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31 December 2007

Nokia 5610 XpressMusic Review

We are having the pleasure of a handset that has been designed to meet the highest expectations of music fans. Its other features however are pretty interesting too and will surely appeal to a wider audience.

It seems phone manufacturers are head over heels about music in phones. Well, it seems reasonable that many users would prefer their music on their handsets instead of carrying an additional dedicated device of similar features. The first music centered phones by Nokia were labeled 5200 and 5300, and the latter is a direct forerunner of the one we're testing today - Nokia 5610.

Key features

  • High-quality construction, steel highlights
  • 3G support with video calls
  • 2.2" TFT QVGA display
  • 3 megapixel camera with autofocus
  • Advanced music functions, radio with RDS
  • Stereo Bluetooth
  • Good keypad
  • microSD memory card slot

Main disadvantages

  • Front panel susceptible to fingerprints
  • Camera LED unusable as a flashlight
  • Charging through USB not possible
  • Easy to scratch lens glass protector
  • microUSB port is not that popular

Solid beauty at its purest

I must confess I wasn't thrilled with Nokia 5610 right from its very launch. The Nokia 5610 XpressMusic new-comer was in for a stand-offish welcome but all doubts vanished as soon as that box opened. The phone boasts a captivating design: the minimalist front contrasts with a back panel of unusual form, which covers the entire rear side of the phone. The rear panel is dimple-patterned for better grip and features an ostentatious logo that underlines the sporty design of the phone.

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5610 XpressMusic in its red variety compared to N95 8GB

We had the red-trim for our reviewing but the phone will also be offered in blue, which many will perhaps like more. The red version is flashier but still elegant: the red trimming extends to the steel highlights on the sides of the front. The casing features three colors altogether: red, grey and black.

Speaking of colors, black is only used on the front of the Nokia 5610 slider. The front glossy plastic is black and it captures fingerprints very easily. The steel framing of the slider is painted red in our test model, whereas in the blue version it's dark grey. By the way, for the most part the blue Nokia 5610 is actually metallic grey... Right next to the earpiece on the front, you'll also find the ambient light sensor and the tiny secondary camera.

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Clad in red and grey Nokia 5610 looks great

A thin red trimming runs along the entire body dividing the two parts of the slider. It hosts the lanyard eyelet at the bottom of the handset. On the right are the shutter key and the volume rocker.

The most interesting part of the phone however is its top side. Here you will find the charger connector and the microUSB port. The data cable is delivered with the phone, which is a good thing since the microUSB is not a widely accepted standard and data cables are really hard to find currently.

Another element is the 2.5 mm jack. Nokia 5610 ships with a 3.5 mm jack adapter, as the supplied Nokia headset uses that same type of connection. The headset mic is located on the adapter. The handsfree function remains available even if you plug in a headset of your own.

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A USB cable and a stereo headset traditionally delivered in the retail package

The last element standing at the top of Nokia 5610 is a square black key, which serves as a battery cover latch. Removing the rear panel requires some effort, which will bring out a few creaks. For a moment or so I even believed I would break it.

Other than that, we haven't heard a single creak while reviewing it, which speaks highly of the handset's durability and reliability.

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All slots are crowded at the top, no room for a power button there

The phone reacts weirdly to the removal of the rear cover: the player stops working awaiting manipulation with the memory card. When the rear panel is put back into place, the player starts an automatic update of the entire music library.

While the memory card is operable without removing the battery, taking the battery out is obligatory if the SIM card is to be removed. The antenna is accommodated in the bottom part of the phone.

The camera lens is only slightly imbedded into the rear plate and can be easily damaged. In fact, it has a glass protector, but it is mounted on the lens itself, not level with the rear surface. The camera is accompanied by a pair of LEDs.

