Nokia 5130 XpressMusic review: Nokia 5130 XpressMusic

Nokia 5130 XpressMusic

Kent German

Kent German

Senior Managing Editor / Features

Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

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In the world of Nokia Xpress Music phones, we've seen a full range of models, from the high-end to the rather weird. T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier to have offered Xpress Music phones. It started in 2006 with the 5300 and followed up two years later with the 5310 and 5610. Now the carrier offers a budget alternative, the Nokia 5130. Simple in both form and function, the 5130 is the lowest-end of all Xpress Music phones we've reviewed. The candy bar phone offers the normal music functions, but it goes easy on other features. Service is respectable, and the price--$29.99 with a rebate and a two-year service contract--is affordable.


Nokia 5130 XpressMusic

The Good

The Nokia 5130 Xpress Music has a simple design, functional features, and generally satisfying audio quality.

The Bad

The Nokia 5130 Xpress Music's display isn't the sharpest, and its keypad buttons have a cheap feel. Audio quality is distorted at the highest levels.

The Bottom Line

Despite some minor complaints, the Nokia 5130 Xpress Music is an ideal choice for a budget music phone.

The 5130 Xpress Music somewhat resembles the earlier 5310. It also sports a slim candy bar design, though it's bit larger (4.23 inches by 1.83 inches by 0.58 inch; 3.10 ounces) and it features a glossier skin with a dotted pattern over its speaker on the rear side. The handset comes in two color schemes--aqua/silver and red/black. We tested the former, but the features are the same on both models. The 5130 has a comfortable feeling in the hand, and it travels well.

The 5130's two-inch display supports 256,000 colors. The resolution is decent (320x240 pixel), though some graphics, particularly the menu icons, weren't very sharp. On the upside, the Series 40 menus are intuitive, provided that you turn off the transition effects. You can adjust the standby font color and the font size.

The navigation array has a spacious, easy-to-use design. The square toggle is raised and shows a different color than the central OK button or the surrounding keys. The soft keys and Talk and End/power controls are flat, but they're quite large. You can set the toggle as a shortcut to user-defined features. The backlit keypad buttons are a mixed bag. Though they're sizable, they have a slippery, plastic feel. Dialing and texting takes some getting used to, and the numbers and letters are rather small.

On the rear side is the camera lens. The 5130 offers neither a flash nor a self-portrait mirror. On the left spine are the dedicated music controls, which you can use to activate the player and scan through your songs. On the right spine you'll find the large, accessible volume rocker and the microSD card slot. We were glad see a 3.5 millimeter headset jack on the top of the 5130. Next to it are the proprietary charger connection and the Micro-USB port.

The 5130's phone book size is limited by its shared memory (30MB). Each contact holds six phone number types, an e-mail address, a URL, a company name and job title, a formal name and nickname, a birthday, and notes. The SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. You can organize friends into groups and pair them with a video/photo and one of 23 polyphonic ringtones.

Essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a to-do list, a unit and currency converter, a world clock, a notepad, a calculator, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. As for more advanced options, you'll find stereo Bluetooth, a voice recorder, USB transfer and mass storage, voice commands, PC syncing, instant messaging, and Web-based e-mail. The microSD slot can accommodate cards up to 2GB.

The 5130 offers the standard Nokia Xpress Music player. The interface is simple, but the controls are simple and intuitive, and the player supports album art. Features include an equalizer, shuffle and repeats modes, playlists, stereo widening, and an airplane mode for listening to tunes while you fly. The player supports a variety of file types, and you can use tracks as ringtones.

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 lacks a flash or self-portrait mirror.

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.

The 5130 offers good, but not great photo quality.

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.


Nokia 5130 XpressMusic

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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