Review: Nokia 5300
At first glance, the 5300 comes across as non-assuming and almost cheap-looking. Its simple design is more subtle than you might think, however. When you take a closer look, the white, silver, and colored plastics set the 5300 apart from the bland all-black or all-silver clones of many phones out there. Though our review unit came with a black strip across the center section of the phone, the white bands on either side of the black still manage to make it distinct. The center section of the 5300 also comes in a shade of purple. The central colored area is made from a textured paint that you feel when you hold it. Overall, the first impression leaves the words sporty, young, and hip in our minds.
The 5300 has buttons protruding from its sides, which are in the colorized section of the phone. These buttons are the volume keys (on the right) and music player buttons (on the left). There are three buttons for the music player, rewind, play/pause, and fast-forward. The actual buttons are raised "dashes" under a semi-hard rubber coating and measure about 5mm x 1mm. There is no seam around the buttons. There is just enough travel in the buttons and a nice "click" that you feel in your fingers when the buttons are pushed.
On the left side you'll also find the headphone jack, and on the right side is the camera key. Like the volume buttons, it is protected by the rubber coating, but instead of being a little dash, it's actually a rectangle rimmed with a rubbery ridge. You have to press the camera button firmly to activate the camera.
Despite its compact size, the 5300 is a hair heavier than you expect it to be, but not egregiously so. As you hold it you'll notice little bumps jabbing you in the hand. The bottom of the phone has four tiny nubs so that when you set it on a level surface, the back of the phone is raised slightly above that surface. (We'll explain further in the music section.)
When the 5300 is closed, the keypad is hidden, but you have access to the D-pad and four functions keys. Similar to the buttons on the side, the four function keys have large, raised dashes to help you find them with your thumb; but there is no fake rubber coating here. The buttons have a nice action to let you know that you've pressed them. The D-pad bordered on loud. Using it to scroll through menus produced an audible clicking sound. Its raised exterior rim kept our thumbs on target as we moved it around.
The camera and speaker are located on the back of the phone. The camera is in the top-left corner and a little vanity mirror is next to it so you can add yourself to pictures. The speaker is represented by 8 little cut-out dashes toward the bottom of the phone that are about the same size as the buttons found on the 5300's side.
On the top of the 5300 is the power button, USB port and charge port. Right next to the USB port is the slot where you stick your fingernail to pry off the back cover. Access to the back cover is important with the 5300, as the microSD slot is underneath the battery cover. The battery itself covers the SIM card, but the microSD is on the side of the phone. Once you have the back cover off, it is easily accessed. Getting that cover off is difficult, though. After some trials and tribulations, we discovered it was best to slide the phone open before attempting to remove the back cover.
The slider mechanism worked smoothly. Just a little bit of upward or downward pressure with your thumb pops it up or down with the help of the spring. With the phone open, it still feels well balanced and doesn't become top or bottom heavy. One complaint about the slider is that there was a little bit of side-to-side play between the two halves of the phone. With the phone closed, we're talking about 2mm of sideways movement.
The silver keypad is evenly spaced and the numbers feature a pleasant blue backlight. The 12 buttons are a nice width and height. The buttons are rectangular, and each has a raised oval on it to help you differentiate between the buttons when you slide your thumb across them. There was less travel with the keypad buttons than the function keys, but it was still satisfying.
With the 5300 in the open position, you'll see that the back cover of the top half has a silver metal plate with "Nokia 5300 XpressMusic" etched into the metal. A nice, subtle touch.