I refuse to brand any phone as an "iPhone killer" - but look at this. Nokia has brought out its first touchscreen phone, a device with no hard keys, focussed on the web and music. I think we can see the intention here, yes?
After a day or two playing with the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, I have to say that it won't displace the iPhone from the pockets of Stephen Fry or anyone else delighted by the persona of the Apple phone. It's just not that sort of complete consumer experience. But it does have a lot going for it.
The first thing you notice is the lovely bright, large screen. The sound reproduction is also great, with big speakers somewhere in the back. The first time it rang, I laughed out loud at a crisp, acoustic guitar rendition of the classic Nokia ring tone - this may be standard for the XpressMusic series, but it struck me as witty.
The touchscreen doesn't do "multi-touch" - touching in multiple places so you can pinch and slide things, as on the iPhone. That's because it's a "resistive" touchscreen, not a capacitive one with co-ordinates. The upside is it works with a stylus, and can do handwriting recognition. Multi-touch has been a success, but Nokia reckons more people elksewhere in the world will prefer handwriting recognition.
Given the necessity for a stylus, Nokia has made a bid to be "cool" by including a plectrum. An actual clear red plastic, guitar-picking plectrum. On a wrist-strap. I'm not sure how the gadget crowd will react to that, but I suspect a phone plectrum is so anti-cool it's actually credible.
Style aside, here are some things I like a lot:
1. Haptic feedback. I partly like this just for the sound of the name, and I find the little throbs sometimes a bit irritating when doing things I'm well used to doing without feedback. But haptics is the future, and there are applications where it actually helps (not just the included driving game.
2. GPS. Ditto. Around my house, it's not done well at picking up satellites but all phones should have GPS in them.
3. Side-mounted SIM and storage. Nokia used to not get putting the SD card where you can get it. Now, it's gone a step further and put the SIM in an accessible slot. Both slots have good solid covers that click nicely into place.And the standard memory card seems to be 8G.
4. Standard 3.5mm headphone jacks. We can use any headphones we like. Good move. Shame the USB connector is a new one on me, but it's probably just one of the more obscure "standard" plugs.
5. Decent camera. It's only 3.2Mpixels, which is a bit lame, but it does have autofocus and a bright flash (and therefore, prsumably, the phone can be a torch, if you can fight your way through the Nokia menu crap).
6. Second camera for video calls. Never use it, but it should be there.
7. Great FM radio reception.
It's not going to be available in the UK till after Christmas, as operators want to tweak it properly (which may improve the usability). And the price will probably be substantially below that of the iPhone.
It's not work-friendly enough for most Techworld readers, but at least shows that Nokia knows what it's doing with touchscreens, and has plenty of potential.
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