Design and Looks
The design of the 5220 Xpress Music is very unique; the bar does not assume a perfect rectangular shape but sports something akin to a parallelogram with tilted top and bottom edges. The design is pleasing to some but repulsive to others, either way, it's sure to turn heads. The build of the phone is not up to the standards of say, the Nokia 5130 or the 5310 and the materials feels very cheap indeed. The back of the phone has rubberized plastic that features latitudinal ridging for an anti-slip grip.
The front of the phone sports the 2 inch display, the ergonomic keypad and an ambient light sensor present just above the screen. The 2 inch display comes as a disappointment as it produces only 262K colours and features a low pixel density where you can literally see each and every pixel; this at least is duly taken care of in the next model, the 5130 which features a screen with the same stats but greater pixel density. Colours are also not vibrant and the viewing angle is very narrow.
The keypad does not seem very user friendly but it infact is; the individuation of each key and the large spacing between them ensures the user will not make any typos, the tactile keys also mean that good finger-orientation is possible. Another unique design element on the phone is the lanyard eyelet for the neck-strap. While on most phones it is treated as an eye-sore, the 5220 wears it proudly and can be seen as an aluminum ring below the keypad.
The right side of the phone hosts the music keys with the music key illuminations just above it. They blink to the rhythm of the music just like the tiny led blinker below the camera (a sad an ironic placement of a little bulb where an LED flash should have been.) Another design improvement over the 5310 is the placement of the microSD slot outside and to the right side of the phone. Being hot-swappable the slot's position in the 5310 under the battery cover didn't make much sense.
The phone sports the popular mid-range Nokia phone User-Interface (UI), the Series 40. Half of a phone's worth is determined by its user-interface and Nokia's UIs are among the best. Moreover, Nokia update them time and again to meet the latest trends in the handset market. This time, Nokia have embedded the latest version of their S40 UI, the S40 5th edition with FeaturePack 1. Among the unique features of the S40 is the active standby, which gives quick access to the most frequently used applications. Portions of the active standby are also customizable to the user's preferences. There's also the option to add a note to the active stand-by. On the whole, the S40 is quick and responsive and is always ticking when you need it.
Needless to say, telephony is brilliant thanks to the noise cancellation technology that is incorporated here. Noise cancellation cuts out unwanted background noise so that the noise at the other end can be heard clearly. As in the case of other Nokia S40 phones, there is still no smart dialing. Smart dialing lets users call contacts by typing their names on the standby screen, without which it will take users several clicks in the contacts menu to do the same.
The heart of this music phone lies in its music phone playing capabilities. Integral to this is the music player. Like all XpressMusic phones, the 5220 incorporates the intuitive XpressMusic player that controls mp3 music playback. The player caters to every genre of listener with stereo widening effects and 7 equalizer presets, two of which are fully customizable. Speaking of customization, the player skin is customizable too using themes similar to the ones for the phone menu. The player can be controlled using the dedicated music keys from anywhere in the menu, while in the music player interface, users may also use the D-pad as an alternative to the music keys.
Ofcourse no music phone is complete without a radio player. In this case, the radio player looks similar to the XpressMusic player and offers similar cosmetic customization options. There is also RDS support and automatic scanning and saving of available stations. The audio quality is similar to the Nokia 5310 and also high end feature phones. The loudspeaker complements the digital output and is the best in the range, infact it is one of the many improvements over the 5310 and is doubtless better than the loudspeaker on the older sibling. To round up the media triangle is the video player which is simple yet functional and provides support for 3GP and MPEG4 formats.
The phone's 2MP camera is also the best in the 2MP range and can even outclass some bigger MP cameras on older generation handsets. For the first time the 5220 debuts the Nokia proprietary processing algorithm or NIPS which improves low-light photography. The details of its workings are not made public but rest assured it works; where most camera phones boost ISO levels for low light photography and hence result in bright but noisy images, the 5220 keeps those ISO levels down yet somehow manages to make the image appear brighter than it actually is. Another improvement over older 2MP units is that the 5220 takes far less time to save the image than other phones. Although the 5220 is a music player first and a camera second, the camera performs surprisingly well. In light of this it's a shame that Nokia hasn't taken the trouble to protect the exposed camera lens prone to scratches.
There are plenty of connectivity options in the 5220 with the exception of 3G and WLAN; technologies that are ready to seep into the mid-end segment any time soon. There's also no infrared, not that it's of any use these days. The important wireless connectivity channels such as GPRS, EDGE, HSCSD, Bluetooth and WAP are present in their latest versions and should suffice the user's every need.
Applications include the proprietary Nokia browser in addition to Opera Mini. Of the two, Opera Mini is the better browser. Next in line is WidSets which brings together all your favourite sites to a single place for free. This service is offered by Widsets.com. Among the web-based widgets available there's YouTube, Flickr, Ebay and Wikipedia. Then there's a wallpaper creator, the name is self-explanatory. Other apps include Nokia Sensor (which is a Bluetooth app), Nokia Download! Yahoo! Search and World Clock.
Finally, there's Nokia Maps in case you get lost and need to find your way around, without GPS it works as a map alone. There is also the option to pair the phone with an external GPS device to get turn by turn voice navigation assistance. You may use third party apps like Google Maps which too have their own little quirks.
In conclusion the Nokia 5220 features many improvements over the 5310 and other similar phones. It is truly the latest mid-segment model available. It scores better than the 5310 in terms of battery life, better camera, quality loudspeaker and much more and all this for a price lesser than that of the 5310. The choice should be clear as to which phone to choose, unless you have a phobia for the askew design.
- 2” 256K colour display of QVGA resolution
- 2MP camera with NIPS technology
- Slim asymmetrical design
- Dedicated Music Keys with dancing illuminations
- Ambient light sensor
- S40 5th edition UI with Feature Pack 1
- Nokia Maps
- Yahoo! integration
- Nokia Stereo Headset HS-48 (available with phone)
- Lanyard (available with phone)
- Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-503
- Nokia Stereo Headset WH-600
- Nokia Mini Speakers MD-6