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SIM and memory card layout identical to 6500 slide • microSD is hot-swappable

The size of Nokia 5610 is average according to today's standards: 98.5 x 48.5 x 17 mm. Its weight (111 grams) is nothing special either. Charged once every 3 or 4 days, the 900 mAh battery will keep you going with 20 SMS and a few minutes of calling daily, and frequent MP3 or radio use. It takes about an hour and a half to charge fully.

NaviSlide: the great advantage

Let's now look at the keypad of Nokia 5610. In all fairness, it's a great example of a high-usability keypad. The alphanumeric keyboard is made of glossy black plastic, which tends to easily get dirty, but fortunately fingerprints are not so visible.

Typing is pure pleasure. Keystrokes are gentle but offer great feedback. The top row of keys is easy to reach, the slider won't stand in the way at all.

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To the left, to the right: enjoy the NaviSlide

The novel feature in Nokia 5610 is its NaviSlide navigation key just below the display. The end positions of this sliding button are backlit in white. The two LEDs at the ends of the NaviSlide groove can be set up to blink to indicate missed events when the phone is inactive or create light effects for the player.

In general, the NaviSlide key is meant for easy access to the music functions. A slide to the right will launch the radio menu, while sliding it to the left will activate the music player. The NaviSlide can also get you back to the main menu.

All keys are evenly illuminated in white, including the periphery of the D-pad. Nearly all the functions of Nokia 5610 can be managed with the slider closed, but backlighting won't turn on unless the slider is open.

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The keypad is susceptible to fingerprints just like the area around the display

Display: great at sunlight and made for video

One can hardly criticize Nokia when it comes to display legibility in direct sunlight. As usual Nokia 5610 makes good use of the reflexive film on its display - legibility under bright light is great.

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High-quality display and even key illumination

We're dealing with an active TFT display of standard QVGA resolution (240 x 320 pixels). The screen measures 33.5 x 44.7 mm. Colors are deep, contrast is superb. Nokia 5610 views more than 16 millions colors.

The fifth version of the S40 user interface is nice

Nokia has recently released several phones using Series 40 5th Edition UI. The first model to feature this interface was Nokia 7500 Prism, followed by Nokia 6500 classic and Nokia 6500 slide.

Each way on the Nokia 5610 D-pad can be assigned basically any function. The selected shortcuts can then be set to appear on the display when active standby is off. The active standby mode is a standard feature for S40.

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Active standby mode on and off • screen saver • D-pad shortcuts

The main menu can be viewed in four different ways: list, grid, grid with legends and horizontal tabs). The grid without legends allows showing all icons in one display window.

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Menu viewed in four different ways

Nokia 5610 offers a particularly practical voice control. It needs no voice tag pre-recording and works with many of the phone's features.

The phone's firmware is updatable straight through the GSM network. New versions are downloaded and installed on-the-fly, without the need of a PC.

Another great news is the option to copy and paste text from across applications. For example, you can easily copy part of an SMS into the calendar.

Response to user commands is instant. Even the camera start-up time can make many handsets jealous.

Brilliant telephony

Phone applications have been improved to the level of perfection in the S40 5th. The phonebook has been expanded to store up to 2000 contacts.

Each entry can be assigned numerous fields. First names are separate from last names to make synchronization with Outlook seamless.

Ringtones can be assigned to each contact. Naturally, you can also assign personal pictures or videos that will run on an incoming call. The speakerphone function is available too.

Calls can be recorded with the voice recorder, which is good news - the recording limit is set to an hour.

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Phonebook: the usual treat

It is possible to view contacts saved in the phone memory or those stored on SIM, or both lists together. Searching is done by gradual typing of the contact's name.

Many will surely appreciate the option for a larger phonebook font. What's more, contacts can be filed into groups to use as call filters. Push to Talk - a function Nokia usually puts in most of its releases, is available in this model too.

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Nokia 5610 has quad band GSM support and works in the following GSM networks: 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz. Dual band 3G support is also onboard (UMTS) at 2100 and 850 MHz. The front QVGA camera allows making video calls.

