You can transfer music onto the phone via a USB cable or a microSD card. When using the former method, your computer should recognize the phone immediately; you then can drag and drop music back and forth. When listening to tracks, you can minimize the player so you can access other functions, and the player automatically pauses when you receive a call. If radio is your thing, the 5130 also offers an FM tuner with station presets.
The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in six resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 160x120. Other editing options are standard. You'll find three quality settings, three white balance choices, a self-timer, portrait and landscape modes, five color effects, four light sensitivity modes, and a 4x zoom. The camcorder shoots clips in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96) and offers editing options similar to the still camera. Clips for multimedia messages are capped at 38 seconds, or you can shoot for longer in standard mode. Photo quality is decent--there was little image noise, but colors were washed out. Video looks just average on the display.
You can personalize the 5130 with a variety of display themes, screensavers, wallpaper, light effects, and alert tones. You can download more customization options and additional ringtones from T-Mobile's t-zones service over the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The handset comes with demo versions of five games: Diner Dash 2, Bejeweled, Midnight Pool 2, Pac-Man/Ms. Pac/Man, and 5th Grader 2009.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE) Nokia 5130 Xpress Music in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was quite good. The signal was strong and clear, the audio was free of static and interference, and callers sounded natural. Volume gets sufficiently loud, though audio is distorted with an echo sound at the highest levels. Fortunately, we didn't need to turn up the sound very often, but when we did, our call quality was slightly diminished.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine most of the time. They could understand us clearly except when we were calling from a very noisy place. During those times, we had to speak loudly and repeat ourselves. Speakerphone calls were fine clarity-wise, though the volume was rather low. We had to be very close to the phone in order to hear our friends and have them hear us in return.
The 5130's music quality is decent, though lacking in warmth. More importantly, the sole external speaker doesn't have the best output. Our tunes sounded best at lower volume levels, even if we could hardly hear them. When we turned the volume up louder, however, the audio became bass-heavy. Headphones will offer the best experience.
The 5130 has a rated battery life of six hours talk time and 12 days standby time. The promised multimedia battery life varies as follows: 4 hours of video playback time, 1 hour of video recording time, and 20 hours of music playback time. We received a talk time of 7 hours and 2 minutes in our tests. The 5130 has a digital SAR of 0.88 watts per kilogram.