Nokia's X-Series music phones are about to prove Huey Lewis and The News correct, settling once and for all that it is indeed hip to be square. In 2010, rectangles are out and squares are most definitely in, if Motorola, Microsoft and Nokia have any say in the matter. Between the Microsoft Kin, Moto Flipout and now the Nokia X5, square phones with slide-out keyboards are a pocket-friendly evolution of the humble slider mobile phone.
We're definitely never ones to turn our noses up at a QWERTY keyboard, and though we're curious about just how big this keyboard could possibly be, we give Nokia props for knowing what the kids want. The same goes for including both HSDPA 3G connectivity and Wi-Fi for fast web browsing, these are must-have features for a phone these days, regardless of whether it's pitched at the prepaid market.
We've criticised Nokia's Series 60 platform in recent times for feeling out of date, but we have to say that the images of the platform on the X5 look bright and fun. The new-look home screen now has a new 20-contact quick access bar, plus widgets for live apps, like the music player and email.
The X5 also comes with some reasonably good media tools, like its 5-megapixel camera with flash, and a 2GB memory card for storing music and videos.
To be brutally honest, we're not sure if we're taken with square phones just yet. From a distance all of the phones listed above look sort of silly to us, and the X5 is almost 50 per cent thicker than most new smartphones, but in the interest of constructive and objective product reviews, we'll reserve our judgement until we have an X5 in our hands.
The tiny, square form factor also leaves little room for a decent display, so users of the X5 will have to be content with a 2.3-inch QVGA display. This will be fine for everyday tasks, but those who use their phones for video viewing will be disappointed.
Its curved edges and bright colours make the X5 as cute as a button, and its square shape certainly gives the phone a unique style unlike the vast majority of new phones we see today. There's no word yet on a timeline for an Australian release, but Nokia is estimating a price tag of €165 and a third-quarter release in various markets.