Reviewed June 18, 2008 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The last generation Nokia XpressMusic phone, the Nokia 5300, sold well on T-Mobile USA. But thin is in, and the phone was ripe for a redesign. And so T-Mobile has picked two new models for the US market: the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone which became available in May 2008 and the Nokia 5610 XpressMusic phone running S60 that's coming soon. The Nokia 5310 is a wild departure from the Nokia 5300 in form and design, sporting an ultra-thin candy bar casing compared to the slider 5300's chubby body. The phone is stylish and sturdy, runs Nokia Series 40 3rd Edition UI and has a 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support and a microSD card slot that supports SDHC. The phone is primed for a great music experience: it has a standard 3.5mm headset jack, excellent loudspeaker, comes with a wired stereo headset, FM radio, a 1GB microSD card and USB cable for side loading music.
The Nokia 5310 is a US tri-band phone that works on the 850/1800/1900 MHz GSM bands and T-Mobile is the exclusive US carrier that offers this phone. The Nokia 5310 has GPRS and EDGE for data and comes in three colors: red, orange and purple. The Nokia is a MyFaves phone.
If you like your phone the same way you like thin crust pizza, then you will like the look of the Nokia 5310. The 0.39-inch thin 5310 is much slimmer than the Nokia 5300 XpressMusic phone, although the Nokia 5300 is a slider phone while the Nokia 5310 is a candy bar phone. The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone has a beautiful look and a clean design. The two-color combo gives the phone a pleasing aesthetic and the patterned back cover adds more style. The phone feels well built and even though very thin, it has some heft that feels good in hand. The 2-inch QVGA display looks very bright and color saturated, and can turn to landscape mode in camera application.
We love the music buttons which are large and easy to use thanks to the clever design that put them on the front curved edge. We aren't too crazy about the number keys however, even though they are large enough but the glossy surface makes them slippery. The same thing goes for the d-pad which isn't ultra-small but is too slippery. In addition to very useable dedicated music control buttons, the Nokia 5310 has two other nice features for music lovers: a 3.5mm headphone jack that works with most stereo headsets and the excellent rear firing loudspeaker. The micro USB port on top of the phone allows you to sync to and copy files between the phone and desktop PC, and the 2 megapixel camera lives on the back of the Nokia. The microSD card slot is under the battery door but it doesn't require battery removal for access. The SIM card however does require you to remove the battery to release the card.
Phone Calls and Web
Many Nokia phones are strong RF monsters, but the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone isn't one of them. The reception is good but not excellent and gets full signal bars only in well-covered areas. Call quality doesn't suffer however and the phone has not dropped a call on T-Mobile. The voice quality is very good on both incoming and outgoing ends, and the volume is very loud through the earpiece and the excellent loudspeaker. We did get the phantom new voice mail indicator when powering on the phone--a problem we've seen with other Nokia phones only on T-Mobile.
The Nokia comes with an address book that can store up to 2000 entries, 1-touch speed dials (2-9) and has support for SMS, MMS (300 kb) and web-based email and IM. The Nokia 5310 comes with voice command software that works quite differently from other popular voice command software packages such as VoiceSignal and Cyberon. Voice command can launch a list of applications, services and tools and allows you to speak the name of your contact to dial. The voice recognition doesn't work very well out of the box, and works reasonably well after going through voice training. It helps if the same person who trains the voice recognition uses voice command rather than another person.
The Nokia 5310 has Bluetooth 2.0 and supports headset and hands-free profiles. We tested several Bluetooth headsets for phone calls, the phone worked generally well with all. The sound quality was good via the Plantronics Explorer 330 and the Jawbone 2 on both incoming and outgoing voice, but sounded muffled through the Nokia BH-902. The volume was loud on all headsets except the Nokia 902, and the range wasn't very impressive: 10 feet with the Jawbone 2, 8 feet with the Nokia 902 and 5 feet with the Plantronics. Voice activated command and dialing worked about the same over Bluetooth headsets as via the phone's built-in mic.
Music and Gaming Rock
The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic rocks as a music phone: the 3.5mm audio jack works with most wired stereo headsets and the package comes with one that sounds crisp and full. The loudspeaker sounds equally as good and very loud. But the best sound quality came via the Samsung SBH500 Bluetooth stereo headset that added even stronger bass in addition to clear sound and great stereo separation.
