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Nokia's 5800 XpressMusic was long anticipated when it finally went on sale in the UK on 23 January. It had been shipping in some other countries since last year and by the time we Brits were able to get our hands on it the phone had already sold a million units elsewhere.
You can pick the phone up SIM-free from the Nokia online store or pop along to your operator and get it for prices from free on contract. Vodafone has even bagged an exclusive blue colour highlighted version.
Such prolific availability at UK launch indicates that the 5800 XpressMusic is something of an attention seeker. It is, after all, the first appearance of S60 5th edition, which, vitally, supports touch control. That might be enough to make you want to rush out and buy this handset, but hold your horses. I see this phone as a competent first attempt rather than an all out iPhone killer.
There is no pinch control. There are some sweeping controls - for example, moving through photos and song lists, but the implementation lacks the charm and wow factor of the iPhone's system. It feels more like S60-plus-touch rather than a bottom up designed touch interface. Not surprising, really, as that's what it is.
My heart sunk when I realised there was a stylus sitting in a housing on the casing. I am inclined to think that any mobile that has a touch interface yet comes with a stylus is missing an important trick. Fortunately, I didn't have to resort to using this one.
Text entry is one of those all-important areas where the touch-based user interface has to be superb. If it works well then text messaging and emailing are easy. If not, they are frustrating. In this case, individual keys are small but not too small and there is a gentle vibrating response when you hit a key.
One potential problem is that keys don't actually register till you lift your finger away from them, so there's no chance of really fast typing that can result in physical contact with two keys at once. This may slow down the speedmongers.
Another irritation is that sometimes the screen wants a double tap and I had to get used to when this was the case. One example is choosing, rather than simply highlighting, an option in the music player. Press, wait, nothing happens, press again. Irritating. Still, these niggles aside, I'm inclined to give the touch implementation eight out of 10 for usability.
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