London (UK) – It took Nokia some time to come up with an adequate answer to Apple’s iPhone: The 5800 XpressMusic touchscreen phone could be considered the first serious rival for the iPhone and it seems that Nokia may be trying to beat Apple at its own game: Take the fest features of your competitor, fix the most obvious mistakes and wrap the whole product in a stylish package. Is Apple falling behind?
The world’s largest cellphone maker today released its first-ever touchscreen phone called 5800 XpressMusic. It beats the iPhone in key hardware features such as screen resolution, camera and battery life. Despite being powered by Symbian Series 60, however, it lacks certain software features, attractive applications, multi-touch, and the easy-to-use interface that made the iPhone famous. What truly sets the phone apart from Apple is unlimited over-the-air access to the entire music catalog on the Nokia Music Store service valid for one year.
Key features of the phone include a 3.2” 640×360 pixel screen resolution (versus 480×320 in the iPhone) , a 3.2 megapixel camera with video recording capability (640×480) and dual-LED flash, a stylus, video-out support and a replaceable battery. The design of the device is always a matter of taste, but at least the footprint of the device is a bit smaller than that of the iPhone, while it is slightly thicker. The 5800 measures 111 mm x 51.7 mm x 15.1 mm versus the iPhone’s 115.5 mm x 62.1 mm x 12.3 mm. However, the 5800 is lighter than the iPhone (109 g versus 133 g). The included lithium-ion battery provides five hours of talk time on WCDMA and up to 9 hours on GSM networks, up to 35 hours of music playback, up to 5 hours of MPEG4 video playback and 17 days in standby mode, Nokia said.
The screen responds to both stylus and finger touch input and has tactile feedback but it lacks Apple-patented multi-touch capability and multi-fingered gestures. Like Apple’s phone, it has a proximity sensor that prevents inadvertent touches when a user is on a call.
The 3.2-megapixel camera (2-megapixel in the iPhone) has a dual-LED flash for low-light conditions, autofocus, a Carl Zeiss lens, and video capture support in VGA-quality at 30 frames per second as well as built-in surround sound stereo speakers. The accompanied software enables quick photo or video sharing via Flickr, Facebook and Nokia’ own Ovi service. The handset has 150 MB of internal memory (81 MB free) that can be expanded to 16 GB through MicroSD memory card. Nokia ships the phone with the 8 GB memory card by default.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic supports EDGE and high-speed 3G HSDPA, in addition to Wi-Fi. It also integrates Bluetooth to connect the device to a wide array of different Bluetooth devices, such as stereo headsets, printers. Additional, there is support for USB 2.0 and MicroUSB with a 3.5mm AV connector. Assisted GPS (A-GPS) enables speed and direction tracking, photo geotagging, and voice guided navigation for Nokia’s Maps application.
Unlike Nokia’s other XpressMusic cellphones that run the less-capable Symbian Series 40 operating system, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic runs Series 60 that are used for Nokia’s high-end smartphones like the N95. It has a web browser that can display full HTML pages and comes with Flash support.
The 5800 XpressMusic phone is a strategic product to promote the upcoming “Comes with Music” service that packs a free one-year unlimited access to the Nokia Music Store. Handsets with “Comes with Music” logo can download or stream any song from the online store for free during the first year, after which users are required to switch to a paid subscription ($80 per year) to continue the service. Unlike most other subscription music models, Comes with Music allows users to keep the tracks they have downloaded even if they don’t switch to a paid subscription model. Downloaded tracks are DRM-free.
The new Media Bar in the 5800’s user interface features a drop down menu for quick access to music, favorite tracks, videos, photos, web and online sharing. The phone’s music player integrates a graphic equalizers and supports major music formats, with direct access to browse and purchase tracks from the Nokia Music Store. Users can sync the handset with a music collection on PCs through Nokia Music, the Nokia PC Suite, Nokia Ovi Suite or Windows Media Player 11. Music playlist song titles can also be shared via Bluetooth, MMS or online sharing.
Nokia said that the 5800 XpressMusic will be shipping worldwide in the fourth quarter for an estimated retail price of 279 Euros – about $385 – before taxes and subsidies.