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By Thomas McKinnon 16 September 2009

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The Nokia 5630 Xpressmusic is one of three devices given “Comes with Music” status by Nokia, which basically allows you unrestricted access to the Nokia Music Store for a year. But that’s not the only reason we would recommend the device.

Look past the cover

The look of the device isn’t particularly inspiring, although we must say it is rather slim at just 12 mm thick. Its classic design, plain styling and slim profile make it rather comfortable in hand or in pocket.

As an Xpressmusic device its music controls, located on the left side of its display, are easy to use and always within reach of either your right forefinger or your left thumb. Its camera button is a little discreet though, on the bottom right side of the case. Removing a microSD card, the port located just above the camera button, is also bit of a pain in the backside.

While music is one of the phone’s strongpoints, its screen isn’t. At 2.2" this 240 x 320 QVGA screen is just too small to browse the web or watch video comfortably. It is worth noting that the display does its job though, visible in even the brightest conditions.

Despite its rather ordinary looks and disappointing display the 5630 is a powerful smartphone. It supports HSDPA 3G, Wi-Fi connectivity and N-Gage gaming. It also comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera, runs on Symbian S60 v9.3 and has an impressive ARM 11 600 MHz processor putting it right up there with some of the most powerful processors currently available in smartphones.  

Music

While the music player is the standard one you find in all S60 devices it’s more than competent for the job and incredibly easy to use. As you’d expect on a music device, you get a 3.5 mm jack, to go with your hardware controls, so you can plug in your own headphones. Beyond the music player, music applications available on the handset include an FM radio, a music search function, a recorder and of course Nokia Music Store access.

What really impressed us was the device’s audio quality. You expect good quality in a music-centric device but the 5630 really delivered with a decent onboard speaker too. We could happily listen to music using just the onboard speaker.

Usability

As the 5630 runs on Symbian S60 v9.3, you will notice a few changes to the Nokia standby screen and UI in general. You now get a favourite Contacts list complete with the contact’s name and photo. One-touch access to emails, the web, music and other multimedia applications is also present on the standby screen.

The device’s menu layout was logical and finding applications or folders was uncomplicated, that’s if you’re used to using a Nokia device. You’ll also notice that moving through applications and menus is lightening quick due to the Symbian OS and powerful processor. This is especially noticeable when scrolling through your pictures.

One thing that we really enjoyed about the interface was the ability to manage connections as you open apps that require a data connection. With so many connectivity options available to you on the device, this makes it a lot easier to control your data usage, either through the 3G connection or on your local WLAN.

Other features

Despite its entertainment focus the 5630 also offers a number of business applications. A calendar, Zip application, notes, converter, Adobe PDF reader, calculator, a dictionary and an office docs viewer are all there.

On the gaming side we were a little disappointed that Nokia neglected to preinstall a single game. The device does support N-Gage though, which means you’ll have to pay for your games. On the positive side there was an activation code for a game in the box which means you do at least get one freebie. We were left wondering when “Comes With Games” would be released though.

While the 5630 offers a decent 3.2 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, we were a little perturbed by the lack of an auto-focus feature. This makes taking pics a real hassle and really affects the quality of the pictures you can take on the go.

Another thing we found rather confusing was the packaged USB cable. As you can sync your downloaded music with a single PC, under the “Comes With Music” DRMs, and seeing as the handset can be charged via USB, we assumed that a decent data cable would come standard with the device. Instead we got a ridiculously short (12 cm long) data cable packaged with the phone.

Final word

Nokia’s “Comes With Music” is such a ridiculously good offer that it is difficult to pay much attention to the hardware that comes with the package. The 5630 stands out as a smartphone however. It looks plain, has a gimmick free interface and could have been better on a number of fronts but it works well because of all this simplicity. Its price can’t be faulted either.

PROS
Comes With Music. Lightening quick interface.
CONS
Its case feels plasticy. It lacks auto-focus on its camera.
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