We were very pleased with the sliding mechanism of the Nokia 5300 since it offered smooth action and had a rather nice assisting spring, which would open and respectively close the device with almost no effort at all.
The keypad of the 5300 proved extremely comfortable to work with and SMS-fans would be more than pleased with it. But our impression is that the comfortable keypad is something usual for recent mobiles in the slider form factor. Yet we greatly appreciated the positive feedback of the large keys, which are especially comfortable for people with large fingers. The same holds true for the navigation D-pad as well which is far better than most of the Sony Ericsson solutions. It reacts to the finger press instantly and sinks in the pressed direction smoothly with almost no resistance.
The keypad has an even blue backlighting and makes a very nice impression. We can say only good words for the display too. There is absolutely no legibility problem with it even under direct sunlight. That is something common for all Nokia mobiles and we must say that as regards displays, they certainly lead the way. Otherwise, the display offers nice level of brightness and the colors are crisp and eye pleasing.
The Nokia 5300 offers great sound quality and exceptional voice clarity during calls and we had no problems with the network signal either. But that is standard nowadays and we wouldn't expect any less. The loudspeaker has nice volume level and you would hardly miss a call even in a busy street. It's perfectly on par with the quality and loudness of the Sony Ericsson W850 loudspeaker which we reviewed not long ago.
The 5300 could be set to accept an incoming call when you slide it open, something the W850 is capable of, but can also end the current call when you slide it down - something that W850 cannot do.
The standard standby screen shows the signal strength, the battery capacity, the date and the clock (digital or analogue), the carrier name, and the active profile (if different than Normal). The two soft keys can be assigned a function according to the user's preference. A wise choice would be to assign the Go To menu to one of the keys - this menu includes frequently used functions and is totally user configurable. The four ways of the navigation D-pad can also be assigned some functions. You may also want to place a cross with the icons of the assigned functions in the middle of the display - at least in the beginning while you remember them. The interface can be customized through graphic themes but they don't really change much - the only things that change are the wallpaper, the menu background and the color scheme.
A nice innovation is that the S40 user interface now comes with support for Flash Lite 2.0 instead of version 1.1 - same as Sony Ericsson phones, so now it can use flash clips as wallpapers or screensavers.
A pleasant fact is that you can choose the colors of the text on the standby screen from a wide array of available colors. Unfortunately, changing the font color is not available throughout the whole menu and when using some graphic themes legibility is not perfect.
The most interesting option as regards the standby screen is the Active stand-by mode, where all favorite applications' icons, music functions, upcoming events from the calendar, and notes appear on the display - much like the one seen on Symbian phones with the third edition of the S60 Nokia user interface. When you have the Active stand-by mode switched on, pressing UP on the D-pad gives you access to the icon bar and your favorite functions such as the MP3 player, the FM radio or the calendar.
The main menu features a fixed set of items but they can be freely organized in four different ways: as a list, as a 3 x 4 grid matrix, as a 3 x 3 grid matrix with labels, and as horizontal tabs. The second option, a plain table without legends, permits the visualization of 12 icons en bloc and is probably the most space-saving one. Icons can be additionally reordered according to the user's preference. It must be noted that they resemble a lot the icons used in the third edition of the S60 Nokia user interface.
Font size is again subject of configuration. Inside the phonebook there are two font options, while in the message application and the Internet browser you can choose out of three. The largest font is truly large; on the other hand the smallest one permits you to see an entire SMS en bloc.
As you can see, Nokia 5300 allows a great deal of user-configurable options and the interface may be greatly suited to the user's own taste.
The ringing profiles include settings such as type of incoming call alert, ringtone, ringing volume and vibration alert, sounds serving Push to talk, messages, notifications and warning tones and the keypad sounds. A great thing about the profiles is that they offer timed expiration so you won't forget to turn the sounds of your phone back on after that all-important meeting. You can even set a profile to be turned automatically on once plug in an accessory as the charger, for example. The phone offers a dedicated Airplane profile that switches off all active network connections in order to use the phone as a multimedia/radio player only in environments that do not allow cell phones. When the Airplane mode is switched on a large Airplane icon appears on the top of the screen. There is even an option to make the phone ask you every time you turn it on whether you would like the phone started directly into the Airplane profile.
A nice innovation to the S40 interface is the possibility to use video recordings as incoming call alert. We got to point out though, that video files do not have the best sound quality.