While LG and Samsung were quick to play their touch-screen phone cards after the release of the first iPhone, Nokia has been holding its hand close. That is, until now. On Thursday, the Finnish company announced the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music, an eye-catching slim touch-screen phone that looks vaguely like you-know-what. Though Nokia is quick to dismiss the iPhone comparisons, they are obvious, and analysts across the board are making them.
See our Nokia 5800 Xpress Music slide show for a full gallery of shots.
On the outside there's an expansive (3.2 inches) touch screen with tactile feedback that serves as the primary interface tool. There are also three physical buttons--Talk and End keys and a menu control--but this device is all about getting touchy-feely. The outside is mostly black but you'll be able to exercise a bit of personal style by choosing from three versions--each has a thin colored ring in either gray, red, or blue. At 4.31 by 2.04 by 0.61 inches and 3.85 ounces, the 5800 Xpress Music falls between the iPhone and the LG Dare in size and weight. Exterior controls include a volume rocker, a dedicated power button, and a camera shutter.
Features are more like the Dare than the iPhone. Inside you'll find a 3.2-megapixel camera with video recording and a Carl Zeiss lens, messaging, stereo Bluetooth, a microSD card slot, 81MB of internal memory, USB mass storage, personal organizer apps, a speakerphone, a 3.5mm headset jack, assisted GPS, a music player, and PC syncing. It's also a full world phone with support for four GSM bands and two HSDPA bands. On the whole, that's a loaded feature set.
Getting music on the 5800 Xpress Music should be easy. Besides the traditional methods of syncing with a PC (via Windows Media Player 11) or transferring songs via Bluetooth or a memory card, you'll also be able to access songs over the air from Nokia's music store using the company's new Comes With Music service.
We haven't had the opportunity to hold the 5800 in our hands just yet but from what we can tell the Series 60, 5th edition interface is attractive and easy to use. The main menu uses a series of icons, while the music player features album art. An accelerometer will rotate the display from portrait to landscape mode automatically; in landscape mode there's a full QWERTY keyboard. The 5800 also will have a "Contacts Bar" that will highlight your four favorite friends on the home screen. With one touch you'll be able to access a history of text messages, phone calls, e-mails, and photos.
The 5800 comes with a stylus and a secondary tool that looks like a guitar pick. Nokia says the latter tool is designed for use with the music player. You'll get a wired headset in the box as well, but Bluetooth can use one of the new headsets that the company also introduced Thursday. In press photos Nokia also showed the 5800 resting on a stand; we hope that's included as well.
The 5800 Xpress Music should land in Europe and Asia in the last quarter of this year. As usual, North America will have to wait. When it does land in the United States and Canada, it will sell as an unlocked model only. Nokia wouldn't say if it was negotiating with a U.S. carrier but let's hope that happens. The price at the time of this posting should be close to $391 (279 euros). That could change closer to the release time, however.