Nokia was the undisputed leader in the mobile phones market till a few years ago. They have had many iconic models that went on to become household names. HMD Nokia has very cleverly brought a few of them back. The latest entry is the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic . Here is my review.
Back in the day, the XpressMusic range was meant to be youth-focused, playful, and cost-effective, and for a time, it did fulfill its purpose.
Fast forward to 2020, and we have a new low-end phone that carries forward a little bit of the style of the original, but serves a very different purpose in today’s world. It’s officially priced at Rs. 3,399 in India, right in line with the Nokia 3310 (2017). We’ve spent over two weeks with the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic (2020) and here is what we think of this device.
The all-new 2020 version of the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is a very serious throwback, even by feature phone standards. Actually, the most advanced thing about it is that it supports dual SIMs, but then HMD Global, which operates the Nokia brand and portfolio, has given this phone with two Mini-SIM slots. You heard that right, not Nano-SIM or the older Micro-SIM format, you have to go all the way back to Mini-SIMs or find adapters. This is a pain in today’s context.
Another problem with this device is that this phone is 2G only, and has patchy Wi-Fi support. Whatever you try to do with it, you’ll be limited to pre-2008-era mobile Internet speeds. This is big letdown for me.
There’s a 0.3 megapixel camera on the rear (640×480 resolution) with a flash, which means you get a flashlight, one of the most appreciated features of low-end phones in India. You get a Micro-USB charging port (which is capable of USB 1.1 speed for data transfers – that’s 1.5Mbps, compared to 480Mbps for USB 2.0) as well as Bluetooth 3.0.
You get a choice of black and white, both of which have red side panels with buttons – volume on the left, music playback on the right – which is this phone’s main connection to its namesake. These are positioned comfortably but are a tad too easy to hit by accident. The phone overeall feels plasticky and is definitely entry-level; much more like the current-day Nokia 1xx series than the original Nokia 5310.
The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic (2020) takes around about a second to wake from standby when you press any button,the UI is very smooth and responsive. There’s no lag with basic workflow situations, such as typing a message using T9 predictive text. HMD Global has used the same MediaTek Mediatek MT6260A processor that’s in the Nokia 3310 (2017) and a few other feature phone models.
There’s only 8MB of RAM and 16MB of storage (you heard that right, that’s MB, not GB) although microSD support does go up to 32GB. You’ll clearly need to buy a microSD card in order to store music on this phone.
The device comes with a 2.4-inch 240×320-pixel screen which is extremely basic. You can see that photos look blotchy, with a bit of a coarse gradient. Blacks are glassy and viewing angles are extremely poor. That said, the resolution isn’t too bad and you can have at least 12 lines of text which doesn’t make simple usage feel too constraining. You can even play low-res 3GPP videos, for what that’s worth.
The Series 30+ software is actually quite reliable and very capable and there are a few very useful touches. You have the option to choose the menu grid density or switch to a list view. There are some very useful tools including a notes app, unit converter, calculator, five alarms, stopwatch, and timer. The calendar has only a monthly view, but you can see the full grid on screen. You can switch the entire UI from English to one of nine Indian languages.
Battery life is brilliant – the 1200mAh battery is rated for 20.7 hours of continuous talk time and a completely incredible 22 days of standby time. In our experience we found that the battery just kept going and going and going and going, agreed that our usage was very basic and intermittent since there wasn’t much to do on this phone. We only managed to run the battery down completely after using it for almost two full weeks. Charging sadly takes nearly five hours, because of the very tiny 550mA charger you get in the box.
Let’s come to music. There are two features that are directly in tune with the XpressMusic tag on this model’s name: the stereo speakers, and wireless FM radio. The speakers are front-facing and evenly balanced, which is very impressive for a low-end feature phone. This tiny phone delivers sound that can get loud enough to fill up a decent-sized room, but don’t expect great quality. If you want to unwind and listen to music without having to stare at a screen for a long time, then this is the phone for you if you buy external storage.
The Nokia 5310 is available in White/Red and Black/Red in India at a recommended best buy price of INR 3,399 for the dual SIM variant.
If you are looking for a a phone that will get you to unwind, no screen, no distraction just music and a ton of Nostalgia, then this device is for you.