Nokia 5230 Review

Abdullah Saad
Posted Feb 13, 2010
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It was not long ago, touch screen cell phones were very rare and expensive. Within a very short time frame, touch screen devices have appeared and appealed to the masses. Now, in order to dominate the non-touch massive market, these touch devices need to offer features and come with affordable price tags as well. Nokia has been very busy with its 5000 series. Today, we will be looking at the Nokia 5230. Nokia 5230 is a smartphone aiming high on features and yet does not mind being placed in a cheap category.

 

There are a number of smartphone with different combination of features in the 5000 series. The 5230 has its own traits.

Key features:

  • 3.2″ 16M-color TFT LCD 16:9 touchscreen display (360 x 640 pixels)
  • Symbian S60 5th edition
  • ARM 11 434 MHz CPU, 128MB RAM memory
  • Quad-band GSM support
  • 3G with HSDPA 3.6Mbps support
  • Built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS support; Ovi maps
  • 2 megapixel fixed focus camera with and VGA@30fps video
  • microSD card memory expansion
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Bluetooth with A2DP and USB v2.0
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer sensor for automatic UI rotation, motion-based gaming and turn-to-mute
  • Ovi integration (direct image and video uploads, Ovi Contacts)
  • Landscape on-screen virtual QWERTY keyboard
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Price tag on the cheap side
  • Changeable color battery covers
  • Plectrum dongle available in the retail package

Main disadvantages:

  • No Wi-Fi support
  • Display has poor sunlight legibility
  • Default font size is a bit small due to the smallish but high-res screen
  • 3rd party software is still somewhat limited
  • Extremely limited camera
  • Doesn’t charge off its microUSB port
  • No smart dialing
  • No DivX/XviD video support out of the box
  • No TV-out functionality
  • No data-cable or memory card in retail package
  • No office document viewer
  • Below par speaker volume

The Nokia 5230 lacks Wi-Fi and if you desire Wi-Fi, you can go for the Nokia 5530. However, the 5530 lack 3G and GPS. Weird. If you want 3G, Wi-Fi, and GPS, go buy the premium Nokia 5800. They all look that same but there are features that cause so many variations. There is no way to create a custom smartphone so just like what AMD and Nvidia does to their GFX range, Nokia does to any new phone they launch: Create several models with a shuffling of features and a wide range of price tags.

Package

Un-boxing is so much fun… when you are un-boxing a 5800 XpressMusic or something similar. Un-boxing the Nokia 5230 was rather a disappointing experience but then again, I was not expecting much from a cheaper phone.

Packed

Unpacked

Included:

  • Nokia 5230
  • Nokia High Efficiency Charger (AC-8)
  • Nokia Battery (Bl-5J)
  • Nokia Stereo Headset (WH-102)
  • Plectrum Stylus CP-306
  • User guide

Not included:

  • Data Cable
  • Memory card

Now, a touch screen device with advance features such as GPS and it does not come with a data cable. Moreover, since it does not come with a memory card, you have only 70MB of internal memory to play with. It does come with a plectrum and a basic headphone.

Design

The Nokia 5230 dimensions are 111 by 51.7 by 15.5 mm, 83 cc of volume. Now, this makes the 5230 larger than the 5530 but since 5230 has a bigger screen, it makes sense. However, the 5230 has no Wi-Fi and a lower camera MegaPixel but it is larger and heavier than the 5800!

Nokia 5230

At first glance, there is no serious design uniqueness between the 5230, 5530, and the 5800. Even after close examination, there really is no noteworthy similarity. The design is quite the same.

As mentioned before, the 5230 has a larger screen compared to 5530. A 3.2” screen against the 2.9” screen of the 5530 is attractive. In addition, it is a resistive screen so anything can cause a touch. The sensitivity is a bit better than that of the 5800 but still, Nokia need to do a lot of work on the resistive screens they currently have. The haptic feedbacks from the smartphone upon touching the screen are very nice. I really liked the ones from the 5800 but it occasionally missed. The 5230 has the perfect haptic timing and intensity. Just like a majority of screens, direct sunlight renders it un-readable. You may find the 5230 useless in the great outdoors, as you cannot possibly see anything on the screen.

After the screen, we proceed to the upper front face of the device and find the earpiece, a touch-sensitive Media key, and a couple of sensors. The Media key brings a neat drop down menu of shortcuts to media and web. The two sensors above detect ambient light and proximity. The proximity sensor turns off touchscreen when we bring the 5230 close to the ear. This prevents accidental presses during calls.

Front Top

Towards the bottom, there are the three famous keys: Call button, End button, and the menu button.

Front Bottom

The top side is similar to the 5800: power key, the microUSB port, charger plug, and 3.5mm standard audio jack. Now, the charging pin and microUSB are both provided but you do not always have the luxury of an AC outlet everywhere. This is where 5230 fails again: you cannot charge through the microUSB. So even if connected to the laptop/Desktop, the battery will still drain in vein.

