Nokia 5230 review: Foot soldiers get smarter

Foot soldiers get smarter

GSMArena team, 12 December 2009.

The camera is not much of a feature

Nokia 5230 has a 2 MP camera with a maximum image resolution of 1600x1200 pixels. There’s no auto focus or LED flash. Hardly the dream of a photography enthusiast, right? Well, its performance isn’t anything to write home about either.

The camera UI is quite unfriendly with all settings squeezed in a common menu, which is no match for what some other manufacturers offer on their full-touch handsets (think Samsung for starters).

„Nokia „Nokia
The camera UI is quite messy

On the positive side, the range of settings on the Nokia 5230 is extensive enough: from manual white balance and ISO to exposure compensation, sharpness and contrast. Various effects are also at hand, labeled color tones and there is also geo-tagging.

The viewfinder doesn't occupy the whole screen - a bar on the right is reserved for the touch controls. This way you get to see the whole frame rather than having a part of it cropped due to the aspect differences of the display and the sensor.

You have a settings button that launches a semi-transparent overlay of all available shooting options and an on-screen shutter key. With the lack of auto focus you might as well use that last one just as successfully as the regular shutter key.

We didn’t have any great expectations about the image quality of Nokia 5230 and it turned out to be the right way to go. The amount of resolved detail is pretty low and the contrast of the photos is too low. And with the noise also pretty high you get the idea that you better use the Nokia 5230 camera for taking contact pics only.

Nokia 5230 Nokia 5230 Nokia 5230 Nokia 5230 Nokia 5230 Nokia 5230
Nokia 5230 camera samples

VGA videos sound nice, look poor

Video recording is definitely the better part of the Nokia 5230 imaging skills. The phone can shoot VGA footage at 30fps. Quite good, considering the 2 MP still shots, right? Well in this price range, they're probably among the best you can get, but in general they are quite uninspiring. The relatively high compression applied results in too many artifacts and an unpleasant pixelated look. The often mistaken color balance doesn’t help much either.

Videos are captured in MPEG-4 format and can have automatic or manual white balance. The other available settings are night mode, exposure and color effects.

Nokia 5230 camera sample video

All connectivity lacks is Wi-Fi

The Nokia 5230 is pretty well-heeled in terms of connectivity. Wi-Fi is the only major omission, so if you don’t have a data plan you might be better off buying a Nokia 5530 XpressMusic.

If you go for 5230 however, you will certainly appreciate the network connectivity Nokia 5230 offers. There’s GPRS, EDGE and 3G with 3.6Mbps HSDPA onboard.

Local connectivity relies on USB v2.0 and Bluetooth. There’s also a memory card slot, which can usually give you the fastest data transfer rates. Unfortunately, USB charging via the USB port is not possible – not that there is a USB cable in the retail package.

Web browser still has some catching up to do

The S60 web browser is decently usable, especially now that is also offers kinetic scrolling. Yet there is quite a lot of work remaining before it is able to rival the best in class. The Andoird and iPhone browsers are miles ahead in terms of usability and user-friendliness. However we don’t Nokia particularly enjoys the role of also-runs so we expect them to do something about it in the near future.

But let’s not digress. The Nokia 5230 browser has good rendering algorithm, displaying most of the sites we visited correctly. It also offers some nice functionality such as different font sizes (5 options), auto fill-in of web forms and password manager.

„Nokia „Nokia „Nokia
The S60 web browser still needs some polishing

The built-in RSS reader will handle your feeds, while the download manager allows you to download any kind of files while surfing. There's also a popup blocker, but bear in mind that you cannot open a new window in any other way but clicking a pop-up link. We'd have really preferred to see an option to open links in new window.

A minimap is available for finding your way around large pages and the Find on page feature allows you search for keywords. The visual history is a nice bonus that can help you find a page you've visited more easily. Finally, the web browser has support for Flash and Flash video, which means you can enjoy Flash videos straight in your browser.

One of the disadvantages of the web browser is concerning the kinetic scrolling - it is certainly a nice feature to have on board and all but its implementation in the web browser needs polishing. The scrolling is there but it lacks the momentum you see when scrolling listed items in the menu and you'll need several sweeps for even moderately-sized pages.

Besides, it gets pretty bumpy at times, instead of the smooth scrolling on some competitors. Fingers crossed that and the awkward process management will be addressed in a firmware update some time soon.

Continuing our grudges with the web browser, if you happen to be in portrait mode and choose the fit-to-width zoom level, the text does not automatically center onscreen. Instead you will have to align it manually, which is nonsense really.

Double tapping any text zooms it in on screen, but again, the text doesn't fit the zoomed area and you still need to scroll sideways.

So, generally speaking, the S60 touch-browser is going in the right direction but there's still a lot of work to be done to catch up with the rest. The improved usability is a nice start but it's nowhere near the iPhone or Android standards. The same goes for the resolution, which is a lot better than the QVGA non-touch predecessors but hardly a match for the WVGA.

Organizer misses a document viewer

The S60 5th edition organizer is pretty well geared although its applications are already in need of refreshment - especially on a touchscreen. Some of the apps are starting to look boring and dated, having the same interface for over 3 years now.

Just as with the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and N97, developers were hesitant to put the touch input to some good usage and maybe some cool new features. They have only gone as far as to touch-optimize the S60 3rd edition apps.

The calendar has four different view modes - monthly, weekly, daily and a to-do list, which allows you to check all your To-Do entries regardless of their date. There are four types of events available for setting up - Meeting, Memo, Anniversary and To-do. Each event has unique fields of its own, and some of them allow an alarm to be activated at a preset time to act as a reminder.

„Nokia „Nokia
The organizer centerpiece - the calendar

Unfortunately, the Quickoffice application wasn't preinstalled on our Nokia 5230 nor was it available through the Nokia download center. Many users contacted us having the same problem with their 5530 XpressMusic units so we are guessing it is some kind of regional thing. However this doesn’t excuse Nokia even one bit as every smartphone needs to have a decent document viewer, if not even editor.

The calculator application is well familiar but it lacks the functionality of some of its competitors. The square root is the most complicated function it handles and this is no longer considered an achievement. If all you do with it is split the bill at the bar though, you're free to disregard that last sentence.

„Nokia
Square root function is as good as the calculator gets

The organizer package also includes a great unit converter voice recorder, as well as the Notes application.

„Nokia „Nokia „Nokia
There is also unit converter and voice recorder onboard

The alarm application allows you to set up as many alarms as you want, each with its own name, trigger day and repeat pattern. If this seems too complicated, there is a quick alarm setup where all you do is set the time and you're good to go. Thanks to the built-in accelerometer you can also snooze the alarm by simply flipping your phone.

„Nokia „Nokia „Nokia „Nokia
Setting up an alarm

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

I Like Nokia 5230 than the smart phone. I be happy to have it again. Its so nice.

  • Anonymous

how do you download certificates

  • Anonymous

m.gsmarea.com