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The secondary QVGA camera for video calls

Nokia 5610 doesn't have a dedicated power button, which - when available - is also used for switching between ringing profiles.

Speaking of ringing profiles - there are seven of them in the phone. Profiles can be activated temporarily with a preset expiry time. Flight mode is available too.

The phone supports 64-voice polyphonic ringtones, while MP3, AAC, WMA and AMR files cane be used as incoming call alerts too.

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Profiles • flight mode on

In-call audio quality is very good, sound is rich and clear on both ends.

GSMArena editor's note: You have probably noticed that the Nokia 5610 review is not home-brewed, but is instead courtesy of our Czech partners over at Therefore it doesn't feature our in-house loudness and audio quality tests, seen lately in all of our reviews.

One message editor for all your needs

Nokia 5610 uses the same editor for both SMS and MMS. Inserting an image, video, business card, calendar memo, etc will turn a regular text message into MMS. The message type can also be set up manually from the context menu.

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One common editor for SMS and MMS

The editor offers three font sizes. With the smallest one up to 10 lines are displayed when reading a message and 9 when typing. Of course, you can refer to the T9 dictionary. SMS length limit is 1000 characters. The number of chunks a longer message breaks down to is also indicated.

The number of the message recipient can either be typed manually or selected from a list of the 10 most recent contacts in the call log. Besides, a contact can be set as favorite and appear on top of the above mentioned list.

Emailing is no longer courtesy of a Java application, we have an integrated email client instead. It works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols and handles up to 5 mailboxes. The user has the option to set up automatic mail check, as well as choose to download either entire messages or headers only. There's no limit on attachment size.

Organizer: top one in its class

The organizing functions in Nokia 5610 are the familiar and reliable Series40 stuff. The calendar offers month, week, and day views. Right beneath the month view you can see the events corresponding to the day you have selected.

The week can start on Monday, Sunday, and even Saturday. There are five types of events in the calendar: meeting, call, birthday, memo, and reminder. Further on, each event has its own specific fields like start and end time, type of alert with various advance intervals, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly repetition.

Sundays in the month view are marked in red, while days with events appear in bold (not easy to recognize at first sight though).

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Calendar, reminders, event alert

The to-do manager offers three priority levels. Tasks can be assigned a reminder, as well as marked off once accomplished. They are easily synced with the calendar too.

Text notes are available as well; their length limit is 3000 characters.

The alarm clock is repeatable and can be set up to wake you up on chosen days of the week. It works with the phone switched-off too. As usual for all mobiles with a radio, you can set your favorite station to act as the alarm. In this case, make sure you've plugged in your headset.

Among the other organizing functions of Nokia 5610 we should not leave unmentioned the voice recorder with 60-minute long recordings, the stopwatch and the countdown timer.

An especially detailed calculator is available too, offering powers and square roots, for example. Nokia has even thought about more advanced users adding a fully-featured scientific calculator. A practical loan calculator is also at hand.

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High on math: a loan calculator is available too

The folder with Java applications contains a pre-installed unit converter, a world time application, and the favorite Opera Mini 3.0. Other applications here are Sensor for communication via Bluetooth and Yahoo! Search - an engine that brings all Yahoo services to your phone.

Nokia 5610 boasts 4 very good games for your moments of leisure: the 3rd version of the unbeatable Snake (yet missing the mysterious attraction of the good old snake for monochrome dsiplays), City Bloxx, a breath-taking 3D rally, and Music Guess.

Music Guess draws details from the music library. The more players participate, the more interesting it gets. The game plays a fragment of a song and offers several possible titles, which gradually disappear one after another. The objective is to guess the right title in the shortest time possible.

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Games feature beautiful graphics


Nokia 5610 is a music phone and, hey, it acts accordingly. Not to mention that it looks the part: NaviSlide and the dual purpose confirming center of the D-pad speak books of the orientation of this handset towards the most demanding music fans.

