The Media Guru

Oct 13, 2008



Nokia's first ever touchscreen S60 smartphone was officially revealed 2 weeks ago along with its Come With Music service. Is this finally the iPhone-killer?

The Specs

  • 3.2-inch 16M touchscreen.
  • 640 x 360 pixels resolution (16:9 display ratio).
  • Symbian S60 5th edition OS 9.4 with touch input
  • Quad band GSM / GPRS / EDGE: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • Dual band UMTS / HSDPA: UMTS 900 / 2100 or UMTS 850 / 1900 (Latin America and Brazil variant)
  • Accelerometer for auto screen rotation.
  • 3.2 MP AF Carl Zeiss lens, dual LED flash and geo-tagging support
  • GPS with A-GPS function
  • 3.5mm headphone/video-out jack
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, USB 2.0 
  • microSDHC card slot (up to 32 GB)
  • 8GB microSDHC card included
  • 111 x 51.7 x 15.5 mm, 109 g

Being a power user(I hate this term) geek, instead of fussing over eye candy UI, I'll get straight to what really matters - the hardware & the software.

5800 XpressMusic pwns iPhone


Being a music-oriented phone, the 5800 comes with a hot-swappable 8GB microSD, which can be expanded up to 32GB.


It has a 3.2MP camera with Carl Zeiss's Tessar lens & dual-LED flash. The LEDs are for using with the VGA video recording at 30fps.


Unlike the iPhone, the Nokia 5800 fortunately doesn't have only one button. You've got Green/Call, Menu & Red/End buttons on the front. Camera, keypad lock & volume rocker on the side.


& then there's the touch-sensitive Media Bar button next to the XpressMusic logo which activates a shortcut bar to the essential media functions - music, pictures, ovi share, video & web.


The 5800 has a huge 3.2-inch screen with a huge resolution of 640x360 aka nHD (not to be confused with m-HD rerips). In contrast the iPhone has a 480x320 resolution on a 3.5-inch screen. Since when has VGA been considered HD? Even HTC have been marketing their 800x480 latest offering as HTC Touch HD.


Where you have a big screen, you've got to have enough juice to power it. & Nokia added a massive 1320mAh battery that has pretty impressive ratings (according to tests): - 8h talk time - 400h standby - 5h WiFi usage (upload only!) - 3.3h video playback (with stereo speakers) - 34h music playback!

There's the usual A-GPS, Bluetooth 2.0 & the Accelerometer. Add now a proximity sensor which prevents accidental touches & turns off the screen when calling.


Another option to not using the stylus is the plectrum (a small piece of plastic used to pluck guitar strings). While you'll obviously want to string some virtual guitar, the 5800 doesn't come with a Guitar Hero-like game... I can already predict that the stylus plectrum will be a massive success, since it's always there on the lanyard & will be more convenient than the recessed stylus for some quick tapping.

The Software


S60 Touch 5th Edition (OS 9.4) is not a brand new OS. It's just a touchscreen-optimized S60 3rd Edition with LIMITED backwards support for S60 v3 apps. Only 30% of S60 V3 apps have managed to work on the 5800, but there’s a compatibility mode for Java apps. Hope Nokia resolves this problem with future firmware updates. Btw why 5th Edition & not 4th Edition? Ever seen a Nokia phone starting with 4xxx? That's because in many parts of the world, the number 4 is considered as unlucky!


S60 5th Edition is like most touchscreen OSes - big icons & flashy animations. The default S60 Touch theme is quite good, but S60 can be heavily modified using themes & hacks, not only wallpapers.

key01 key06 key14

key22 key18

One of the best functions of the 5800 is the different input options available. The T9 keypad, the Qwerty landscape keyboard, the mini-Qwerty keyboard & of course, hand-writing recognition.

Your phone is ringing... But since you don't want to smudge your screen with your greasy fingers, you've got to take out the stylus to tap the Silence button. Not with the Nokia 5800. With the 5800, just flip the phone over! The accelerometer in the Tube does more than just rotate your screen or stabilize your camera - Nokia added brand new sensor APIs to provide much greater sensor control (not just the accelerometer) to app developers. How about shaking your phone to end a call? Samir's nAlertMe app just does that for your all S60 V3s with accelerometers!

cam03 nokia-5800-hands-021

The 3.2MP camera on-board the 5800 can be used for casual shots & Nokia didn't disappoint by providing quite a number of optimization settings.

Comes With Music


Nokia's Come With Music service is a direct competitor to Apple's iTunes store. Unlike iTunes, which sells songs individually, Comes With Music is a subscription service with a one-time fee giving unlimited music downloads for one year. The one-time fee is usually bundled in the device's retail price, but Nokia have announced that there will be no additional costs on the 5800 unsubsidized price. Obviously the music is DRMed, but you can keep the tracks forever, play them on your PC & can be transferred to a new device.

