Red, black and loud...

Hmm, I know I should've paid it with my own money, but my dad bought me a new phone when we and my mum went to church and took a stroll during Independence day. The phone's a Nokia 5320 XpressMusic, which was the Finnish electronics firm's way of pissing off Sony Ericsson and its ubiquitous Walkman line.

The phone's a 3G/HSDPA-capable handset, with media playback capabilities of course, although the latter features were its selling point, for those teens and twenty-somethings who can't get enough of their fave tunes, yet aren't willing to shell green for an iPod or iPhone. It looks just fine on the cosmetic side, although the rewind/FF/play keys are a little wobbly, and the USB jack cover is a little too awkward to pop out - those who frequently plug their device to a PC or a USB-capable audio player may end up breaking the flap over time.

It boasts a dedicated DSP chip for a more epic sound experience, much like the decoder used in the original N-Gage and the 3300, as well as most other XpressMusic handsets. While the single mono speaker that came with the phone didn't do great justice (sounds were a little scratchy, especially those lo-fi, oldschool and low-bitrate tracks, such as Shirley Temple's "Be Optimistic"), docking it on a speaker stand or a home theatre system does the trick - a 3.5mm headphone jack comes standard, which lets you use practically any speaker or headset without any adapters.
As for the interface and software, it is a little straightforward once you get used to the S60 platform, save for a time when I can't find my SIM contacts. Most of them apps that work on an S60 Third Edition device may work on it (some of the apps that I tried were a file browser, an antivirus, and some games), although warezed games, unsigned utilities and other such stuff are crapshoot to install, no thanks to the mandatory digital signature scheme, but at least it's a better stretch than having an infected phone. (I later hacked it to run unsigned software through HelloOX, even if the device was still under warranty :P) It also has an ARM11 CPU @ 369Mhz under the hood, which is powerful enough for the phone to run emulators for Speccys, NES, SNES or even the GBA. Grand Theft Auto Advance runs at a playable framerate via VBag, and I'm certain that other Game Boy titles might work. It also comes with the N-Gage online service built-in (older firmware versions weren't bundled with it and will have to be downloaded separately), with free trials of popular N-Gage 2.0 titles like The Sims 2 and Asphalt 3: Street Rules. It could've used a little help from a dedicated GPU like the N95, but since they had to make sure that it comes with a lower price tag, well, you know what I mean.

Other than some minor quirks and occasional apparent hang-ups, I had no problems with the device, and it did fare pretty well on me. I personally recommend this phone to younger people who are looking for a cool yet not-so-expensive or bloated music device. If you're looking for a phone for corporate stuff, this isn't for you. If you're a sixty-something and you find it hard or frustrating to boot up a smartphone, this isn't for you.


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