Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Nokia 5610 XpressMusic
- Good music functionality, microSD slot, 3G coverage, Bluetooth functionality
- Poorly designed back panel
The Nokia 5610 is a well designed music-orientated phone. While it fails to excel in any one area, it offers a solid performance across the board. As such, it will satisfy as both an MP3 player and mobile phone.
Price$ 569.00 (AUD)
The portable music player is the must-own gadget of the 21st Century; arguably rivalling the mobile phone with its widespread popularity. It therefore stands to reason that so many vendors attempt to combine the two, with a legion of music-centric handsets jostling for space in the market. The Nokia 5610 XpressMusic is a relatively affordable entry into this overcrowded subgenre, with enough interesting features to appeal to most types of users. While it certainly isn't the best mobile phone of its ilk (a distinction held by Sony Ericsson's Walkman range), it remains a capable performer nonetheless.
The 5610 shares much in common with Nokia's previous music phone, the 5310. Both units sport the same basic interface and MP3 player, though the 5610 has been decked out with a host of additional extras. These include 3G coverage (the 5310 was GSM-only), a 3.2-megapixel camera, a video player and recorder, plus a new sliding form factor (replacing the previous model's candy bar shape). There is no question over which is the superior product, though naturally, all these extra bells and whistles come at a higher price.
The 5610 is a handsomely constructed device, with wide, plastic keys protected by a robust slider. Although build quality is mostly solid, we were disappointed with the removable back panel, which is alarmingly flimsy and difficult to slot back into place. While we were obviously unable to test its durability, it seems like something that could easily be bent out of shape or broken in two. Heavy-handed individuals will therefore need to adopt a little finesse when inserting their battery or SIM card.
Being aimed squarely at music lovers, the Nokia 5610 lives or dies based on the strength of its MP3 player. Thankfully, the interface is both versatile and user-friendly, with a dedicated slider key for launching the player. Settings include shuffle and repeat play modes, stereo widening, preset and adjustable equaliser settings, and up to 22 hours of music playback. MP3, MP4, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB and WMA file formats are all supported. The 5610 comes equipped with a 2.5mm headphone jack, with a 3.5mm jack adapter included in the sales package. As one would expect, the inbuilt speaker is a little on the tinny side for music playback, though it does blast out a respectable amount of noise; allowing you to infuriate your fellow commuters on public transport.
It's sometimes easy to overlook in today's day and age, but the Nokia 5610 XpressMusic also needs to be judged as a mobile phone (this is its primary purpose after all). We found call quality to be more than adequate, while volume levels are loud enough to hold conversations in loud environments. The handsfree speakerphone also works quite well. All up, a solid effort.
The inbuilt 3.2-megapixel camera does a respectable job of taking happy snaps, but results are far from outstanding. The flash works reasonably well for night-time photography, while the camera also doubles as a video recorder, with a resolution of up to 480x320 pixels. While a little overly reflective for our tastes, the 2.2in screen does a fair job of displaying your assorted media, with most images looking sharp and vibrant.
The Nokia 5610 comes equipped with 20MB of on-board memory, as well as a microSD slot for an additional memory boost of up to 4GB. Other goodies include a WAP Web browser, Bluetooth functionality, a voice recorder and speakerphone, an FM radio, plus the standard suite of PIM functions (consisting of an alarm, calendar, contacts list, calculator, and clock).
Nokia rate the 5610 XpressMusic at up to six hours of talk time on a standard GSM network and 13 days of standby time. This is a reasonable outcome that should see you charging your phone every few days.
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