The PRICE However the strongest selling point of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is its price - 279 Euros - Rs 11,000!!! & that's at an unsubsidized (& obviously unlocked) price! (Retail selling price in Mauritius is around Rs 13,000) While this is one of the cheapest S60s sold by Nokia, it's definitely the cheapest touchscreen smartphone in the world. Compare that with the iPhone's unlocked price at Rs 25,000. & considering the specs, you can't even say it's a low-cost phone.

What's missing? Although it seems a perfect phone, there are some missing features I'd like to see in its high-end touchscreen Nseries version, which was inevitably confirmed this week by Nokia India’s Devinder Kishore (more on Engadget). & what's more interesting is that it would be announced this year!

- Applications Compatibility Remember the switch from S60V2 to S60V3? It was like going from Windows to Linux… with whole new set of apps that didn’t make the transition. Well, Nokia can’t keep changing OSes every 2-3 years… that would make all users switch to a more stable platform like Windows Mobile. When you’ll buy the 5800, you’ll find out that there are almost no apps to install? Instead of making developers make their apps S60 Fifth Edition-compatible, Nokia should instead work on making the OS itself compatible to previous S60 v3 apps – & that includes Java apps. Btw, don’t forget that in 2 years time, Symbian will go open-source… with probably a brand new OS. I hope that this time someone will make that new OS compatible with V1, V2 & V3 apps! That would be awesome coz currently there are many great apps that never went beyond S60V2….

- 5MP + Xenon-LED flash The N82, N85, N95 & N96 all have 5MP cameras, so that seems pretty obvious to add it but I'd also like a dual Xenon-LED flash. The Xenon for normal flash & the LED for video lighting. & in case you're wondering what's the difference between Xenon & LED, check out the difference between these photos (from ultimate cameraphone review) taken by the N95 & N82 respectively.
n95-30 n82-30 
- 16GB internal flash memory The 5800 has 128MB of RAM & 80MB of internal memory. Without the 8GB microSD, the 5800 is pretty much useless. That's why it should at least have 16GB of internal flash like the N96.

- True Haptic Feedbak When you touch the 5800's screen, it vibrates generally to show that it has registered an input. But that's not true haptic feedback - which gives the impression of really touching physical buttons because the phone screen vibrates only at the specific area of touch. (more here)

- AMOLED screen The N85's new AMOLED screen is a real stunner with those really vivid colours & real black! & bcoz it has no backlight, it uses 30% less energy! The photo below is of the default screensaver which is always on since there's no backlight to turn off!


But the only problem with AMOLED are their short lifetime - around 20,000 hours, which is only 2 years!

- Multi-touch For the time being, there's only one technology allowing multi-touch - capacitive surfaces like on the iPhone. The major caveat is that it works only by measuring the capacitance of your fingers, so it would need special styluses to work. Nevertheless, multi-touch isn't a necessity but you can bet Nokia is definitely working on it right now!

- USB Charging The N85 got it. So any future unannounced device from now on will definitely have it.

- FM Transmitter Is the FM transmitter, now becoming standard on the Nseries, really useful? Not really, coz when tested by, it's range was found to be pretty limited (in the order of cm) & it picked up a lot of noise from the surroundings!

- Wimax Many phones in Japan & Korea are already being bundled with Wimax, while it's now that laptops are being sold with integrated Wimax. So Nokia could take a huge leap ahead by adding Wimax support in its next flagship device. Nomad on Nokias? LOL :P

The Verdict


After the ubiquitous N95, the cutting-edge N85, we now have the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, which is one of the most innovative devices ever. By selling the 5800 at only 279 Euros, Nokia have sent the whole mobile industry into turmoil. Touchscreens are just an alternate method of input, they do not necessarily need to be expensive. Combined with those mouth-watering specs, what we have here is probably one of the most affordable all-rounder. The only negative point is the crap new OS… but that problem should be solved in a few months. In short, the 5800 is what you can call the People's touchscreen phone…

More info: – Review of 5800 & Review of S60 5th Edition. – Nokia 5800
Wiki – Nokia 5800
Engadget – Nokia 5800 Hands-on

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Anonymous said...

When will you give me 1 as a gift?

carrotmadman6 said...

How about this one? :P

Anonymous said...

definitely recommended? or not?

carrotmadman6 said...

I would have definitely recommended it if it wasn't for the lack of apps. :)
& then I'm waiting for the release of the Nseries version... ;)

Anonymous said...

hi guys!! finally bought the nokia 5800.. was so eager to have it that i travelled 304 kms in total! bought it in cluj - romania. 15,000 mauritian money. i must say that its the better deal among all the other touchscreen.

Its same like all the other nokia software, just instead of scrolling, u touch the screen. certainly value for money phone. Unlike Iphone or HTC...

carrotmadman6 said...

