When the player is visible on screen, music control is achieved via the navigation button which lets you pause, play and skip within and between tracks. Side buttons duplicate these functions when the music player isn’t showing. Take an incoming call and playback stops. It doesn’t pick back up again when the call ends, but when you restart manually it resumes at the point it paused.
There is also an FM radio built in, and a game called Music Guess which uses tunes on the phone as the basis for guessing the track and matching clips from tracks. It didn’t hold my attention for long as I’d rather actually listen to the music.
A key factor to take into consideration when looking at any phone as a mobile music player, is battery life. The Nokia 5300 XpressMusic managed a shade over eight hours of continuous music from a full charge. Not bad for a phone but it doesn’t stand up well to dedicated music players.
There is more to this phone than music, of course and some of the rest is very impressive indeed. I am drawn to the superb 2-inch main screen, with its 320 x 240 pixels and 262,000 colours. And I rather like the slider design which makes for a tidy feeling phone in the hand and pocket. With the number-pad hidden the Nokia 5300 XpressMusic measures just 92.4 mm tall and x 48.2 mm wide. Open it up to take calls and it grows to about 125mm. It weighs just 106.5g.
I also like the two-tone red and white colouring, but the plastic casing is a real turnoff. It just feels too tacky in the hand.
The camera is disappointing. It only manages a maximum image resolution of 1.3 megapixels, fared poorly at taking shots of moving objects and didn’t handle colours too well.
The snowdrops in the sample picture are overexposed, the colours of the dish, shot indoors with ordinary home ceiling lighting, are less vibrant than they could be. On the other hand the camera handles well. The screen flips into landscape format when you are ready to take photos, and the softmenu buttons are on hand for easy access to camera settings. There are some nice filters including one which turned a red rosy apple a rather unappetising grey/blue colour but had a pleasing effect on the coloured dish.
The Nokia 5300 XpressMusic runs Symbian S60 and has a range of applications associated with that operating system on board. There is a calendar, alarm clock, to do list manager, notes application, calculator, timer, stopwatch, email SMS and MMS, voice recorder, voice commands and a Web browser. The provided microSD card contains a couple of games to augment Music Guess (Snake III and Pro Snowboarding) and a little additional content such as handset themes and ringtones. Bluetooth and infra red are both built in.
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I took a lot of the available space for this review to look at the music capabilities of this phone because that is what Nokia is talking up. In all honesty I can’t recommend it over other music phones I’ve seen, or over a dedicated music player and its low overall score reflects this.
However I do like it as a handset. Its ergonomics and general ‘usability’ are very good, it has a superb screen, is small in the pocket, and I like the slider format a lot. In terms of the latter this handset has probably knocked away the last chink in my ant-slider feelings.