It would be nice to say Nokia's XpressMusic line of music oriented phones has enjoyed steady improvement since being introduced in 2006 but, to be frank, it's gone in all sorts of odd directions over the years with some handsets being more successful than others. A reasonable attempt was the all touchscreen 5800 that arrived at the start of this year but it certainly had room for improvement. Today, then, we're looking at another all touchscreen affair, the 5530, so let's see if it can finally hit the nail on the head.
To look at, there's a degree of improvement from the 5800 to the 5530 with a less pronounced lip round the edge of the screen and a generally slimmer and smoother look throughout. However, with a plethora of buttons all round its edges and rather unattractive grills above and below the screen, it's certainly no fashion phone.
In particular, we fail to see the necessity in this day and age to have separate power, lock, and call end buttons. A well designed operating system should allow for all of these to be incorporated into one button or replaced by touchscreen gestures, both making the phone neater to look at and simpler to use. Likewise, the XpressMusic button, which drops down a list of shortcuts to the phone's media features (music, pictures, online services, video, and web browser), seems a bit pointless, especially as it isn't accompanied by hardware multimedia playback controls.
Build quality is also a concern as the back is an absolute pig to get off and is so thin that it bends very unnervingly as you force it off. Thankfully you shouldn't have to remove it all that often as the microSD memory card is accessible from the side. Seemingly you can also get at the SIM slot from this side flap except you actually have to remove the back and battery to push the SIM out – it's a very odd arrangement. The screen also has a soft flexible surface so will be very prone to scratches.
As you may have guessed from that last fact, this uses a resistive rather than capacitive touchscreen so requires a good prod to elicit a response. This makes typing on the onscreen keyboards (QWERTY when held in landscape, numpad when held in portrait) rather slow, something that wasn't helped by the rather clunky layout of said keyboards. At least we never felt the need to resort to using the 5530's stylus.