The Nokia 5140i is the update to the 5140 "sports" phone the mobile giant released last year, although in terms of design, the 5140i doesn't seem to have been updated at all. The 5140i and the 5140 are essentially identical, with both featuring a rubberised outside casing to protect the phone from the bumps and shocks of an active lifestyle. Like its predecessor, the 5140i's rubber case can be slipped off to reveal the innards of the phone, something you'll need to do when first entering your battery and SIM card. All of the rubber and lining also serve to make the phone water resistant -- it'll survive an infrequent splash but don't expect to take it snorkelling with you. About the only differences between the 5140 and the new 5140i is the weight and colour availability. Some of the expanded technical specs of the 5140i have made it weigh in at 100g, as opposed to the 86g of the earlier model. The 5140i is also available in different colours -- black, orange or green.
You'll have to turn the phone on to see the biggest improvement with the 5140i. Instead of the low-res screen that graced the last model, the 5140i has a much better 65K colour display (128x128 pixel). It's still not approaching the colour resolution of the best mobiles out there, but it's certainly streets ahead of the 4K screen that was on the 5140.
The 5140i shares the sports-themed multi-function aspirations of the original. You'll find such handy applications here as a compass, built-in flashlight, stopwatch, countdown timer, thermometer and personal trainer application (which is essentially just a glorified diary of your upcoming exercise schedule). The sports motif extends to the phone's menus and themes, with several options such as cycling, slalom and trainer themes to choose from.
Of course, the 5140i is still first and foremost a phone. This tri-band GSM model has many of features you could expect from other mid-range models, such as MMS-capabilities, FM radio, MP3 ring tones and a VGA camera. It also features push to talk functionality, which can be accessed via a large button on the right hand side of the phone.
Your opinion of the Nokia 5140i will much depend on whether you're a fan of the rubberised interface of the phone. As opposed to having separate buttons, the 5140i's design means there's essentially one rubber sheet covering all the buttons. Pressing the buttons on the 5140i is a different tactile experience to most other phones, and may take some getting used to. Plus there may be times when pressing down on one button accidentally activates another -- particularly with the navigation pad underneath the screen, where we occasionally pressed the centre confirm button when trying to press up. That said, a bit of practice on the phone should sort out most concerns.
The 5140i has a long stand-by time of 150-300 hours, with a talktime of 2-5 hours. The phone certainly had a long battery life in our tests, needing only one full charge in our two weeks of testing. The built-in camera, however, was less impressive, and seemed quite prone to taking jagged shots at the slightest movement. Without any options for external memory, you'll be limited to the number of shots you can take. The 5140i only has 3.5MB of internal memory that is shared between texts, emails, calendar, pictures and more.
But those looking for a rugged phone that can take the bumps will do well to flock to the Nokia 5140i. The design of the phone is certainly able to take shocks -- we dropped the phone several times (purely for testing purposes, of course) over heights that we'd be nervous to let go of other mobiles, but the Nokia 5140i took the hits without a skip.