2.0. Complementing the 5300's music player feature is A2DP support for Bluetooth, letting you connect wireless stereo headphones.
The built-in camera is capable of taking 1.3 megapixel photos and videos up to 176 x 144 pixels in the 3GP format. Output from both is typical for a mobile phone: photos are grainy, with a bluish tint and fuzzy edges, while videos are pixelated due to the heavy compression. If you're looking for a good camera phone, look elsewhere.
Screen size is a respectable two inches, with a bright backlight, good colour reproduction (supporting up to 262 thousand colours) and 240 x 320 pixel resolution. Generously-sized keys comprise the keypad hidden behind the display, with excellent tactile feedback and key travel, and the phone's curved edges and compact frame make it pleasant to hold.
Nokia quotes battery life for music at up to 12 hours, which is reasonable; talk time and standby time are on the low side at 3.2 and 216 hours respectively.
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