The devices that we call feature-phones have had quite an evolution of their own over the years. Even before the first full-fledged smartphones came out, these ‘cellphones’ got smarter in their own right. These devices integrated color screens, games, a little bit of customization, internet browsing, and most importantly, the ability to play music on the go. One of the milestone-gadgets that helped cellphones become the primary source of music for users was the Nokia 5130 XpressMusic. The Nokia 5130 XpressMusic or just the XpressMusic needs no introduction. It was so popular a decade ago that everyone either owned one or likely knew someone who did. Now, almost 12 years later, the company has finally launched the successor to the original XpressMusic. We got the successor in the form of the Nokia 5310. It still is a music-oriented feature-phone, and here’s what we think about it. Also Read - Nokia teases affordable 5G phone with Snapdragon 690 SoC
The Nokia 5310 is meant to remind you of the older 5130, and it does. The phone features a plastic body with a matte finish throughout. The backlit keypad of the Nokia 5310 retains the clicky feel that smartphones have forced us to forget. Our device features Reddish-Orange (Coquelicot or even Ferrari Red) strips on the side make this somewhat eye-catching. However, the accents are not as pronounced as its predecessor, which makes this more minimal compared to the funky Nokia 5130. There is a bigger 2.4-inch QVGA screen on the phone with the same resolution as the original. This brings the PPI (Pixel Per Inch) down to 167 from 200. That is not a big deal though as we welcome the bigger screen. Also Read - Nokia 5310 Xpress Music launched in India at Rs 3,399; check features and specifications
The upper-right edge of the device encases the dedicated music-control buttons including play/pause, go back and skip ahead. Left edge of the device features dedicated buttons to control the volume. The volume buttons work uniformly throughout the entire device. This means that users can use these buttons to control the volume of the smartphone ringer or alarms beyond the music volume. This interface change is similar to what we see in contemporary smartphones.
However, the music buttons do not act as customizable shortcut keys and only work while you have either the music player or the FM Radio app. It is worth noting that the company has removed the light strip on the sides of the screen in the new model. This is understandable as the flashy lights had no purpose other than draining your battery. The only other reason we can think of is drawing some extra attention during a call. The bottom side of the device is clean, while the top side features a micro-USB charging port and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Nokia 5310 Vs Nokia 5130: What’s changed?
The new Nokia 5310 gains two new changes that are much more useful practically. The first is the addition of dual speakers. The second is the addition of a camera flash on the back (more on this later). A phone that focuses on music should have a crisp loud sound output, and the Nokia 5310 achieves this. The volume levels on the new Nokia 5310 can even put many budget smartphones to shame. These volume levels also help the user while taking any calls. When set on full volume, I was able to hear the incoming call rings from anywhere in my house. Users will also be able to hear the rings from under a sofa cushion or a car seat.
Music and FM Radio
So the 2020 successor still does not feature any local storage. That means if you want to play music, the music is stored on a microSD card, just like the old times. The simple music player on the phone is easy-to-use and the sound output was pretty great. The light weight of the phone along with the small size meant I could take my music with me on my morning runs without worrying about the bulk. The buttons on the side meant I could skip tracks without even looking at the phone. In such use-cases, the fact that the Nokia 5310 feels more like an mp3 player with cellular connectivity, worked in my favor.
The FM radio also saw a similar performance and we were pleased with the results. Unlike most contemporary devices, the FM Radio on the Nokia 5310 works without a headset. However, a wired headset will give you a better performance. You get a neat widget on the home screen when you’re playing via the music player and the Radio app. However, the easiest way to control the playback and the volume will always be with the help of the phone’s standout features, the dedicated buttons.
One of the few disappointments with the new Nokia 5310 is the VGA camera. The device is still a feature phone and yes, we don’t expect it to compete with smartphone cameras. However, a VGA sensor is still not quite acceptable in 2020. For some context, the original Nokia 5130 launched with a 2-megapixel sensor in 2009. Though, the presence of a VGA camera is still isn’t a deal-breaker here. Most people will not be using this feature phone as their primary or even secondary camera. However, some older people who don’t use smartphones will use this camera a lot. Nokia realizes the importance of the camera here and added a powerful flash that was not present in the older 5130. We still think that a 2-megapixel camera sensor would have been a better choice on the device.
Usability and Call Quality
As expected, the phone is supremely comfortable to use. Beyond the small size, elements like the rounded design with no sharp edges give the Nokia 5310 a great in-hand feel. Given the light weight, you could hold the phone up for that long phone call without working up your wrist.
Speaking of calling, it is going to be the primary method of communication on the new Nokia 5310. And I must say, the phone does not disappoint in this department. The audio during calls sounds crisp on both ends. The signal reception was pretty good too considering the poor reception in my area.
Another element that did not surprise me was the battery life. I may be partly biased here as my eyes have become habitual of seeing smartphone batteries die out repeatedly in the last few years. However, the 1,200mAh removable battery on the phone does deliver its worth. In fact, I had to charge the phone just once in about a week of usage. Nokia claims you can manage to get about 22-30 days worth backup on standby. Moreover, the battery is removable so you can quickly swap it out if you have a spare battery at hand.
The Nokia 5310 is a nice feature phone. But we must admit that some aspects of the phone’s specifications are not particularly impressive even for a feature-phone. At Rs 3,399, the Nokia 5310 isn’t too expensive but competes with options like the JioPhone, which has LTE support and a 2-megapixel rear camera. It is also worth noting that JioPhone is cheaper in price than the XpressMusic successor. The Nokia 5310 is by no means a bad device but relies heavily on the nostalgia factor that more brands are hitting. That being said, the phone no doubt excels in its music-delivering experience, battery, and usage. But, areas like the camera further narrow down the already small niche-market that the Nokia 5310 is aiming at. If you seek a feature-phone mainly for portable music, the Nokia 5310 is a great device. However, you could look for other options for a more balanced feature-phone.