Nokia 5500 Sport review: Smartphone for active lifestyle

Ivo Mareček, 22 October 2006.

The good old Symbian

The uncommon resolution of the main display of Nokia 5500 in no way limits the visualization abilities of the phone. The most apparent difference is to be found in the fonts used in the phone menu. The stand-by display is divided into two basic sections: an upper part including information about the corresponding operator, data transfers, signal strenght, charge levels of the battery, the time, and even about the active ringing profile. The bottom part is either empty or contains details about the active stand-by display.

Within the stand-by display the phone can show up to 6 icons, which you can select from the settings section. Beneath these icons you can see updated calendar lists, unaccomplished tasks, and the music file running at that particular moment. To open an item (including the music player) and view the lists it hides simply select it and open it. Volume levels can be controlled straight from the main display as well. At the same time the right and the left functional keys can be assigned any function according to the user’s preference.

 
Main display without • and with active stand-by display • assigning functions to icons and keys

If you prefer not to use the active stand-by display, feel free to assign a function to each of the ways of the navigation key. Even so you will have a key less than the usual as Nokia 5500 Sport lacks the so called Multimedia key (available in all other smartphones equipped with Symbian OS).

Sportive & fast

Time shown on the stand-by display can be set up so that it gets automatically updated by the respective operator. This way you won’t need to bother yourself with time changes when you travel as operators of mobile networks will take care of them. In any case, make sure that the operator supports this service.

The main menu can be visualized either as a matrix, or as a list of items. One display page fits in 3 x 3 icons at a time. Instant selection is available through identically distributed number keys. In addition, the menu can be reordered and the items can be used in a different manner. The menu is cyclical, that is, it does not stop at the bottom but rolls again ti start from the beginning. Icons are designed with taste; contrast is very good. Applications may also be initiated via voice orders. Voice control works seamlessly, recognizing all built-in functions without prior instructions.

   
Various menu levels

The general design of the main menu of Nokia 5500 Sport can be modified through the use of graphic themes. Much like the applications however, graphic themes are exclusively made for Symbian S60 3rd Edition, which makes older themes virtually useless. Nokia 5500 contains 4 themes - two in the phone and two on the card - preinstalled by the manufacturer, all of them of average quality.

 
User interface is adjustable through graphic themes (original Nokia themes can be seen in the above pictures)

New applications are stored in the My own folder. From here you can then move them to other locations in the phone, into the root folder for example. The red key closes running programs. This is why in case of a necessity to minimize a running application evade the red key and make sure you get back to the main display in an alternative way – for example by pressing twice the key that opens the menu.

The speed, with which Nokia 5500 Sport responds to user’s orders, surprised me greatly. I find Nokia 5500 even faster than older N70 and 6681 models, but my opinion is totally subjective. Work with menu, phonebook or messages is pretty agile, while simpler operations are managed nearly as fast as in non-smartphone mobiles based on the Nokia S40 platform.

As all phones Nokia 5500 also has its mysteries; one of them is the memory size. According to the information published on the official Nokia website, the 5500 Sport model carries 64 MB; however, the File manager in the phone – when asked to display a detailed statement about available memory – announces mere 10 MB (the same number is published on the Forum Nokia website. I suppose the rest of the memory - 54 Mb - gets used up by the OS. The difficulty I meet here is that there are very few applications for measuring the memory of a phone in general. According to one of them, FileExplorer, the system disk Z of Nokia 5500 Sport has 37 MB. Yet 37 + 10 gives 47, not 64. So where have the resting 17 MB gone?


So what’s up with the memory?

Nokia 5500 Sport is delivered together with a 64MB microSD memory card. In other words, the phone does not demonstrate any special memory storage. If you want to enjoy music fully, an investment into an additional memory card would be necessary.

Not so good at images

The camera lens is located on the back side of the phone. Accompanying accessories (like flash or mirror for self-portraits) are missing. The lens is protected by a transparent plastic layer. The camera itself has a 2 megapixel sensor. The maximum available resolution is 1600 x 1200 pixels. Beside it the phone offers other two, lower resolution options – 1152 x 864 and 640 x 480 pixels. Once you have selected your preferred resolution you can further choose among three different quality levels as well as select the default names for the saved image. An option to select where in the memory you prefer to save your image is also available.

Nokia 5500 Sport
Built-in camera

 
Main window • settings • functions • white balance

The camera application reminds the cameras used in older smartphones and is rather limited if compared to the one built-in Nokia N80 for example. I mean, do not even try to look for functions like exposure compensation, auto-focusing, scene type setup, etc. Nokia 5500 provides you with 4 preset white balance settings while other options include night mode, sequence, self-release function, and color effects.

Nokia 5500 is equipped with a four-time digital zoom consisting of 12 steps. All my tries to capture text or closely located objects came out to be an absolute fiasco. The only visible part of a newspaper image, for example, is the article title; article content remains totally out of focus. Any additional image modifications require the download of special applications.

Take a closer look at the samples taken with Nokia 5500
   
   
  
    

Work with video records is very similar to photographing. The phone saves videos in 3GP format. The maximum available resolution here is 176 x 144 pixels (QCIF). There is also an alternative resolution option to use in MMS – 128 x 96 pixels. A night mode to be used under unfavorable light conditions is available too. Further on you can change the white balance and setup color nuance, or even deactivate sound in order to spare space in MMS. Zooming during shooting is no problem. And this is the end of the video settings Nokia 5500 Sport has to offer.

Nokia 5500 sample video: