Nokia 5310 XpressMusic Review

Introduction and Design
This is a GSM phone offered with T-Mobile.

Whether it’s a smartphone, music phone, or a phone with a great camera that you’re looking for, there are so many models out there and several of them fall into very specific niches. The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is just one of them and falls inline with the rest of the XpressMusic lineup.

With its dedicated control buttons, 3.5mm audio jack, FM radio with RDS, and stereo Bluetooth, it would be rather hard to miss that this is geared for those wanting a great cellphone with outstanding music capabilities. Nevertheless, we can’t forget about the rest of functions as this is still a cellphone at heart.

What’s in the box?
  • Nokia 5310 XpressMusic
  • 860 mAH Li-Ion battery
  • 1GB microSD card
  • Nokia hands-free headset with controller
  • MicroUSB cable
  • Manual


The 5310’s look is very playful and appears to be directed towards the younger users. It’s mainly decked in black and dark gray but two strips, on both side of the display, are colored. They give the phone a nice touch and there’s a choice between purple, red, and orange. Even though it’s made of plastic, it has a nice feeling to it and doesn’t slide around.

With a dimension of 4.1 x 1.8 x 0.4 inches (103.6 x 44.5 x 9.7mm), it’s quite small and we did find it a little odd to hold at times. Adjusting the hand or the position of the handset helped though.

You can compare the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Of course, its small size does take a toll on other aspects. Firstly, its display measures in at only 2 inches. Still, it’s one amazing screen. Colors were realistic and sharp, and we had absolutely no problems seeing what was on it in even the brightest environments. So that there is no constant adjusting of the brightness level, there is a sensor located just above the display next to the speaker.

Just to the left of the display are the control buttons for the media player. They’re quite small but fall perfectly within reach when held in the upper part of the hand. They’re easy to press and give back a slight feedback as well.

Below the display is the keypad with a very traditional layout, nothing fancy here. The keys are the second thing to suffer from the size of the handset and their surface doesn’t help them much. We had a rather hard time distinguishing them apart when texting. When we did, each one is slightly round and the slippery surface makes it easy for the finger to roll off and press the button just above or below it.

When we were writing a message, each one was slightly round and the slippery surface made it easy for the finger to roll off and press the button just above or below it.

The right side houses the volume rocker and strap hole while the left holds only the charger slot. The top is where you’ll conveniently find the 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB slot, and power button. The cover for the microUSB slot was frustratingly hard to open and then keep from trying to recede back into its spot. On the back, there’s only the 2.0MP camera module at the top and the loudspeaker at the bottom.

It was very disappointing to find that there is no dedicated camera shortcut button (though one can be set) and that the microSD slot is located under the battery cover. Luckily, it is not underneath the battery itself so only the cover needs to be removed when wanting to swap out the card.

Nokia 5310 XpressMusic Video Review:

Nokia 5310 XpressMusic 360 Degrees View:


While the 5310 uses only the 3rd Edition Series 40 user interface, it’s not a smartphone so Symbian might just be overkill for this handset’s purpose.

An „Active Standby” option, housing shortcuts and organizer information, can be visualized on the homescreen. If you are a fan of the simpler view, you will only see the options of the soft buttons and the middle of the D-pad.

By default, the main menu is visualized as a 3x3 grid, but you also have the option to view it as a grid with labels, a list or as tabs. In addition, the menus can be rearranged to suit your needs best. Navigating through the menus is easy, because 5310 reacts quickly to all commands. Besides being able to change the way the main menu looks like, you are able to personalize the overall appearance of the interface, by installing new themes.

There are seven sound profiles available to choose from, depending on the environment you are in. You can adjust each one’s settings, according to your needs.


The phonebook is visualized as a list with names in alphabetical order. At first, when entering a new contact, you can input two names and a phone number, but you also have the option to add more information (ringtone, video, picture, e-mail and others). This is done by choosing the “add detail” option from the menu. In addition, you can delete, move or copy all contacts from the phone to the SIM and vice versa. As in most non-smartphones, 5310 is not able to search both names of a contact simultaneously. You have to choose either the first or the second name.


The organizer offers the functions standard for a Series 40 phone: Alarm, Calendar, To-do list, Notes, synchronizer, Calculator, Countdown timer and a Timer.

There are a few options to set the alarm: time, repetition, tone, snooze time-out and repeat days. However, there is only one and you won’t be able to set few alarms for different times (and days).

The calendar can be viewed as a month or a week, with the second option also visualized as a 7-day hourly schedule. From the menu, you can go directly to the To-Do list, where you can add tasks to be completed.

The calculator has few variants – standard, loan and scientific. It has a standard interface and nothing will surprise you here.

We won’t discuss the rest of the options of the organizer, since they are standard for the Series 40 interface and because they are sufficient for a music-oriented phone.

For some of the functions, Nokia 5310 offers a system of voice commands.


The messaging menu is also typical for Nokia. From here, you can write or send an SMS, MMS, or a voice note. The T9 predictive text input system helps you for those and you can use the templates too.

It is easy to setup e-mail accounts, because the phone recognizes some of the options of the more popular web mail services, such as Gmail and Yahoo. There is no option for setting up your own account incase it doesn’t fall within any of the given providers.


