It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the Nokia 5300 Xpress Music. In fact, I loved it so much when I reviewed it last year that I gave it a CNET Editors' Choice award. So you can imagine I was a bit excited when the new Nokia 5700 Xpress Music landed on my desk. As the update to the 5300, the 5700 offers everything found on its predecessor but with a new twist (literally).
At first you might think the overall design hasn't changed much, but the 5700 offers a twisting base like that on the Nokia 3250. As with the 3250, the 5700's keypad, camera lens, and dedicated music controls are located on different sides of the twisting base. When the keypad faces forward you can make calls as normal, but by rotating the base 90 degrees, the camera starts instantly. And by turning it an additional 90 degrees, you can activate the music player. Though I like such an arrangement, I could see why other users might not be so keen. And I admit that I would worry about the turning mechanism getting too loose over time.
I'm not in love with the black color scheme, but the 5700 is available in red and gray as well. The five-way joystick was a little tricky to use, particularly in the "up" direction, as I kept selecting things by accident rather than moving the cursor. Yet I like that the MicroSD card slot, the charger jack, and the mini-USB port are easily accessible on the right spine. They're covered by a rubber flap for protection.
Fortunately, you get more memory on the 5700 (128MB of flash storage compared with a measly 5MB on the 5300), and the camera is upped to 2 megapixels. Other features include Bluetooth, a speakerphone, voice commands, messaging and e-mail, and an infrared port. The microSD card slot can accommodate 2GB cards (that's about 1,500 tracks), and you can listen to your tunes via stereo Bluetooth or connect your own wired headphones to the included 3.5mm adapter plug. Supported formats include WMA, MP3, AAC, AAC+, and MP4 files, and though you can't purchase music over the air, you can connect the phone to a PC and transfer files. The optimized music player features album art, playlists, an equalizer, and audio visualizations.
Stay tuned for a full review next week, but I can safely say I like what I see so far. Though it's a GSM quad-band world phone, the 5700 is optimized for the European 3G networks since it uses the 2100 WCDMA band (the United States uses the 1900 WCDMA band). That makes a U.S. carrier unlikely, though I'm trying to remain hopeful it lands in the States in some form. Then again, I don't want to see it come here and lose its world phone capability as the 5300 did when T-Mobile picked it up.