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Nokia 5230 review

Niall Magennis



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Nokia 5230 front angle
  • Nokia 5230 front angle
  • Nokia 5230 colours
  • Nokia 5230 front
  • Nokia 5230
  • Nokia 5230 test photo
  • Nokia 5230 test photo
  • Nokia 5230 test photo
  • 5230


Our Score:



  • Competitively priced
  • High resolution display
  • Decent battery life


  • Lacks Wi-Fi
  • OS lacks polish
  • Resistive display

Key Features

  • 360 x 640 pixel display
  • Bluetooth
  • Manufacturer: Nokia
  • Review Price: free/subscription

Nokia has been somewhat starved of the limelight recently as Apple’s iPhone 4 and a whole host of Android handsets have vacuumed up the column inches. However, it’s easy to forget just what a broad range of handsets Nokia has on offer at any one time. Take the 5230 for instance. It fell under the radar somewhat at launch, but for just £120 SIM-free it offers a lot of features including a generously sized 3.2in touchscreen and the Nokia Ovi Maps application for voice-guided satellite navigation.

Nokia 5230 front angle

The 5230 doesn’t exactly create a striking first impression. At 15.5mm deep it’s quite thick and the chassis feels a bit plasticky too, something that isn’t helped by the rather rattly spring-loaded lock switch found on the right-hand edge of the phone. Still, we do like the rounded corners and for a touchscreen handset it has a decent line-up of physical buttons including three soft keys at the bottom of the screen as well as a dedicated camera button positioned on the bottom right-hand edge. As with most of Nokia’s recent handsets it also has a standard headphone jack nestled next to the micro-USB port on the top of the phone.

The 5320 runs Nokia’s S60 5th Edition operating system. This won’t be much of an issue for you if you’ve used Nokia touchscreen devices before, but the uninitiated can expect a relatively steep learning curve compared to other touchscreen OSes. The main problem is that it’s obvious that S60 hasn’t been built from the ground up for touch operation. The menu system can be quite clunky and there are some annoying inconsistencies found throughout the OS. For example, some touch buttons you simply tap once, while others you have to tap twice to get them to respond. Still, once you do master its quirks, S60 is a reasonably powerful OS and there are a decent number of solid apps that you can download from the on-phone Ovi app store.

Nokia 5230 colours

The phone is driven primarily by its 3.2in touchscreen. For such a cheap handset, this actually has a pretty impressive resolution of 360 x 640 pixels, so you can actually view a proper web page on it without having to constantly scroll over and back as you do on a lot of phones in this price range. The screen is relatively bright and colours are fairly punchy too. However, unlike Nokia’s X6, it uses resistive rather than capacitive technology, so you do sometimes have to apply a bit of extra pressure to get it to register finger presses and swipes.

Another omission on the 5230’s spec sheet is Wi-Fi. Obviously, Nokia has left out Wi-Fi support to keep the cost of the phone down, but this leaves you totally reliant on the mobile network for Internet access. Nevertheless, the handset does support HSDPA so if you have a decent 3G signal the web browser still loads pages relatively quickly. Naturally, the handset does have Bluetooth support for transferring pictures and other files between other mobile devices or a PC as well as for use with Bluetooth stereo headphones.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


September 8, 2010, 12:39 pm

I bought this on the Bank Holiday weekend from Carphonewarehouse for just £69 (half the review price), upgrading for an old 6300. As usual from this store, the handset was effectively unlocked, even though I had to buy a £10 top up on 3. The review is representative of the phone, except I would point out that the screen (excellent in low level light) is real awful in direct sunlight, not helped by the themes all being white letters on black background. I bought this for its Ovi mapping capability (reviewed 30th August on TR) and GPS. This really is outstanding and very flexible. I use this in travelling all around Asia on business, with pre-loaded maps. On the 6300 there was no GPS so I used as a portable map, but with the 5320 I am looking forward to seeing how the GPS works with pre-loaded maps in future trips. Using a whole bunch of local SIM cards, I don't always have data enabled, so Nokia's USP of pre-loadable maps is a great freebie. I like the side slider switch for activating the phone from standby. I find this better than the usual tap/swipe screen fiddly business of low end touch screens. In UK I use a Lebara SIM - and nicely they are offering free data up to 10MB/day until end of Sept - so great for setting and testing the phone's data capability. But (naughty Lebara) this offer is apparently only for 2G. I was using 3G (and 3.5G) and got charged for all my data usage. Anyway, excellent phone (apart from poor screen in strong outdoor light) with Nokia's unbeatable Ovi maps app.


September 8, 2010, 3:30 pm

Isn't this just a Nokia 5800 without wi-fi?


September 8, 2010, 5:18 pm

@hottea - Not exactly. The 5800 also has a 3.2 Mpix camera with dual LED flash (vs 2.0 Mpix without flash). I'm sure there are other differences too, but the camera was the one that stuck out the most (besides wi-fi).

Have a good one!

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