If you're looking for a well-priced and versatile touch-screen phone, the Nokia 5800 should definitely feature high on your list, particularly if you're used to the Nokia interface and are looking for a full range of media features.
The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic has created something of a stir in the mobile world as it is the phone giant's first touch-screen phone. So how does Nokia fare against its already deeply entrenched rivals such as Apple and HTC?
At first glance, we were a little hesitant as the casing has a somewhat cheap and plastic feel and is not to up to Nokia's usual standard. However, after a bit of time with the device it's pretty clear that it won't be breaking apart in your hand any time soon.
Like many of the new touch-screen mobiles, the 5800 XpressMusic has a limited number of buttons. There are just three keys on the front - start call, end call and menu; volume up and down and a camera button on the side; and a power button on the top. We would have liked a four-way cursor pad around the menu key to help when operating the phone single handed, particularly with gloves on.
The advantage of so few buttons is that the entire device is fairly slim and not much bigger than the screen, so it will slip comfortably into most pockets and handbags.
At the top of the 5800 there is also a charger socket, a standard 3.5mm socket for connecting headphones and a covered micro-USB slot for connecting the device to a PC. On the right is an incredibly handy slider making it very easy to lock and unlock the device so that you don't accidentally dial China while the phone is in your pocket.
On the left are covers for the SIM and memory card slots. Interestingly, in order to take out the SIM you have to remove the back cover and battery anyway, which defeats the object of having it so easily accessible.
However, the microSD slot is spring loaded so that cards can be easily removed and inserted. This is neither here nor there for the majority of users who will leave the preloaded 8GB memory card in the device. But for those who need to swap out the memory cards regularly, for instance if they have libraries of content spanning several cards, not having to balance a battery and a cover while changing over two tiny cards can be an attractive feature.
In general, Nokia has done a great job with the 5800's interface. The touch screen is nice and responsive, and the little buzz of haptic feedback that occurs every time something is selected is a great feature as it adds confirmation that a command has been received. In terms of the operating system, Nokia is using its popular Symbian S60, so those familiar with any of its E-series and other S60-based devices will be right at home.
Most importantly the software is quick, something that Windows Mobile devices often struggle with. Even with a few applications running in the background, navigation is nice and smooth and the phone is quick to respond to input. Even the automatic switching between portrait and landscape orientation is quite fast.
Our only real gripe with the interface is that it feels like it takes too long to do anything. For instance, you have to double tap just about everything. The first time highlights the object and the second time selects it. Similarly, the keyboard is essentially a standalone application rather than appearing as part of whatever application you're in. When you select an editable field, the keyboard application fires up, you then enter the text and it is copied back into the original when you're done.
This has the advantage that you don't have a keyboard cluttering up valuable screen space when you perhaps don't need it, but it does add to the slightly cumbersome and overcomplicated feeling.
Perhaps we've become too accustomed to Windows Mobile and the iPhone's operating system, but ultimately the mobile experience has to centre around ease of use, something that the developers of Google's Android seems to have understood right from the start.