Nokia 5800 XpressMusic review: Come and touch me

posted at 13 April 2009 by The wizard

Promoted as an XpressMusic handset, the Nokia 5800, also known as the Tube, had been causing a real fuss amongst the online tech community because it happens to be Nokia’s first ever full touchscreen device. The device is a mid-range, music focused phone, runs S60 5th Edition on Symbian OS 9.4, and packs a 3.2 megapixel camera, integrated GPS, WiFi, HSDPA connectivity, and a 3.2inch touchscreen.


Nokia 5800 XpressMusic review: Come and touch me - Introduction, design and construction image 1    Nokia 5800 XpressMusic review: Come and touch me - Introduction, design and construction image 2

Main features:

- Symbian S60 5th edition
- 3.2" 16M-color TFT LCD 16:9 touchscreen display
- ARM 11 369 MHz CPU, 128 MB of SDRAM memory
- 3.2MP autofocus camera with dual-LED flash
- Quad-band GSM and Dual-band 3G with HSDPA support
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP and USB
- GPS receiver and Nokia Maps 2.0
- microSD card memory expansion, ships with an 8GB card
- TV out, FM radio with RDS
- Accelerometer and Proximity sensor
- 3.5mm standard audio jack


- Immature user interface and software issues
- Disappointing touchscreen sensitivity
- Poor web browser
- GPS geotagging available only with firmware update
- No voice-guided navigation license
- Shaky battery cover

We have all been waiting for this, a touch-sensitive cell phone from Nokia. And the more they hyped the fabulous Apple iPhone, the more anxious everyone had been growing. While it's not Nokia's first touch phone, the 5800 XpressMusic is the first S60 touch enabled phone and is a significant landmark in Nokia's development. However, it is worth noting from the start that the 5800 XpressMusic is more of a trespasser than a strong rival for Apple’s iPhone but also an icebreaker for Nokia in the touch phones portfolio.

In terms of design, the Nokia 5800 shares the same characteristics with the iPhone and the Samsung Omnia. The candy bar shape offers clean lines with rounded corners and a black and burgundy color scheme. Thanks to its relatively narrow width it is closer to the traditional candy bar shape than most touch screen phones. The main advantage of this shape is that, for most people, it is possible to use the device with just one hand.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic front  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic back  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic front

At first glance, the only thing that gives you a hint that the 5800 belongs to Nokia’s music series is the inscription on the upper end of the front, which is dominated almost thoroughly by the screen, making it pretty different from previous XpressMusic phones. The body is made of plastic and to be honest we didn’t like the material very much, as it gives the impression of something cheap and fragile.

The phone’s front features three keys, a large 3.2inch display (360 x 640 pixels), the earpiece, the video-call camera, a couple of sensors and a little touch-sensitive icon above the top-right of the display that provides shortcut access to the music player and some other multimedia functions. The phone’s attractive smoked-glass face is framed by a smooth raised edge, which would help protect the screen if the phone was placed face down.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic keys  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic sideway  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic camera and sensor

The Nokia 5800 features a resistive touchscreen. This means that you can use whatever object to press it (finger, stylus), while the iPhone uses the capacitive technology, meaning that the only way to control it is by fingers. Capacitive touchscreens are generally regarded as more sensitive and work better in sunlight.

The right side of handset hosts the volume rocker, the screen-lock switch and the camera key. The screen lock switch is an essential shortcut because it is useless to press two separate keys simultaneously as you do with most phones. Locking and unlocking of the screen is marked by a short vibration.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic camera button  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic review lock button  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic review volume rocker

On the left side of the device there are two plastic flaps hiding the SIM slot and the microSD memory card. The memory card (8GB card included in the retail package) is hot-swappable and can be taken in and out easily enough, but removing the SIM card requires you to remove the back panel together with the battery and use the stylus to push the SIM card out. The twin stereo speakers are housed on the same side.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic bottom side  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic battery removed  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic top side

The phone’s top is quite crowded. In the top right corner we have the Power key, that also handles ringing profiles. On the opposite end there is a microUSB port, the charger plug and the 3.5mm standard audio jack in between. The position of the headset port is very convenient, considering that most people listen to music with the device in their pocket and it’s so much easier to plug the headphones into the top of the phone than a port on the side.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic stylus  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic 3MP camera  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic battery cover open

The phone’s back side shows the stylus, the 3MP autofocus camera and the dual-LED flash. The other thing of interest here is the 1320 mAh Li-Ion BL-5J battery. Nokia quoted an impressive 35 hours of music playback, 406 hours of standby and 8 hours 45 minutes of talk time. Despite its shaky battery cover and being primarily plastic, the Nokia 5800 feels solid to hold in hand.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic in hands  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic fits perfectly  Nokia 5800 XpressMusic against my hand