Nokia 5500 Sport review: Nokia 5500 Sport

Nokia's 5500 Sport is geared towards sports fanatics with a water, shock and sweat-resistant design, a pedometer to measure your fitness, an MP3 player, an FM radio, a belt to carry it around your waist and a talking text feature. It probably won't have enough high-tech features to satisfy serious trainers, but for the casual jogger it's a useful gadget

Sandra Vogel

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5 min read

Nokia's 5500 Sport might seem like a real oddity if you are not the sporty type. It has facilities for monitoring your sporting activity and you can even download some software for your PC that lets you analyse data gathered by the phone.


Nokia 5500 Sport

The Good

Small and ergonomic to use; seriously shockproof; tap control for music playback and reading out SMS messages.

The Bad

Pedometer is not an accurate measurer of distance travelled; awkward to wear on belt while running; needs a separate GPS antenna for best accuracy; not enough internal memory.

The Bottom Line

A phone that can be your training buddy sounds like a great idea, and provided you don't want to break any records the Nokia 5500 Sport could be handy. But if you get serious about your training, you'll benefit from using far more sophisticated kit than this

If you are a heavy-duty sports enthusiast you'll definitely need to add a GPS unit if you want the 5500 Sport to track distance travelled during sporting activities properly, and even then the 5500 Sport might not meet your needs as it lacks things like a heart rate monitor, which would benefit those in serious training.

For the mildly energetic, however, this phone could be a good starting point, allowing you to trade up to more expensive and sophisticated kit at a later date.

The Nokia 5500 Sport is a small and tidy handset aimed at those who want to record and monitor their exercise but don't fancy the idea of buying additional kit to do so.

To that end the handset is clad in a casing which makes it water, shock and dust resistant (we don't suggest you go swimming while wearing it, but it should withstand the perspiration generated by activities like jogging).

The front part of the casing is made largely of rubber and the keys are built into this rather than being separate, presumably to keep dust as well as sweat out of the handset's innards. The Call and End keys are not separate buttons, but are built into the styling of the phone -- they look like small raised design features beneath each of the softmenu buttons.

There is more rubber along with metal around the edges of the casing. The back is tough plastic with yet more metal on the battery cover. We suppose the weird battery cover is part of the anti-dust protection, but it is a pain to get on and off because you need a coin or small screwdriver to manage the lock -- not any coin will do, we found anything thicker than a 5p piece was simply too thick to turn the lock.

The screen is tiny at just 30mm square. For some purposes it is fine, and the software that's dedicated to sports uses large fonts so the screen size is not a problem at all, but if you want to do things like browse the Web or use relatively complex third-party applications, you might find it too small.

On the basis that you are going to want music while you exercise, there's a button on the upper-right edge of the casing that switches between the built-in music player, the training software and the handset's today screen. A rather nice touch is that the wallpaper and navigation pad backlight change colour as you switch between these three modes.

For this handset to work as a sports tool you need to use the provided belt clip and carry the Nokia 5500 around your waist. We found detaching it to make and answer voice calls a bind, preferring a pocket as the storage place for our phone.

The software on the handset is preset for several activities: walking, running, cycling, rowing and stair stepping. Once you've told it your age, weight and height -- so that it can work out calories burned and so its built-in pedometer can use an average measurement for stride distance -- you can start to exercise. You can't calibrate it directly, but if your stride is unusually long or short, you might be able to fine-tune it by lying about your height.

There is software on the phone that can generate fitness programmes based on your preferred activity and goals, though if you want to get realistic goals and achievable targets, you'd probably benefit from talking to someone who knows more about your ambitions and can gauge your capabilities.

If you are one of those people who simply has to be in touch with the world at all times via text, then you'll love the way you can have the phone read out incoming messages if you tap the handset in the right part of its front fascia. You need to do this within 30 seconds of receiving a message. You can also use the tapping system for music control, pausing and resuming playback and skipping tracks.

The provided headset has a large music playback control area and it can be clipped onto your clothing using a sturdy clip. While its connector to the Nokia 5500 Sport is proprietary, it has a 3.5mm jack out so you can use a headset you like.

You might not guess it at first, but the tri-band Nokia 5500 Sport is a fully fledged smart phone. It runs Symbian S60 3rd edition, which is capable of synchronising calendar and contacts with your PC, and you get the connectivity cable you need for that job included with the phone, though you'll have to download the PC Suite software from the Web.

There's also an FM radio, which complements the built-in MP3 player, and a 2-megapixel camera, which takes competent, if not wonderful, pictures. The camera lacks a self-portrait mirror or a flash, but the phone does have a rather good torch, with twin LED lights on the top edge of the handset.

With only 8MB of built-in memory, you're going to need microSD cards if you want to use the music player to listen to tunes while you exercise -- our review model came with a 64MB card, which isn't exactly generous. There's also a Music Edition of this handset, which comes with a 512MB card, or you could simply buy a card yourself.

The memory card slot lies under the battery, so you need to power the 5500 Sport down to get at it, and fiddle with the awkward lock to remove the battery cover.

Voice calls were of good quality, and our only real niggle in everyday use was with the screen size.

The pedometer is never going to give you the kind of accuracy for distance measurement that a GPS antenna will, and the further you travel the less accurate its readings will be -- unless your stride is dead on average, of course.

The battery gave us 6 hours, 45 minutes of continuous music playback with the screen forced on. Nokia quotes 2 to 4 hours of talktime and 150 to 270 hours of standby time, and in day-to-day use the battery life seemed fine. If you're building up to a marathon, however, and want music playback throughout your training sessions, you may need to charge it every day or two.

If you are just getting into the fitness game this could be a handy little tool with which to start working on a schedule and getting some measurements to monitor progress -- just be prepared to graduate to something more sophisticated as your fitness levels rise and your ambitions develop.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield