The top of the Nokia 5130 features the charger plug, the 3.5mm standard audio jack and the microUSB jack. Of those only the last one is treated with a small plastic lid to protect it from dust and dirt.
The right side of the phone features the microSD card slot, which we managed to confirm has no problem handling a 16GB memory card. It took a while to complete the initial scan but handling it from then on was nice and quick.
The only other thing of interest here are the volume keys, which are decently-sized and generally no problem to use.
The only functional element on the left side of the Nokia 5130 XpressMusic (in addition to the dedicated music keys) is the lanyard eyelet. The music keys themselves bear the same traits as the volume buttons - large and solid to press - we had no problems with them for the time of the review.
The bottom is perfectly plain with no controls whatsoever.
The two megapixel flash-less camera and the loudspeaker occupy the back of the phone. The loudspeaker lies beneath an interesting-looking dotted pattern on the back panel.
As you will see in the dedicated section of this review, the lens aperture fitted on the back panel of the Nokia 5130 is made out of quite inferior quality reducing contrast in camera images. Those turn quite better with the back cover off.
Under the battery cover is the 1020 mAh BL-5C Li-Ion battery. It is quoted at 6 hours of talk time, 288 hours of stand-by and an impressive 21 hours of music playback, which puts it somewhere between 5310 and 5220 XpressMusic handsets.
Its real life performance is also pretty decent with the phone surviving about three days of extensive use. While this number may seem higher than what most high-end competitors have to offer, bear in mind that the Nokia 5130 has no power-hungry features like Wi-Fi and GPS to drain the battery down.
The general build quality of the Nokia 5130 seems great with the high-quality of the plastic plain to see. While a week-long review can't tell the whole story, we're willing to bet that it's pretty durable as well.
The main menu in Nokia 5130 classic has four different view modes: a grid of icons with or without labels, a list of items, and tabs. While each of them has its pros and cons, our personal choice remains the classic 3 x 3 grid of icons with labels underneath. If you prefer more icons to appear on screen, you can go for the view without text that displays as a 4 x 3 grid.
As usual, you can intuitively access the menu items through keyboard shortcuts. The color background of the entire menu, as well as the wallpaper on the display, can be easily modified by changing the active theme.The menu responds nicely with no lags.
There are six predefined ringing profiles on the Nokia 5130. These should be enough to suit practically any situation you could possible face.
Unfortunately there is no Flight mode to allow you to turn off transceivers on the phone and just use it as an MP3 player. Regardless of the price, this is an XpressMusic phone and not having that option is just plain odd.
Another weird decision is removing the active standby mode - a real treat in both S40 and Symbian S60. In return, the 5130 has only the four-shortcut screen mode, which we admit is sometimes helpful, but bears no comparison to the active standby.
Furthermore, the Nokia S40 implementation used has long lost its charms and fails to adequately meet the increasing pressure from Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson. Those companies offer quite advanced feature phone interfaces including Flash Lite based UI themes, smart dialing, task switching for Java multitasking and office document viewers - not to mention their more elaborate image galleries.
The way we see it, as it stands now Nokia S40 is the underdog among the offered solutions. Nokia Maps for S40 that's available on the very latest S40 devices compensates for that to an extent, but it's still not enough.