Nokia X5-01 review: Round the square

GSMArena team, 01 November 2010.
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Square phone in an oblong box

The in-box contents of the Nokia X5-01 package were not really out of the ordinary and to be honest were a little disappointing. There’s a charger (the big one, not the nicer compact variety), a short microUSB cable and a one piece headset.

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The Nokia X5-01 retail package is unimpressive

The best bit in the box besides the phone itself is the 2GB microSD card. The phone can handle cards of up to 32GB.

Nokia X5-01 360-degree spin

A compact but capable messenger is what the Nokia X5-01 strives to be. And it almost achieves it. The face measures 74.3 x 66.4mm, which is good but the 16.9mm of thickness is a challenge to pocketability.

The 129 grams of weight don’t do much for the small stature of the device either. The screen and QWERTY keyboard are pretty cramped – a necessary sacrifice to reach the size limit of the X5-01.

Design and construction

The Nokia X5-01 is not a phone that will be universally regarded as attractive but it does have its charms. It’s fairly unique in a sea of bar-shaped phones and the occasional slider.

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The Nokia X5-01 is one unusual looking phone

We got the Graphite Black version, but there are more playful colors than that to choose from. Not for the suit-and-tie businessmen certainly but maybe Nokia want to appeal beyond that niche market.

The screen is vertically centered, but because there’s little above the screen it appears to be lower than it actually is. This makes it a bit of an odd fish in a world where a screen is usually on the upper side of the phone’s face.

The landscape 2.36" 256K-color display of 320 x 240 pixel resolution is actually what the E72 and E5 have to work with. But still, sliders traditionally have bigger screens than their candybar counterparts so we were a little disappointed.

The image quality of the display is average – it’s bright enough but the colors are a bit washed out and the contrast doesn’t help much. You can actually spot some slight but distracting flicker on the display too. The viewing angles are average but the sunlight legibility is good.

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The average 2.36” display

Underneath the screen, the navigation deck is squeezed on a long but rather narrow strip. It’s built around a smaller than usual D-pad, whose Up key is harder to press than the other directions.

There are three keys on each side of the D-pad – each group of three is made of a single piece of bendy plastic. There’s one soft key and one call key on each side and the Home key on the left and the dedicated Media key on the right.

The keys are close together and there’s no clear separation between them. That makes them hard to use and mispresses are fairly common. If you have big fingers, you may be in trouble. By the way, the D-pad has a notification backlighting and pulsates when there’s a new event.

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The earpiece and light sensor above the screen • The stretched out navigation pad

Now is a good time to visit the QWERTY keyboard. A short slide of the top half reveals it. And we mean short – it barely makes it across half the height of the phone. This doesn’t leave much space for the four-row QWERTY and it shows.

The top row is unpleasantly cramped (a common problem with QWERTY sliders) but the other keys are decently big and with good tactile response. However, there’s no separation between them and the typing experience overall is worse than other compact messengers we’ve seen recently.

Other than that, the backlighting of the keyboard is even though not very strong.

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The full QWERTY keyboard feels cramped

The slider is spring assisted and smooth. You can also set it up to answer incoming calls when you slide it open and lock the keyboard when you close it. The only thing here to complain about is that it doesn’t slide a little further to give the top row of the keyboard some breathing space.

The sides of the Nokia X5-01 are nearly free of controls – the left side has nothing to show, while the right side features a small, thin volume rocker.

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Not much to see on either side of the Nokia X5-01

On the top side we find the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port, which is hidden under a protective flap. The audio jack is left in the open – with music taking up such a big part of the Nokia X5-01’s resume, it will probably be busy all the time anyway. The microUSB port takes on charging duties – the traditional 2mm charger plug is MIA.

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microUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack on the top • The loudspeaker on the bottom

The bottom has two grills – but the only loudspeaker is under one of them and the other is just for symmetry.

On the back is the 5MP camera and its tiny LED flash. The camera lens is unprotected – it only has the curviness of the back to protect it from scratches.

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5-megapixel camera lacks autofocus

Above the camera lens is the largest lanyard we’ve ever seen. Most of the rear is a metal battery cover, which locks into place via a latch at the bottom. Under the cover is the 950 mAh Li-Ion BL-5F battery, which powers the Nokia X5-01. The battery is quoted at up to 384 hours of standby and up to 5 hours of talk-time.

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The 950 mAh Li-Ion battery

The Nokia X5-01 is a bit wide compared to most other phones, which can make handling it uncomfortable. Still, you can find a comfy hold for the X5-01 (its curved back helps in this regard). The build is pretty solid, it’s just that the slider has a slight wobble to it.

The brushed metal back and the unusual overall look of the phone add a few points to its likability and someone with a limited purse space will find that the Nokia X5-01 is a perfect fit. Pocketability is less certain – those 16.9mm of thickness rule out tight pockets.

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The Nokia X5-01 held in hand

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