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Radio and music player - one click away with NaviSlide

Nokia 5610 has a stereo FM radio with RDS (still far from being a standard feature in mobile phones). Naturally, the radio only functions when the headset is plugged in to serve as an antenna. In fact all you need to do is plug in the 3.5 mm adapter.

The radio application will store 20 of your preferred stations, upon an automatic scan. Four different themes are available for the radio and the music player.

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The included adapter lets you use headphones of your choice via a 3.5 mm jack

If the radio becomes too boring, go for the music player. It works with MP3, MP4, AAC, AMR, and WMA formats and comes with 7 equalizer presets and a stereo extension option. Songs are filed by ID3 tags or organized by artist, album and music genre.

Different playlists can be created to meet specific user requirements and, of course, the player can run in the background. The supported A2DP profile allows listening on Bluetooth wireless headphones.

A link to the video application is inside the music player - a curious and unusual decision for Nokia. Videos can be watched in fullscreen.

Only paid data

In terms of connectivity options, Nokia 5610 offers Bluetooth 2.0 and wired data transfers via the microUSB cable enclosed in the retail package. Once you've paired your Nokia 5610 with a PC, three modes to choose from appear on the display: synchronization, picture print over PictBridge and USB Mass Storage (the memory card appears as a removable drive on your PC). While with Nokia 6500 classic charging off USB was available, Nokia 5610 XpressMusic doesn't offer it.

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20 MB of built-in memory topped with a 1 GB microSD card in the retail package

Network support includes the outdated CSD and the more modern HSCSD. GPRS Class 10 and EDGE are available too. Faster data transfers are available with UMTS, which allows downloads at 384 Kbps. Unfortunately, HSDPA is missing in Nokia 5610.

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Two browsers: Nokia Web and Opera Mini

Nokia 5610 comes with an integrated web browser. Font size modifications and direct address entering are available, of course.

The phone is delivered with a CD with the necessary software to make the best of your device. Here you will find the Nokia PC Suite, the Starter version of the Adobe Photoshop Album for work with pictures and the Basic package of Ulead Video ToolBox for work with videos.

Camera: Symbian-like performer

Nokia 5610 camera could've been the best shooter among non-Symbian Nokia handsets, if it wasn't for the 6500 slide. It offers 3.2 megapixel resolution, or maximum picture size of 2048 x 1536 pixels. It's armed with auto focus for getting the most out of your shots.

There is a LED flash though for better shoots in low light. The camera lens is only slightly sunk in the rear surface, so be careful not to scratch it.

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Camera lens, dual LED • shutter key on the side

The camera options are not the most sophisticated, but good enough if you're not too demanding. And you know what we think of the S40 gallery. Pictures can be viewed in full-screen mode and easily sent to another device via Bluetooth or printed over PictBridge.

Inside the Gallery the file structure of the internal memory is fully separated from the memory card. This however in no way complicates file transferring and filing in folders.

Sample pictures:

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Night mode

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A bit of PC history

Image quality is good. The colors are quite natural and the exposure is usually correct. In bright light the noise is under control and the amount of resolved detail is above average for the class. The shadow areas are sometimes too noisy though. Even though the camera does not offer a dedicated macro mode, it handles close-ups quite well thanks to the auto focus.

VGA videos shot with Nokia 5610 are nothing to praise really. Nokia 5610 records video at 15 fps in the common 3GP format. Sound recording can be disabled while capturing videos.

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Nokia 5610 XpressMusic is a superb and compact music slider, covering all the essentials of a contemporary handset. It has original design, great music capabilities and above-average camera. Last but not least, the solid sporty casing and brilliant display sure add to the appeal.

Nokia 5610 outspokenly targets the young and music is understandably of the utmost importance. Along with it though, this handset seems to have enough to enjoy a more diversified following.

Nokia 5610 is already selling and the price tag of about 320 Euro makes it a reasonable choice given the variety of functions on offer.

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