The market for music phones is growing every month. Demand for integration and combination is adding increased pressure on manufacturers such as Sony and Nokia to combine the functionality of an MP3 player inside a cellphone. Nokia's latest effort, the 5300 XpressMusic from T-Mobile is a valiant effort that comes with both faults and favors. If you're thinking about leaving the iPod at home and using your phone as a music player, read on to see if it's worth saying goodbye.
As far as design goes, the Nokia 5300 XpressMusic has functionality in mind, but certainly not style. One of the thicker slider-phones out there, this thing feels really big in my jeans pocket. However, if you're wearing a coat or jacket with an inside pocket, then you won't mind carrying it around. The 5300 XpressMusic features dedicated music control buttons, volume control, and a camera button – all on the sides of the display. There's also a joypad, center button, 4 additional buttons, and a numpad when you slide the phone upright.
Personally, I'm not a fan of the Symbian 60 OS that Nokia tends to go wild with most of the time. It's very clunky and hard to use. Thankfully, this phone doesn't use it. The UI Nokia has gone with is very friendly, crisp, and a welcome change to a world of VCAST and Motorola menus. It's extremely responsive and not once does it ever lag between commands. Nokia's music player software works just fine although there's nothing special about it. Just drag and drop your files and you're good to go.
Among the music-related features on the 5300 XpressMusic are several other assets that make this phone worth buying. Those of you who use AIM or any other IM a lot will be pleased with the full-feature IM client on this phone. That “Mobile Buddies” list? Delete it. You won't be needing it this time around. The included 1.3MP camera is better than most around (RAZR, Sidekick 3) and takes decent photos suitable for web viewing as long as you have good lighting.
What about the reception though? Nokia has always had a reputation for strong signals and crystal clear reception and the 5300 XpressMusic is no exception. Calls are pleasant on the ears and you won't find yourself going “Hello, hello?” repeatedly over and over. Don't worry about this phone dying either. Standby time with on/off talk time let me go three-and-a-half days without charging.
So with Nokia getting back into the T-Mobile lineup, is it time to switch? Those of you who need better reception with the ‘Mo should definitely consider the 5300, if not for the extra features. Plus with the current rebate schpiel going on currently, you can snag it for under $100. Not bad. However, since music storage is limited to microSD cards, you might want to just move on and keep the iPod handy.