I’m not sure how I, the gadget-meister, never knew about this, but Nokia’s WOMWorld actually sends users one of their phones to try for 2 weeks at a time, at no cost. Anyway, a staffer there found me on Twitter yapping about Nokias, so she asked if I would try one of their phones. Of course I said “YES!” Before you call me a sell-out, let me say that I’m not paid by them in any way, and there’s no obligation on my side to write a positive review.
Given that we focus on travel in our family blog, I wanted to highlight some features from my first trial phone, the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music phone with 3.2″ touch screen (In fact, it’s Nokia’s first touchscreen smartphone). This is in no way a comprehensive or comparative technical review, so I’d recommend www.gsmarena.com for terrific technical reviews. I will, however, point out what I think are useful, cool, and travel friendly features–these features may or may not be unique to this phone.
Travel Essentials in a Phone:
- It must be an Unlocked phone, meaning that it is not tied to a carrier, and you can drop in any GSM network SIM card worldwide and it will work. If you have a T-mobile or AT&T phone in the U.S., then they are GSM phones-that will need to be unlocked to be used in other markets. Most new GSM phones are ‘Quad’ band phones, which means you can makes calls in any country’s GSM network. We used an HTC Tytn II phone during our last Thailand trip, and worked fine with a local SIM card. I popped in my T-Mobile SIM & the 5800 worked well with good call quality & speaker phone. In fact, most high end Nokias are only sold as unlocked phones in the U.S. market, which is why you don’t see much Nokia marketing in N. America-since they are not married to any carrier. However, Nokia still has the largest cell phone market globally.
- Built-in GPS: A few weeks ago, Nokia made their OVI maps + Voice guided Navigation FREE to existing models with built-in GPS. You must have a data plan to use GPS, so I went ahead and signed up for $24.99 unlimited data with T-mobile. The OVI navigation feature worked wonderfully. One thing it could not do was to show a preview of the entire route- apparently you can see this on the desktop version of OVI maps. <Confused look?> Any stand alone GPS unit can show you the route before you venture out, so this is a huge omission. In any case, our Magellan GPS took a hiatus in the glove box for 2 weeks. Download the maps (hundreds to choose from worldwide) to the 8GB (included) memory card, then choose the navigation voice, available in many languages and both genders. Our favorite voice was the “surfer dude”. Finally, a navigation device that is fun-I was LOL by myself in the car. Emma loved it too! Someone has to add celebrity voices to navigation devices. Nokia, are you listening? How about Clint Eastwood, or Jessica Rabbit?
Here were some phrases we heard while driving about:
“Turn left. Not MY Left dude, YOUR left”
“The GPS signal is wacked, …”
“You’ve exceeded the maximum speed limit. What’s your hurry, dude?”
“You’ve reached your destination,
but no need to thank me dude, it’s what I do.”
- Music & Podcasts: with 8 GB on board, even after loading maps, there’s plenty of space for music and videos. The music quality was excellent when hooked up to my car. I created playlists for everyone in the family, and is great for long trips. There’s also built in FM, as well as podcasts. I normally would download he podcasts via wifi in the morning, then listen to them on my commute. Some of my favorites were the Buzz report from CNET, This week in Tech (TWIT), and BBC’s global news.
- Games & Apps: Okay, we all know the iphone and even Android phones dominate the phone applications market, but the humble OVI store is slowly coming along. The games are great for use when killing time at airports, and provides emergency entertainment for our Emma when she’s bored. Our favorite games include ‘Labyrinth” where you till the phone to get a ball to drop in the final hole in a variety of mazes. I also found a ‘flashlight’ app- where a switch turns on the camera’s LED flash like a flashlight. Very handy! Yes, this phone has an accelerometer as well as touch screen, so many apps will take advantage of these features.
Well, these were a few highlights of the phone. It worked reliably, and I was never bored with it. I took ‘okay’ pictures, good enough for capturing moments and sending them to Facebook. I might seriously consider this model when before we take off for Thailand. With a local SIM card plus a data plan I can see myself using this phone especially for the OVI maps. They are THAT good.
I’m eagerly awaiting my next trial phone, the Nokia E75, a non-touch screen business oriented phone, with the slide-out qwerty keypad. I’ll take that phone on my impending trip to New York City for a weekend conference. I’ll post a full report of that trip, along with comments about my new tech companion. Can’t wait!