The Nokia 5130 XpressMusic comes in one of the smallest boxes we have ever seen. It's not that there is nothing to find inside, it's just that you can fit about four of those in the N96 retail box.
Almost the size of a ring box, the Nokia 5130 package includes the tiniest USB cable one could possibly imagine. Stretching to just a few centimeters it, can only be used with the phone lying next to the USB slot.
The other items in the box are a charger, a one-piece handsfree and a 1GB microSD card. It's strictly no frills but considering the price the box has everything you might need.
The first thing that struck us when we first got hold of the Nokia 5130 is that is has lost one of its most appealing features; namely, the slim waistline that has made the Nokia 6300 a resounding success and which worked equally well on the Nokia 5310 and Nokia 6500 classic almost a year later.
The Nokia 5130 XpressMusic stands at 107.5 x 46.7 x 14.8 mm and even though it retains a modest volume of 65 cc, it doesn't feel as compact as its slim siblings. Now don't get us wrong - the handset is still almost as pocketable as it gets it's just that up until now a slim S40 handset has always equaled success and we can't see a reason for abandoning a winning formula.
The weight has also been increased to 88 grams from 71 g in the Nokia 5310. Most of these numbers however are unlikely to bother potential users and we don't find the difference disturbing at all when holding the two phones in our hands.
The design is where the Nokia 5130 XpressMusic has a definite edge over the 5310, at least as far as our team is concerned. The shiny plastic on the 5130 looks and definitely feels a whole lot better than the opaque finish on the 5310 XM.
In addition, the trendy dotted pattern on the back and the illuminated indicators over the music keys make the phone a whole lot more appealing, even if it's clearly aimed at a more youthful audience.
The top half of the front panel is mostly taken up by the 2" QVGA display. It offers reasonable image quality with decent brightness and contrast. The vibrant screen is certainly helped by a pixel density comparable to some of the best on the market.
Neither backlighting nor contrast is user-configurable. In the menu you can only set the phone's behavior in power-saving mode. An animated screen-saver can be set to appear on the display and, consequently, convert into a screen-saver showing a digital clock, the current date, and icons indicating missed events, if any.
All these are perfectly legible under any lighting. Colors do get washed out in the sun but usability remains undiminished.
Above the display is just the earpiece as the Nokia 5130 XpressMusic lacks an ambient light sensor.
On the left of the front panel we find the pleasant illuminations over the dedicated music keys. The keys themselves are on the side and those lights make finding them without turning the phone a whole lot easier.
Below the display is the D-pad along with the four keys that usually surround it on S40 handsets. Those include two soft keys as well as call and end buttons. While the rim of the D-pad certainly could have been thicker, the fact that it is slightly elevated still makes it very usable even to people with larger hands.
We finish our tour of the front with the keypad. The 12-key alphanumeric unit on the Nokia 5130 is a fairly decent performer with nice tactile feedback and large comfortable keys. There is hardly any spacing between them and a terraced layout might have improved the keypad even further, but it's good enough as it stands now.