For all its hype, the 5800's music player is comparable with most Nokia N-series models. The interface is simple and it offers album art, but it's not particularly flashy. Settings are plentiful, however. You can adjust the balance, use a bass booster, activate stereo widening, and select one of five equalizer settings. Other options include playlists, an airplane mode, and shuffle and repeat modes. What's more, the 5800 offers an FM radio and support for podcasts. Getting music on the 5800 is an easy process. We plugged it into our PC using the USB cable and synced our tunes using Windows Media Player. You also can choose USB transfer mode and simply drag and drop files using Windows Explorer. In both cases our computer recognized our phone instantly. Nokia should include software with the final production version, though we didn't get a copy with our advance model. Depending on your region, you'll also be able to buy tracks from the Nokia Music Sore. It's not available in the United States yet, so we couldn't give it a test run.
The 5800 offers a full HTML Web browser. The interface is pretty straightforward, though it's not immediately clear what some of the onscreen buttons do. Also, while we like the pop-up sub-menus, scrolling through them can be tricky unless you know exactly where to place your finger. You'll find a great set of options beyond the aforementioned Wi-Fi. You can search for keywords on a page, view photos by themselves, access an RSS feed, save bookmarks and keep open multiple Web pages simultaneously. The browser doesn't support Flash, but that's not unusual. Like other iPhone competitors, the 5800's overall browser experience can't quite measure up to Apple's device. While moving around a large page isn't quite as jerky as on some other phones, the motion still isn't as smooth as on the iPhone. Also without any kind of multitouch functionality, you must use a zoom button to get a closer look on a page. Alternatively, you can move around a site by getting a full-page view and then selecting the area you want to see. While that's not a bad option, it's just not the same as pinching your fingers or tapping the screen to zoom in. The beauty of the iPhone browser is one area where Apple scored a home run.
The 5800's 3.2-megapixel camera offers a Carl Zeiss lens that takes pictures in three resolutions. In a nifty twist, the settings menu explains the maximum printing size for each resolution and it tells you how many photos you can take using each choice. Other settings include four shutter tones, auto-focus, a 3x digital zoom, six scene settings (such as "night" and "macro"), a self-timer, and gridlines. You also can adjust the white balance, the ISO, the exposure setting, the color tones, the contrast, and the sharpness. The bright flash has four settings: automatic, red-eye reduction, always on, and off.
The camcorder shoots clips in five quality modes. As with the still camera, the settings menu will tell you the ideal use for each setting and the available recording time. Other options include a night mode and an adjustable white balance and color tone. You can use the flash as a steady light and you can mute the sound.
Photo quality was quite good--colors were sharp and there was little image noise. Video quality was just OK, but better than on other 3.2-megapixel shooters we've seen. You can run videos out to a TV or monitor using the included video-out cable. The 5800 offers basic photo-editing features. Given the healthy 81MB of internal memory, you have a decent amount of space for storing your work, but you can use a microSD cards up to 8GB.
You can personalize the 5800 with a selection of display themes, alert tones, and profiles. You can download more options, and additional ringtones, from Nokia using the Web browser. The handset also comes with a few additional applications. There's a settings wizard, a menu for accessory setup, a shortcut to your "My Nokia" online account, an app for syncing contacts and calendar with other Nokia devices, RealPlayer support, and two games (Bounce and Global Race Racing Thunder). The latter uses the accelerometer to drive your car. It takes a few minutes to get the hang of the gameplay, but it's fun.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Nokia 5800 Xpress Music world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was strong on the whole. We enjoyed clear conversations with little static or interference. Voices sounded natural, and the volume was loud. Our only complaint was that at the highest volume levels, the audio had an echoed effect.
On their end, callers said we sounded great. Most could tell we were using a cell phone, but some of our friends had no idea. The only complaints, and they were few, were that the 5800 picks up some background noise. But that said, we were able to use a voice-automated system when we were outside.
Speakerphone calls weren't quite as good, unfortunately. On our end, we had to turn up the volume pretty loud if we wanted to hear. And on their end, callers had trouble hearing us unless were in a quiet room and we talked very close to the phone. Using an automated-calling system with the speakerphone was almost impossible. Bluetooth headset calls were better, with about the same quality as regular voice calls.
Also good news, the North American version of the 5800 offers 3G support. The phone supports the 850/1900MHz bands, which you'll be able to get 3.5G HSDPA speeds using AT&T's network but unfortunately, not with T-Mobile since its 3G network runs on the 1700/2100MHz bands. The Web browsing speeds were OK, though AT&T's network would switch from 3.5G to EDGE on and off. It took about 40 seconds for CNET's page to full load, while ESPN came up in about 45 seconds.
Music quality was satisfying. The sound was comparable to other Nokia Xpress Music phones. Our tracks had warmth and they didn't sound overly tinny or bass-heavy. The external speakers had a decent output and, unlike on voice calls, the sound wasn't distorted at the highest levels. As with most music phones, using a headset will provide the best experience. The included headset does a decent job, but you can use your own headset, thanks to the 3.5mm jack.
The 5800 has a rated battery life of 8.8 hours talk time in GSM and 5 hours when using 3G. Promised standby battery life is 16.75 days in GSM and 16.7 days in 3G. The handset offers 3.4 hours of Web browsing, three hours of video calling, up to 5.2 hours of video playback, 1.5 days of music playback and 5.6 hours of video gameplay. We were able to get 8 hours and 15 minutes of talk time in our battery drain tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic has a digital SAR rating of 0.97 watt per kilogram.