Nokia 5530 XpressMusic review: Winner by design

GSMArena team, 20 August 2009.
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Good connectivity for the price

The lack of high-speed data on Nokia 5530 XpressMusic is probably damning its ambitions in more developed 3G markets but in countries where fast network data is still expensive or non-existent, Wi-Fi will probably be much appreciated. GPS is another unticked box on the connectivity sheet but the rest of it is pretty well covered.

Both USB and Bluetooth are version 2.0 and the latter naturally also supports A2DP. Unfortunately, the 5530 doesn't charge off its microUSB port unlike all other recent Nokia phones.

Wi-Fi with UPnP is also at hand. In fact, the Wi-Fi connectivity is certainly one of the key features of the Nokia 5530 - the handset is one of the cheapest Wi-Fi enabled full-touchscreen handset currently on the market.

In the absence of 3G you will have to rely on GPRS and EDGE for you network data transfers. The quad-band support means that the handset is fully capable of world-wide roaming.

The Nokia 5530 XpressMusic also comes complete with a memory card slot. Coupled with a card reader it can usually give you the fastest data transfer rates.

And finally, there's the standard 3.5mm audio jack, which allows you to use your own headphones, but doesn't have TV-out functionality.

Web browser moves forward

The web browser of Nokia 5530 XpressMusic has seen some improvement over its first version introduced with the 5800. Kinetic scrolling is certainly the biggest change but the overall browsing speed also seems a bit better. Unluckily, the lower speed of EDGE compared to 3G offsets that advantage on most occasions.

As you'll see the touch web browser has quite a lot of modern features:

  • The page rendering algorithm is quite good
  • There are also five different font sizes to pick from
  • There's username/password and web forms storing and auto-filling system
  • There is also a built-in RSS reader
  • A download manager allows you to download files while web browsing
  • There's also a popup blocker
  • A minimap is available for finding your way around large pages
  • And the Find on page feature allows you search for keywords
  • There's suport for opening multiple windows simultaneously
  • The visual history is a nice bonus that can help you find a page you've visited more easily
  • And finally, the web browser has support for Flash and Flash video, which means you can enjoy Flash videos straight in your browser.

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The web browser improves steadily

We did notice though occasional web browser crashes. That usually happened when there were many other applications running, so it might be attributed to depleting RAM. Closing applications you are currently using will help but that's not the best way to serve users. Especially since users have no left those applications deliberately running in the background but it's more of an automatic thing.

Another disadvantage is concerning the newly introduced kinetic scrolling - it is certainly a nice feature to have on board and all but its implementation in the web browser needs polishing. The scrolling is there but it lacks the momentum you see when scrolling listed items in the menu and you'll need several sweeps for even moderately-sized pages. Besides, it gets pretty bumpy at times, instead of the smooth scrolling on some competitors. Fingers crossed that and the awkward process management will be addressed in a firmware update some time soon.

Continuing our grudges with the web browser, if you happen to be in portrait mode and choose the fit-to-width zoom level, the text does not automatically center onscreen. Instead you will have to align it manually, which is nonsense really.

Double tapping any text zooms it in on screen, but again, the text doesn't fit the zoomed area and you still need to scroll sideways. Plus the double tapping magic doesn't seem to work every time. At times you need to tap it more than 3 or 4 times to actually get it to work - it's quite random really.

And finally, we'd really like to see an option to open links in new window.

So, generally speaking, the S60 touch-browser is going in the right direction but there's still a lot of work to be done to catch up with the rest. The improved usability is a nice start but it's nowhere near the iPhone or Android standards. The same goes for the resolution, which is a lot better than the QVGA non-touch predecessors but hardly a match for the WVGA.

Time-management capabilities are good enough

The S60 5th edition organizer is pretty well geared although its applications are already in need of a refreshment - especially on a touchscreen. Some of the apps are starting to look boring and dated, staying the same for over 3 years now.

Just as with the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and N97, developers were hesitant to put the touch input to some good usage and maybe some cool new features. They have only gone as far as to touch-optimize the S60 3rd edition apps.

The calendar has four different view modes - monthly, weekly, daily and to-do, which allows you to check all your To-Do entries regardless of their date. There are four types of events available for setting up - Meeting, Memo, Anniversary and To-do. Each event has unique fields of its own, and some of them allow an alarm to be activated at a preset time to act as a reminder.

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The calendar

Strange enough, the Quickoffice application wasn't preinstalled on our Nokia 5530 XpressMusic. Instead we had to go and get it from the Nokia download center. Considering it's free of charge we are willing to let that one go.

With Quickoffice you can view Word, Excel and PowerPoint files seamlessly but of course, editing documents comes for a fee. The PDF viewer was missing too at the start but again the Nokia download center solved our problem.

Update 06 October: Many users contacted us, saying that they are unable to download the Quickoffice app from their handsets. With the developer's official website also not offering it for download that means that those users can only get the paid version of the app. That is quite a disappointment considering that it would cost Nokia next to nothing to preinstall what is one of the most useful apps on board. Not cool Nokia, not cool.

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Viewing documents with the Quickoffice is hassle-free

The calculator application is well familiar but it lacks the functionality of some of its competitors. The square root is the most complicated function it handles and this is no longer considered an achievement. If all you do with it is split the bill at the bar though, you're free to disregard that last sentence.

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The calculator

The organizer package also includes a great unit converter voice recorder, as well as the Notes application.

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The converter and the voice recorder that come preinstalled

The alarm application allows you to set up as many alarms as you want, each with its own name, trigger day and repeat pattern. If this seems too complicated, there is a quick alarm setup where all you do is set the time and you're good to go. Thanks to the built-in accelerometer you can also snooze the alarm by simply flipping your phone.

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The alarm clock application

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