Rs 15K? That's really cheap, for a touchscreen & considering all the features!

Do share your experience with the device. :)

Anonymous said...

Its a great mobile phone..and best of all..its affordable!

S7 said...

I have a 5800 XpressMusic since 3 weeks, and its a great music phone.

Anonymous said...

what the way is that i can contact you dear

carrotmadman6 said...

You can contact me via my email. Address is on the sidebar, in the About Me. :)

Unknown said...

anyone who needs a nok5530(lil brozer of nok5800) just get in touch with me..
send me an email.

Anonymous said...

are the speakers in the box?

Shalina Raghooban said...

wats the actual price of nokia 5800 in mauritian rupeed?

Anony said...

Hi carrot, I want to buy the nokia e5 which costs at an average of Rs7500(vat incl.) in all main retail stores in mauritius, but is less expensive online ($189.97 on ebay and $179.99 on amazon).
I know there are shipping fees but without them the phone costs about Rs 5500 online. For amazon I calculated the shipping would cost about $55. So $179.99+$55=$234.99.
That makes about Rs 6815, and also the postal office may charge some cash but anyway cause my questions are: (1) Do you know a shop in mauritius where I can get this phone at cheaper price than the Rs7500 average being applied by the main retail stores here. (2) If not, do you know a similar phone (in terms of specs, not necessarily need to have qwerty keyboard like the nokia e5) which is cheaper in mauritius or online?

carrotmadman6 said...

(1) If that's the average price, I doubt you'd it any cheaper unless you post an ad in Orange petite annonces asking if someone is selling it.

Amazon don't ship phones to Mauritius, so I've been looking around eBay & the cheapest E5 I've found shipping to Mauritius is $228.75 + $38.66 shipping & that's more than the local price.

(2) Phones with similar specs? Here you go.

Anony said...

Oh, I didn't know those priced at $189.97 on ebay were not shipping to mauritius.
As the super gadget geek you are, I was hoping you wouldn't redirect me to gsmarena cause I already went there tons of time.

carrotmadman6 said...

Well, apart from the above, there are lots of small shops in PL that sell Nokia. You might find it a little cheaper (Rs 100-300).

Amazon only send certain things to countries like Mauritius - Kindle, books, dvds, etc.. See here.

Doesn't eBay ask you for your country when you first search for a product? Or you can use the Advanced search & show items available to Mauritius.

Anony said...

ebay never asked me for my country during my first search and for the advanced search I just realized the option for searching stuff being shipped to mauritius was placed under "Location">"Only show items:" and not under "Show results">"Shipping options". Easy to confuse with those two options... or if you don't click on the learn more link. Anyway, you did helped me somewhat in terms of shipping but not as I expected cause you are highly regarded as the ultimate mauritian gadget master (especially smartphones). "Only the paranoid survives", and yes I'm one and I still remember that quote from you since 4 years ago, so can you please delete all my (including this one and yours) comments. Thanks.

Anony said...

Sorry to disturb you once more, but, you remember showing me that nokia e5 on ebay that was costing something like 220GPB + about 30GPB shipping.
Well, I tried the advanced search, and selected available shipping to mauritius and I found one costing $156.50
I probably (or not) did something wrong to get a cheaper price than the one you searched for me, but if you could verify and tell me the details about the $156.50 nokia e5 i found. It even says free shipping.
And can you also tell me if the old s40 & S60 apps will run on the Symbian OS v9.3, Series 60 rel. 3.2?

carrotmadman6 said...

The $156.50 E5 is an auction. As the bidding ends, the price will rise as more people will try to outbid each other. :)

Symbian v9.3, that's what on the E72. S40 apps won't work. & neither will old S60 (6600, 7610).

Anony said...

I knew its an auction, but anyway, I'm relieved to know that I can get this phone at about $160.

I suppose in the search you did for me you have tick everything except "Auction" under Buying formats in the advanced search, right?

And do you have an idea how much fee the mauritius post office guys would make me pay after opening the package in front of me? If there's no receipt or price written on the package, can I make them think that its a gift I got so that they make me pay less?

carrotmadman6 said...

You won't get it at $160. The bidding I guess will end at around $200.

Yes, I usually look at non-Auction goods because it gives the actual price.

All you have to pay at the post office is the VAT. Let's say you bought it at $200 (shipping is excluded from the calculation), the amount you'll pay is ($200 - Rs 1000)*0.15.

Gift or no gift, you still have to pay the VAT. If you bring your ebay receipt, they will search for the item number on ebay & confirm the price.
If there's no receipt, they'll google it & estimate the cost. Or send you to the Customs to get it valued.
Because it's less than 10k, they won't fuss around like they did with me. :)

Anony said...

euuh... ⇈

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