Top

To the right, we have the Camera Button, the Screen Lock toggle, and the volume rocker. The 2MP camera is just descent and that is about it. The screen Lock toggle is easy to reach and switch. It is probably the most used slide-button on this phone and does feel sturdy to take the heat. It has its own haptic response, which is a very nice touch. The volume rocker is hard and very finger unfriendly. It is so flat that it almost blends into the right side. This issue is with 5800 also.

Right Side

Volume Rocker Screen Lock Camera Button

The bottom and the left sides are very simple. You will find the microphone and the stylus holder. Yes, there is a stylus holder and a stylus in the 5230 that I am reviewing. You will find two plastic covers on the left side: one for the microSD slot and one for the SIM Card compartment. You will also spot the speaker grill on the left.

Left Side

Towards the back, we find a simple 2MP flash-less camera and the stylus.

2MP Camera

Stylus Out

Going deeper, we find that Nokia 5230 runs on a BL-5J battery. I am very pleased with the battery timings and I can say you do not need to worry. However, not being able to charge from the microUSB is still unjustified.

Backside open

Touch UI

The 5800 came out earlier and it came with many faults in its old UI. The 5230’s OS is more like the 5530 and has a very good response and feel. Although the 5800 is also improved through massive firmware upgrade, the 5230 UI can easily pose a challenge to the great 5800.

The look and feel is purely that of Symbian60. The Menu is that same 3×4 grid (or list). A new Home screen is a direct result of the new touch screen. Due to a very sensitive accelerometer, screen orientation can be set to change automatically.

The new home screen is very finger friendly and can be operated with a thumb only. There are bands running across the screen. The first on is the status icons. Pressing the clock brings up the clock application with the ability to setup alarms. Taping the date will allow you to go to the calendar or switch profiles. The next band is for contacts. This is a very nice touch in fact; the contacts band is extremely useful. Taping a contact opens a detailed screen with picture and default number along with all call and messaging history. You can also subscribe to the contact’s RSS feed and have it displayed too!

The next band is the Active standby for emails and messages, if you have any awaiting reading. The blank area beneath is reserved for the music player and radio mini applications. You can choose either displayed when set to play in the background. At the very bottom of the home screen is the Shortcuts bar.

The Nokia 5230 is a decent smartphone but there are some letdowns to consider. Calling is all-OK: Voices is crystal and the receiver has no complaints but dialing can be a pain: no smart dialer still!

Although the 5230 is labeled as XpressMusic, the built-in loud speaker is a serious joke. You simply cannot hear anything from it if here is a small noise around. Messaging and Emailing is very nice and feels like home for frequent Symbian users.

The input method on the Nokia 5230 is very welcomed. While held portrait, a standard alphanumeric keypad appears but when tilted into landscape, a full QWERTY keyboard appears and is very finger friendly. The Nokia 5230 has a very powerful handwriting input method as well and it impressed me a lot.

The image gallery is a bit slow when loading a new picture and scrolling and zooming work very well once loaded. Tilting sides immediately updates the UI with almost no wait time. The beautiful 3.2” screen makes us wonder how good the videos may look but unfortunately, you’ll have to convert every video on your PC to have it play properly on the 5230 as it have no support for DivX or XviD.

Except Wi-Fi, the 5230 has it all. The web browser has been improved and can be further improved. The kinetic scrolling feels stiff and requires many swipes for even small pages resulting in accidental click. There are neat features like five different font sizes to choose from, password manager, auto-form filler, and a descent RSS reader.

The rest of applications (a huge lot) are same-old Symbian with minor touch improvements. There is no document viewer and since this happens to be labeled a smartphone, Nokia cannot be forgiven… again.

The 5230 has the same onboard GPS as the 5800 and it is very sensitive and does not fail to show off its capability. The 5230 has Ovi Maps pre-installed and it has no use in Pakistan at the movement.

Camera Testing

Backside open Backside open Backside open Backside open

Final words

The 5800 XpressMusic comes heavily recommended as it is loaded with just about everything. Of course, the price of a 5800 will matter a lot to buyers under budget. Launching the 5230 and 5530, Nokia has created an opportunity for user willing to own probably the best Nokia smartphones to date. Nokia 5230 is the cheapest of the S60 touchscreen phones and deciding between the 5230 and 5530 requires decision-making. If you have plentiful Wi-Fi, wherever you go, the 5530 comes recommended. You will lose 3G and GPS but you will have a 3.15MP camera with LED Flash, stereo speakers, and a 4GB memory card. Personally, losing GPS is a very big letdown for me. I have a data plan and I will definitely go for 5230 if not the 5800.

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