Xpress Yourself

Date Sun, September 28 2008

Third time’s not the charm but I really hoped it would be with my Nokia 5310 XpressMusic. In truth, I can’t give an accurate review of the phone itself because my provider, T-Mobile has customized it to their liking, with their software. I can only review the phone they gave me and as such, the review won’t necessarily apply to all Nokia 5310s. Because this is so closely related to the cell phone service, I will also be reviewing that but not yet.

To start, the Nokia 5310 is a slim little SIM-using, GSM phone that is very slick. With black keys, a dark grey exterior and several choices for colour accents including orange, red, blue, purple and silver, this phone is very pleasing to the eye.

One of its key features, as a member of the XpressMusic family, is the ability to listen to music transferred from your computer. It also comes complete with a 2.0 MP digital camera with which you can take pictures and record videos, radio, up to 30MB internal memory, convert application (currency, weight, etc), Bluetooth capabilities and a slot for Micro SD memory cards to store your music, pictures and videos. Typically standard features like WAP web browsing, text and multimedia features, voice dialing, ring tones, themes and application support also exist.

Software aside, the 5310 XpressMusic comes with its own USB cord for data transfer as well as Nokia’s microphone and ear bud headset and charger (of course). The phone also comes with a micro SD memory card of 1 GB which is easily replaceable if you fill it.

The Nokia 5310 both sounds and looks like a dream come true and it just may be. However, because of TMobile I am not able to use all of these features as I would like to and I believe performance is hindered by the software variant the company uses.

Still, there were definitely some features I came to enjoy. The sound quality on this phone is pretty decent and I enjoy listening to to the radio with the head phones. The headset works well with its button that can end calls or change radio stations and songs and makes it easy to multitask even though it’s not wireless.

What I like the most are the buttons for the music. The 5310 XpressMusic has 3 dedicated music buttons along the left side that serve to play/pause, and shift back or forward. When listening to the radio, these buttons change the station from a list of presets. This features works well, as it ought to considering it is a big selling point.

As a side note, I have yet to transfer music so I have only enjoyed these buttons for the radio. There is an option to automatically scan and add all stations so the phone will automatically pick up strong signals. Any stations that are not added can be added manually.

Now, on to the software variant that T-Mobile uses. This information may not apply to the Nokia 5310 in general.

I found the menu a little confusing at first and not as intuitive as I would have liked. Part of this is due, I believe, to having the T-zones in the menu so this does not reflect Nokia. Having T-zones as an application and being able to access the same exactly T-zones online, via the browser, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

However, what I didn’t like I was able to easily change. Users have options to change both the order and view of the menu. I changed my menu to display in tab form because I feel I get the most space usage. Users can set to grid or list view as well. Menu items can be ordered anyway the user chooses.

One thing I did immediately was to take off the My Faves display and replace it with navigational icons so that I can more quickly access things like my message inbox, radio and camera. The My Faves display allows users to quick add, edit and view information about their 5 Faves. I prefer to have quicker access to certain features, instead. If some of the features weren’t buried several menus deep, I might not do this. For instance, in order to access the camera, a user must press Menu > scroll the Fun & apps > Media and then finally select the camera. The radio is also located in the Media menu. It would be nice if both of these features, or at least the camera, had a dedicated button.

The menu also contains sub menus for logging (which are extensive), settings, music (on the internal drive or memory card), phonebook, fun & apps (which contains your gallery, games, applications, media, etc), messaging, IM & E-mail and T-zones (internet access including browser and bookmarks).

For the most part, it’s easy to use these features. I automatically went to settings and changed things like the security keyguard, call timer, and navigational shortcuts. One downfall I think this phone has, which is because of T-Mobile, is that the right soft key can only link to T-zones on the home screen, while all other keys can be cusotmize.

Another unfortunate limitation of the phone, because of T-Mobile, is that some features are not fully enabled. Third party applications are automatically blocked and although users can download ring tones and themes to use, they may not work.

My last gripe is that the reception is really touch and go. It’s not necessarily bad but it’s not generally good, either. Sitting still, the phone can range from 4 bars to none in just a few seconds and it’s quick to switch back and forth. I have had more than one call drop, as well. Unfortunately, it seems like this is more an issue with the phone itself than with the service.

Overall, the phone has been decent and most of the troubles I have had to deal with were because of T-Mobile. If you read about my frustrations and having to return the phone twice while I still wound up with a phone that did not correctly work, you can rest assured that this was also T-Mobile’s responsibility. However, they have been quick to exchange and try to help me with my issue even if they did not understand it.

I hope to write a review of my T-Mobile service after I have spent more time with them. In the mean time, I do really like my Nokia 5310 XpressMusic, I just wish all the software worked.

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