Editors' note: For this review, we will focus on the GPS functionality of the Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition in the Features section, since this the main differentiator between it and the XpressMusic version of the 5800. To learn more about the other features of this phone, please read our full review of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Edition.
GPS on cell phones is no longer an emerging trend. It's almost a must-have feature nowadays, and more and more handsets are offering it. However, taking advantage of GPS, and the navigation powers that come with it, usually comes at a price. If you want features, such as voice-guided directions, you often have to subscribe to a location-based service--TeleNav, for example--which require a subscription fee. That's why it was such big news when Google announced that it would offer all of this for free with Google Maps Navigation. Well it's not just Google anymore; Nokia has also entered the fray.
In late January, Nokia announced that it will offer its Ovi Maps with Navigation for free on all its GPS-enabled smartphones. The Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition is actually one of the handsets that already offered a free license to Ovi Maps with the purchase of the phone, and at a reasonable price at that: $299 unlocked. For this price, not only do you get a decent navigator, but also a solid phone and multimedia device as well. There are bumps in the road, though. The Nokia 5800 doesn't have the most intuitive user interface, and we found route recalculations to be a bit slow. Also, you don't get quite the power or functionality of the Motorola Droid. However, if your lifestyle requires you to travel frequently and you crave the freedom of an unlocked phone, the Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition is worth a look.
When it comes to design, there's very little difference between the music and navigation editions of the Nokia 5800. There's a slight variation in bezel color, but otherwise, the physical attributes are the same with the phone measuring in at 4.37 inches tall by 2.03 inches wide by 0.61 inch thick and 3.84 ounces. Though slightly on the thicker side, it's remarkably light so it won't weigh you down in your travels. The backside also features a soft-touch finish to give the phone a bit more texture and prevents it from feeling too plasticky or slick.
The sides on the handset house several controls. On the left spine, you'll find the SIM card and microSD expansion slots, both of which are protected by attached covers. The right side has a volume rocker, a lock switch, and a camera activation/capture button. There are also Talk and End keys and a main menu button just below the display, but you'll use the 5800's 3.2-inch resistive touch screen for most of your interaction with the phone.
With a 640x360-pixel resolution and support for 16 million colors, the display is satisfyingly clear and bright. The screen does wash out a bit in bright sunlight, but it's not a huge issue when mounted in the car. Instead, the challenge there is viewing maps on the smaller screen. There is a built-in accelerometer so you can rotate the phone and view maps, Web pages, photos and so forth in landscape mode, and we experienced very little lag when switching between modes.
The touch screen is responsive, but we have complaints about the user interface, just like we did with the XpressMusic version and the Nokia N97. To start, the onscreen dial pad doesn't show corresponding letters on the number keys, which makes it rather difficult if you're trying to spell a contact's name to call up from the phonebook or when you need to dial a number with letters in it (e.g., 1-866-402-CNET). Also, some menu items respond to single taps, but others require two taps; only after some use do you learn that icons only need one tap whereas list items need two. There are other annoyances like the uneven scrolling experience, all of which you can get accustomed to over time, but it's a tough pill to swallow when there are so many other more intuitive and simpler touch-screen phones out there.
Finishing out the Nokia 5800's design is Micro-USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a power connector, and a power button on top. Also, above the display, there's a small touch-sensitive XpressMusic button, which will bring up a launch bar for the phone's various multimedia options, including the music player, photo and video gallery, Web browser, and online services (e.g., Flickr, Vox, Ovi).
The Navigation Edition of the Nokia 5800 comes packaged with a USB cable, a cradle and vehicle mount, a car charger, an 8GB microSD card, a wired stereo headset, an audio adapter, a wrist strap, a software CD, and reference material. Though our review didn't come with an AC adapter, Nokia's site says one is included in the box. Also, the car mount requires a bit of assembly, so have a Phillips screwdriver nearby. The cradle itself securely holds the phone in place, but the suction cup mount only works for the windshield, which is fine for most people, but still, we wish there was a dashboard option. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Recently, Nokia announced that it will offer Ovi Maps with Navigation for free on all its GPS-enabled smartphones. Previously, you had to pay monthly or yearly license fee to get voice-guided navigation as well as premium content, but now it's all gratis. In the case of the Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition, this isn't quite as big of a deal since Nokia already included a free license to the software with the purchase of the phone, but it's still good news nonetheless.
Ovi Maps provides several advantages over its competitors. You can view maps even if you don't have a data connection. Maps are downloaded to device, so you can continue to use it even if you're offline. In addition, Nokia uses a hybrid vectorizing mapping technology that allows for quicker map redraws and the ability to zoom in/out with very little delay. Google Maps, on the other hand, requires that a new map be downloaded every time you want to zoom, thus taking up more bandwidth and time. Another plus: you can use Ovi Maps in 74 different countries and in 46 languages.