Above the Nokia 5230 display we find the earpiece, a touch-sensitive Media key and a couple of sensors. The Nokia trademark Media key triggers a drop down menu of shortcuts to media and web. Its sensitivity though is lower than the display’s so you’ll need to press down just a bit harder for it to work.
The two sensors above detect ambient light and proximity. The proximity sensor is used for turning the touchscreen off during calls so you don’t press anything by accident.
Under the display are the three keys usually found on Nokia touchscreen devices. Those include the Call and End buttons and the menu knob. A press-and-hold on the menu key also launches the task manager as the Symbian tradition goes. The keys are quite comfortable, with good tactility and adequate press.
Nokia 5230 has the crowded top of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. Here you will find the power key, the microUSB port, charger plug and 3.5mm standard audio jack.
There is a protective cover for the microUSB port to keep dust away. The audio jack however hasn’t received the same treatment. Unluckily, the Nokia 5230 doesn’t charge off the microUSB port. It’s a pity since it might have given you some extra flexibility at times when you have no charger at hand.
The volume rocker, the screen-lock switch and the camera key are all on the Nokia 5230 right side. The screen lock is undoubtedly the one you will use the most so it is nice that it is large and tactile enough, and haptic enabled too. The camera key is good too, though the 2MP shooter it launches is nothing much to write home about.
Unfortunately, the things we disliked about the volume rocker in the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic are the same here. It is virtually flat with the frame of the front panel and thus too hard to press.
Moving on to the Nokia 5230 bottom we find nothing but the mouthpiece. There’s no stylus compartment this time.
The left side of the phone features a couple of rather big plastic covers. Under those hide the microSD card slot and the SIM card compartment. We had no trouble inserting and ejecting a memory card. The SIM though needs a pointed object to be released. Just don’t think you can hot-swap your SIM card as this is simply not going to happen. Even if you manage to take it out somehow without removing the battery, the handset won’t recognize a new card properly without being restarted.
The lanyard attaches at the left side of Nokia 5230 and the single speaker grill is also here. No stereo sound for you with the Nokia 5230 in loudspeaker mode we are afraid.
The back of the 5230 is pretty plain, featuring only the 2 megapixel camera lens. There is no flash this time, and the low-end image resolution makes it pretty clear that the handset isn’t into photography at all.
Removing the battery cover reveals the Nokia 5230 1320 mAh Li-Ion BL-5J battery. It is said to last 432 hours in standby, 7 hours of talk time or 33 hours of music playback in offline mode. In reality it kept our phone going for three days of moderate usage (half an hour of web browsing, the occasional photo and a few calls a day).
The Nokia 5230 build quality is generally good. It’s all plastic but the price range hardly implies otherwise.
Adding the friendly dimensions, the 5230 provides very good user experience and trouble-free single-hand operation.