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Hands-on with the Nokia 5320 and 5220 XpressMusic phones

We had the chance to play with Nokia's two new XpressMusic handsets, the 5320 and 5220 -- both a step in the right direction for the company up against Sony Ericsson's Walkman music phones

At a swanky meeting with Nokia yesterday, we got to play with Nokia's glossy new XpressMusic handsets, the 5320 and the 5220. Both are set to be affordable, mid-range models available from Q3 this year. During our swift fondling sessions with the phones, we formed some early opinions.

Firstly, and most importantly as far as music phones are concerned, Nokia told us it has put brand-new audio chips inside these two new models to improve sound quality over previous handsets. This is a sensible decision, as more people are turning to mobiles as their primary music players. For some inane reason, the phones were on display with headphones that can only be described as utter bullshizzle, so we couldn't judge for ourselves whether the new chips were making a real difference.

Another good move was the decision to shift the native 3.5mm headphone socket to the bottom of the handsets, as opposed to the side-mounted design seen on the N95, for example. The 5320 also has dedicated side-mounted gaming keys for use with N-Gage software, which felt very natural to use when we had a swift play. It also supports up to 8GB of microSD memory and HSDPA, but not Wi-Fi.

Both phones were easy to use, with decent keypads, good screens and ergonomic form factors, although we weren't all that keen on the 5220's asymmetrical design. The 5320 had a curious 'Say and Play' feature that lets you speak the artist or song you want to listen to, and the handset automatically plays it. To our genuine surprise, it worked when we tried it out. How this will function in real-life situations, however, remains to be seen. Our 'friends' yelling "Daphne and Celeste!" at us will get old pretty quickly.

Curiously, there was no confirmation of whether the 5320 or 5220 would support Nokia's Comes With Music service. However, both handsets are certainly a step in the right direction for Nokia, most notably because of their well-positioned headphone sockets and upgraded audio chips.

We'll have full reviews for you later this year when the phones become available. Watch this space. -Nate Lanxon

This would be the 5220. Notice its slightly asymmetrical shape and as-standard lanyard.