The music player supports playlists and can sort your songs by artists, albums and genres. It has a basic equalizer and allows multi-tasking while playing music. For radio listeners, the Nokia 5310 comes with FM radio. You will need to use the included wired headset as the radio's antenna. The sound quality is very good through the headset and the FM radio application will automatically find your local stations, save your favorite stations and provide visual radio services.
The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone doesn't rely on the phone's memory to store music as the internal memory amounts to just a little over 7MB at boot (30MB total). But the phone comes with a microSD card slot that supports SDHC cards. Better yet, the T-Mobile package includes a 1GB card to get you started. Very nice!
The great audio quality also provides an advantage when it comes to gaming. The Nokia 5310 supports Java games and you can buy games and download them over the air. The phone isn't the fastest at loading games but in-game speed is very good. The d-pad feels a little slippery for gaming but the great display and excellent audio more than make up for the shortfall in gaming experience as a whole.
Smile for the Camera
Nokia has done a wonderful job at producing and improving their 5 megapixel and 3 megapixel camera phones, and anyone who's used a Nokia N95 or a Nokia N78 will attest to that statement. The same thing cannot be said about their 2 megapixel camera phones. That's not to say they are bad, just they are not stellar like the N95 or the N78 that lead in their own class of camera phones. The 2 megapixel camera on the Nokia 5310 takes good photos with proper color balance and good brightness. The images don't have a huge amount of detail and there's some noise in both indoor and outdoor shots. There's a tendency to white-out bright objects which isn't unusual in this class of camera phone. You can take still images at 7 resolutions: 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 1024, 1280 x 960, 800 x 600, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 and 160 x 120. The camera software can rotate the display to landscape mode.
Video quality is also decent but not brilliant. The videos look passable and audio is in sync with video. The phone allows you to take short MMS videos or max length video that's limited only by available storage. Video resolutions are 176 x 144 and 128 x 96 at 15fps.
The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone has a rechargeable battery that's 840mAh in capacity. The battery life is good for talking and playing music but short in standby. The claimed talk time is 5.4 hours and our tests showed that it lasted 4 hours on T-Mobile. The claimed music playback time is 18 hours and our tests showed that the phone could last at least that long. The claimed 12.5-day standby time is much over estimated and our tests showed that the phone lasted less than a week in standby. The battery is user replaceable and the included AC world charger (100-240V) uses the same connector as other recent Nokia phone chargers.
If you like music-centric phones that also look sleek and thin, you will get along with the Nokia 5310 famously. The phone isn't super-fast, but it gets the job done. Phone calls are very clear and loud and listening to music is a joy. The included accessories make it a complete music experience right out of the box and the price with contract is attractive.
Pro: Thin and sleek looking phone. Great audio quality. 1GB microSD card and stereo wired headset included. USB cable included for side-loading music. A good web browser and a decent camera.
Con: Voice recognition doesn't work well out of the box. Number keys and d-pad are too slippery. Not quad band, missing the 900MHz band used heavily in Europe.
Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract. $199.99 without a contract.
Display: 16 million color display, resolution QVGA 240 x 320. Diag.: 2".
Battery:Nokia standard rechargeable battery (BL-4CT), 860mAh. Battery is user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 5.4 hours and music playback time: up to 18 hours. Claimed standby time: up to 12.5 days.
Performance:30MB internal memory, 7.2 MB available at boot. Phone book can store up to 2000 entries.
Size:1.76 x 4.09 x 0.39 inches. Weight: 2.48 ounces.
Phone:Tri-band 850/1800/1900 MHz GSM, GPRS and EDGE for data.
Camera:2 megapixel with up to 4x digital zoom. Still image resolutions: 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 1024, 1280 x 960, 800 x 600, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 and 160 x 120. Can take video with audio. Video resolutions: 176 x 144 and 128 x 96.
Audio:Built-in mic and speaker, 3.5mm standard headphone jack. 64 polyphonic ringtones, MP3 and video ringtone support. MP3 player onboard to play MP3, AAC, eAAC+, MP4 and WMA audio files. Voice recorder included. Supports vibration alert.
Software:Nokia 3rd Edition Series 40 user interface with Active Standby. myFaves enabled. PIM applications include contacts, calendar, to-do list, notes, calculator, stopwatch, alarm clock and countdown timer. Media Player included for your MP3 pleasure. FM radio with included headset as antenna.
Expansion:1 microSD card slot, supports SDHC cards. Package includes a 1GB card.
In the Box:The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone with standard battery, wired stereo headset (HS-45 with AD-57), AC charger, micro USB cable (CA-101), 1GB microSD card and printed manual and guide.