Review: Nokia 5230 Nuron for T-Mobile
As we mentioned earlier in the week, SlashPhone received a Nokia 5230 Nuron for review. After giving it ample play time, we’ve come to a stable conclusion about the handset, and we can safely say that while the device has its limitations, we’re sure that it will make someone out there happy. But, let’s get right into it, so we can figure out if that person is you or not. Will the Nuron live up to Nokia’s hype? Or does it fall flat on its face?
The moment you take the Nuron out of the box, you’ll know it’s in your hand. It’s not necessarily all that heavy, so to speak, but considering the plastic build of the device, we would have been happier with a little bit of a lighter feel. Though, considering how thick the handset is, we can understand where the weight comes from. The 3.2-inch screen seems smaller than the specifications would suggest, and we imagine that comes from the large areas at the top and bottom, which have been reserved for the earpiece and sensors at the top, and the three hardware buttons on the bottom. Even the silver bezel seems thick on the sides, only aiding in the illusion that the screen is smaller than it really is.
As for the hardware keys, there’s quite a few on the Nuron. You’ve got the three main keys on the front of the device: Send, End, and the button that calls up the main menu. Just above the screen, you have the Media Button, which, when pressed, drops down a menu that gives you quick access to media components like music, the browser, and images. Along the right side of the device is the physical camera key, the notorious Nokia “slide-to-unlock” key, and finally the volume rocker. It should also be noted that the volume rocker also works as a zoom-in-and-out function, but we could only find that it works while using the camera. It doesn’t zoom in while using the browser, for example.
At the top of the device, there’s the MicroUSB port, the 3.5mm audio jack, and an old-school Nokia power port. Which, if we’re being completely honest, we didn’t even think were being used anymore. Nokia slipped a surprise in here for us, it seems. And finally, on the left hand side of the Nuron, there’s two ports protected by removable flaps. The upper-most opening is for the SIM card, and the one below that is for the MicroSD card. We found that opening both of those flaps was a bit of a pain, and more work than was probably necessary. But, we also know that people aren’t going to be opening and closing those very often, so that’s probably a non-issue.
For the general look and feel of the device, we can’t really dock Nokia any points. The device looks like a Nokia device, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. It’s shiny, which should attract several new customers, and it’s thick enough that it may not worry many people who are notorious for dropping their phones. All in all, even if it is too thick and heavy for us, we don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing for most customers out there. It does feel good in the pocket.
The Operating System
Symbian S60 5th Edition powers this little guy, and from the moment you turn it on, that’s more than obvious. Truth be told, it’s not going to be for everyone. Even from the pure aesthetic approach, the look alone suggests something for a kid. In this day and age of icons, widgets, and the like, the Nuron shows us that there’s still people out there that believe a more “personal approach,” if you will, is better than sleek and sophisticated. We’re not sure where we stand on this. As it stands, though, you don’t really get to appreciate the Operating System on the 5230, mainly because you’re stuck waiting more often than not.
We noticed pretty quickly that the device runs relatively slowly a lot of the time. We also noticed that this would be completely off-set by the device’s bursts of quickness, too. There’s no middle ground here. We would be waiting several seconds for the main menu to pull up from the home screen, and then later in the day find that the menu was up even before we let go of the button. We can’t quite put our finger on why the system is so off-and-on, but when it’s off, the device is almost painful to use. When it’s quick and reactive, we actually had fun watching the screen animations take us from one to another.
The title should probably be more than enough, but we’ll go ahead and expand on this. We’re not saying that resistive touchscreens are terrible, but the Nuron’s is definitely a petition in that regard. We may just be accustomed to capacitive panels, but going through menus, or even selecting options (when coupled with the lag generated by the slow processor), is aggravating. We do like, though, that while you’re selecting items in the menu, that you have to actually select something twice. So, even though you’re probably not accidentally activating anything on a resistive touchscreen, Nokia has made sure that you are absolutely sure of what you want before it activates.
Phone calls, Internet, texts, and no WiFi
We thought that not having WiFi wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it really is. Utilizing T-Mobile’s 3G network is great, but the browser on the Nuron isn’t. In fact, we really didn’t want to use it anymore after the first day. We’re not sure if jumping onto a WiFi hotspot would have made it any better, truth be told, but at least it would have been nice to try. Navigating webpages wasn’t hindered by the 3.2-inch screen. No, in this case, the processor just wouldn’t allow web surfing to be anything other than torment, as pages juttered, lagged, and completely stalled on every occasion.
Making phone calls wasn’t that bad at all, actually. The sound quality is nice, and we never dropped a call. When we ran through some noise tests, people on the other end did tell us that it was a bit hard to hear us, but that’s not surprising considering the device doesn’t do anything to minimize that kind of interference. The coverage in our area is pretty well established, and we made note of the Nuron’s ability to stick with the highest available signal, making all our voice calls pristine.
Text messages are a big part of cellphone usage. It’s no different for us, and that’s why we gave texting a real shot on the Nuron. However, we just had to stop doing it. The keyboard, while in portrait mode, is usable, but there’s no full QWERTY. It’s just the standard option for phones, with the number pad. You have the option to use T9 while you tap along, so that helps a bit, but the screen is just not forgiving. If you use your fingernail, you can probably get some speed out of it. And then there’s the landscape QWERTY keyboard. We don’t have the world’s skinniest fingers, but we don’t think even that would help the typing experience on this device. It’s just not fun, to put it plainly. The phone’s features work in conjunction to make it an experience we don’t recommend to anyone, so maybe you should stick to the voice calls.
In the initial post, we said that this phone isn’t meant to blow your mind. We also said that this is probably the perfect device for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money. Well, both those things are still true, but we should also note that the $69.99 that T-Mobile is selling the device for on a new, two-year contract is simply too much money. This needed to be a free phone. Especially with the lack of WiFi. There’s no way around it. And, to be be perfectly honest with you, we can’t recommend spending the $70. There’s other options, for just a bit more money, that will make you a lot happier than this device will.
If you have any specific questions regarding the Nokia 5230 Nuron, please let us know in the comments. We will be sure to answer them to the best of our ability.
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