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.
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.
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.