Released in November 2009 the Nokia 5230 Nuron which is originally targeted specifically at T-mobile users features a widescreen touch sensitive display and stylish design. Since the Nokia 5230 Nuron phone is not really a top of the line high performance smartphone, it leaves one to guess how Nokia has packed in this many features at a price that is friendly for the low end of the market.
Nokia achieves this feat by stripping down some of the phone’s features in a subtle way. The Nuron is still fun and functional and it makes the user stand out in the crowd. All at one low price.
Let us see exactly what the Nokia Nuron brings to the table by looking first at the design.
Design (4 out of 5)
The Nokia 5230 Nuron could be mistaken for a being a cross between the Nokia 5800 and the Nokia N97 at first glance, but taking a closer look you’ll notice that this phone is in a league of its own. The first focus is the choice of black or white color scheme for this phone.
The phone comes with a 3.2 inch TFT resistive touchscreen that is 360 x 640 pixels in resolution. The Nokia 5230 Nuron is a full touchscreen phone, meaning there is no full hardware QWERTY keyboard or number pad available. Below the touchscreen there are the three softkeys for accessing the basic functions – call begin, call end and menu functions. Above the touchscreen there is the ear piece and two sensors.
The top of the phone is fitted with a Micro-USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a power connector, and a power button. It is a little bit too cramped for comfort and that seems to be a trend picked up from the XpressMusic phones like the Nokia 5800.
The right side of the Nokia 5230 Nuron is reserved for the volume rocker, the camera button and the screen-lock switch, while the left side has the microSD card slot and the SIM card slot. The SIM card can only be removed after the battery has been taken out. You then need to use a pointed device to release the SIM card. The bottom of the phone has the microphone and the back has the battery compartment and the 2MP camera that comes minus the LED Flash which is another obvious downgrade on the Nokia 5230 Nuron.
The Nokia 5230 Nuron measures in at 111 x 51.7 x 15.5 mm with a weight of 115g. This means that this phone is a good size and comfortable to handle and tuck away into your pockets. It also feels quite rigid when held firmly.
User Interface (3 out of 5)
Being a Symbian S60 5th Edition phone, the Nokia 5230 Nuron is not expected to bring much to the table on top of what is already offered on other Symbian S60 5th Edition smartphones. So we start off with the home screen. Even though it looks all too familiar, there are subtle differences to improve on the usability of the homescreen. There is a shorcut bar that gives quick access to your common programs which can be user configured. You can also set up a contacts shortcut bar which gives one click access to contact information. Below the Contacts bar, the Home screen makes available a feed of the calendar functions such as events, appointments and to do items.
Another feature available on the home screen is the status of the radio or music player, which shows what station is being played and which song is being listened to. The Nokia 5230 Nuron also provides a media key with a single tap function to access Ovi.com, the music and video player and social networking sites.
Just like the tradition Nokia S60 menu navigation, this one comes in a grid layout or list view for personal convenience. Through the menu you can access any application on the phone. For typing functions the Nokia Nuron provides the virtual full QWERTY keyboard and the virtual number pad all sensitive to the Accelerometer.
In general the user interface is easy to use and quite intuitive. Anyone used to using Nokia phones will not have problems navigating the Nokia 5230 Nuron’s menus.
Features (3 out of 5)
The Nokia 5230 Nuron comes a little stripped down of features paving the way to making it an affordable phone. The phone comes with a 434 MHz processor. Messaging functions such as SMS, MMS and email remain untouched and function as expected. The phone comes fitted with an IM browser a full HTML browser and support for RSS feeds.
There is a MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV video player, a MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player and a Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS. Nokia Maps 2.0 Touch comes with the Nokia 5230 Nuron and can be upgraded to Ovi Maps 3 for free, giving free voice guided turn-by-turn navigation for free using the in-built A-GPS receiver.
The phone comes with a 2MP, 1600 x 1200 pixels camera that supports recording of video in VGA format at 30fps. There is no LED flash with this camera so in poor lighting conditions you will not get a good picture out of this phone. There is also no secondary camera with the Nokia 5230 Nuron.
As for connectivity and data, the Nokia 5230 Nuron supports GPRS and EDGE both being class 32. 3G HSDPA 3.6 Mbps, Bluetooth and USB are all also supported. This phone does not come with Wi-Fi so data connectivity is restricted to GPRS, EDGE and 3G. Additionally there is an organizer and a photo editor. Flash lite 3.0 comes installed.
Call and voice functions include voice memo, voice recognition and voice dialing. Text input includes handwriting recognition and text input auto complete. The phone is able to make voice calls without prerecording voices to be attached to contacts.
Internal memory on the Nokia 5230 Nuron includes 70 MB with 128 MB RAM and capacity for up to 16GB through microSD. Nokia has held back on the internal memory on this phone but with the 16GB microSD card capacity, the internal memory becomes insignificant.
Do not be fooled by the stripping down of features on the Nokia 5230 Nuron. The phone still remains functional and additional capabilities can be added through downloading and installing additional applications, and that is the key to the phone’s usability.
Performance (3 out of 5)
Call quality on the Nokia 5230 Nuron is pretty amazing. Nokia seems to have done something right here. Even in a crowded place, the call quality remains great and muffles out the background sounds. This quality is great on both ends of the line.
3G speeds are quite good. Remember there is no Wi-Fi with this phone. This means all data must be routed through the T-mobile network. Unfortunately the web browser is not the best. It is high time Nokia steps up its game as far as its web browser is concerned. The browser on the Nokia 5230 Nuron is a bit cumbersome to use.
As far as Ovi Maps goes, it is pretty swift and accurate. Zeroing in on the satellites is a little bit slow at times but once it gets connected you are sure to get a pretty solid navigating experience. The main issue with Ovi Maps comes with the impromptu searching of addresses while on the road. It may be a little bit of a challenge at times using the virtual keys on the Nokia 5230 Nuron and it’s not a good idea to try to type in an address while driving.
The response to user input is not as blazing fast as one would want but its average performance is not unexpected as this phone was not designed as a high performance phone. In short compared to other phones like the Nokia E72 or Nokia E75, the Nokia 5230 Nuron lags behind. There is not much that can be done here as its hardware rates lower.
The touchscreen on the Nokia 5230 Nuron is quite responsive but still needs work in the actual functionality of the phone and the gestures.
The camera on the Nokia 5230 Nuron is not great at all and is not worth using. It feels like the camera is simply there as a formality rather than as a functional feature. That impression is reinforced by Nokia’s choice to strip off the LED flash.
As for battery performance, the Nokia 5230 Nuron’s talk time is rated at 7 hours. I don’t know about that but it took me a couple of days of normal use which included talking, playing games and a little GPS navigating and checking email over the phone to drain the battery.
The Verdict (3 out of 5)
When it comes down to it, the Nokia 5230 Nuron is still an amazing phone with a clearly defined market. This is a phone that has its targets set out as offering a low end phone with high end features to customers at an affordable price.
At the price of US$70 this phone is totally worth every penny. It may not have the latest in cutting edge technology and it may cost you a little more on data through 3G, since there is no Wi-Fi, but that is a small price to pay since you get free voice guided navigation in 74 countries, free service information from Michelin and Lonely Planet, and free weather and traffic updates.
The Nokia 5230 Nuron is truly a gem and Nokia seems to have hit the mark with this phone; a phone I would recommend to anyone on the T-Mobile Network seeking a serious functional phone that is fun to use.