updated 01:10 pm EDT, Thu October 2, 2008
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
Nokia today at a special event launched the 5800 XpressMusic, the company's very first touchscreen phone and the company's only close competitior to the iPhone. The handset is primarily focused on its music but carries an extremely sharp 640x360, 3.2-inch display with haptic feedback to simulate physical button presses when touched. It also continues Nokia's emphasis on strong cameras with a 3.2-megapixel sensor, dual LED flashes and a front VGA camera for video calling on carriers that support the feature. Assisted GPS navigation, Wi-Fi and 3G data over HSDPA (including US frequencies) also put it on par in some areas with its American rival.
A 5th Edition of Symbian Series 60 adds the touch input feature but includes unique touches, including a media playback bar that remains on so that users don't have to backtrack or use a shortcut to pause music. Browsing and media editing are also easier with touch scrolling and redesigned interfaces. An accelerometer tilts the view into landscape mode on the fly.
The music emphasis also comes through in expansion: stereo speakers are built-in, and the company makes sure to include a native 3.5mm headphone jack and stereo Bluetooth. Storage is available only through removable microSDHC cards, though Nokia bundles an 8GB card in the box.
Cost is regarded as an important selling point for the 5800, according to Nokia. The handset will cost 279 Euros ($389) before carrier discounts.
The company nonetheless avoids a direct conflict with Apple. Initial shipments will be limited to parts of Asia, the Middle East and all of Russia during the fall, while Europe, the US and other areas that already carry iPhones aren't expected to receive the 5800 until the first half of 2009. The staggered release potentially exacerbates Nokia's current shortfall in smartphone sales, which the company has indirectly attributed to the iPhone 3G and other high-end competitors deliberately using heavy subsidies to undercut Nokia's historically expensive handsets.