The 5310 is only a tri-band (850/1800/1900) GSM handset with EDGE. While it’s no surprise that it’s not a 3G model, the fact that it is not quad-band in today’s time is a drawback.

Supplied with only a WAP browser, it’s already apparent that this is not that best cell to use for surfing the web but more-so for just quick check while on the go. Simple pages loaded fine but the more complex ones experienced a few glitches from time to time as text overlapped some images or vice versa.

To connect locally, you can either use the microUSB included in the package or pair wirelessly via Bluetooth 2.0.


Since it is a music-oriented phone, 5310 has to provide excellent music quality.

While there is no dedicated button to open up the media player, one can be programmed or a shortcut can be placed on the home screen.

From the music player menu, you can see all tracks, your playlists, you can sort them by artist, album, genre or take a look at the videos available. Naturally, there’s an option for the player to work in the background, so you can use the rest of the functions in the meantime.

The interface is designed to be user-friendly. In its upper part, there is an indicator of the track number of the song currently playing. Underneath, is the album cover or just empty space if such is not available. In the lower part of the screen, we have the track info, including the total and the elapsed time, accompanied by the progress bar. The bottom is reserved for the indicators.

There are no up/down arrows depicted anywhere, which to correspond to the same directions on the D-pad, but they actually have functions. Pressing up, will take you back to the musical menu and down will visualize the playlist with the song currently playing.

In addition, from the settings, you can activate the equalizer and/or the stereo widening function, which to enhance the sound.

Besides the music player, Nokia 5310 offers a built-in FM radio with RDS support. Before turning the radio on, you need to plug the earphones in, because they act as an antenna. You can store a total of 20 stations, also being able to change their names and the order, in which they appear. You have the option to program all stations available, input a specific frequency or to search for all the stations in the region you are in.

The loudspeaker delivers a high-level sound, but any low frequencies are not to be heard, of course. It’s better if you use the earphones.

The interface for the video player is very similar to that of the music player. It supports both 3GP and MP4 formats which can be viewed in fullscreen as well as standard screen. To make the most out of fullscreen view, the labels for the buttons are not shown but they still have the same functions as in standard view. Pressing the D-pad will display the control buttons. If the handset could not display the video, it would just play the sound with video icon in place of the video.

When our test videos with resolutions of 320x240 or higher did not play, we tried two other H.263 videos at a resolution of 176x144 at 15 and 25fps and they worked just fine.


Almost as important as the media player is the 2.0MP camera that the 5310 comes with. It does lack autofocus and a flash and the interface is what is expected from a Series 40 device. There are a few options, such as white balance and effect, but nothing overly exciting.

The photo quality leaves much to be desired. Colors tend to look very artificial in even the best of conditions and came out either over or under exposed. We noticed plenty of noise in less detailed objects along with edges that were slightly blurry. Another disappointment is that it takes 5-8 seconds for the photo to save.

Videos are captured in only QCIF resolutions making them almost unsuitable for any purpose. To record longer videos, there is an option to keep recording until there is no more memory left.


Like most of the phones with Series 40 interface, 5310 XpressMusic also comes preloaded with some programs, which can be found in the collection menu within the games and apps menu. There are four games preloaded but they’re only demos as usual.


Apart from the sluggish performance of the camera, the rest was a breeze. It took the handset a few seconds to load the content of the memory card but this is to be expected when loading close to 1GB of data.

Sound quality is so-so. Our voices kept going between clear and muffled without any changes on our end and we found ourselves having to repeat parts of the conversation from time to time. Voices from the other side came through loud and clear for us.

Volume was not an issue on either side. Even though we came through muffled, our voices were still very loud. Thanks to the speaker on the back, music came through very loudly. Just incase the lowest setting is too loud, messing around with the equalizer allows you to bring it down even lower.

The 5310 is rated for 4 hours and 18 minutes of talk time thanks to its 860 mAH Li-Ion battery but we were about to squeeze out 5 hours and 15 minutes of talk time. Not bad at all. Of course, you’re all wondering how well it holds up with music. We’re glad to say that we listened to music for nine hours straight with lots of texting and still had enough battery life to make it through the rest of the day without a low battery warning. We also made sure to use it extensively for the rest of the time.

The 5310 was tested around the Chicago area and reception was generally good. It didn’t perform too great in the basement test and tended to lose signal easily there. Outside, it was much better and we experienced no dropped calls.


For a music handset, this was one enjoyable little model. Its small size made it great for day-to-day use and storage without getting in the way. The battery had more than enough juice to keep it going throughout the day without dying on us.

Sadly, the photo quality is very lacking and the sound issues might keep it from being a really consideration, especially when considering other phones out there that can do the same for better. However, if it’s a music-oriented phone that you’re looking for, it would be a real shame to pass this one up.


  • Great media player
  • Dedicated music controls
  • Long battery life
  • Good sound quality when listening to music
  • Small size
  • Brightness of the display, even in very bright environments


  • Outgoing sound quality
  • Photo quality
  • Only tri-band
  • Can be uncomfortable to hold at times
  • Location of microSD slot
  • MicroUSB slot is rather hard to open and keep opened
  • WAP Browser

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