Nokia has resurrected a lot of 90’s devices in the past and thus sparking the “Throwback” “Nostalgic Device” sentiment amongst the consumers. Joining this segment of phones is the Nokia 5310 the 2020 edition, which we have known as the ‘XpressMusic’ phone from Nokia back in the days.
The Nokia 5310 is a feature phone and is trying to find a spot in the market of bezel-less high refresh rate smartphones that are even more powerful than most laptops these days. Seems like the Nokia 5310 used a time machine to travel to the future and now trying to fit in (Obligatory ‘Dark’ reference).
The T9 keyboard on the 5310 is just so refreshing and I actually loved typing on it, I just hope the device had support for Whatsapp and I could try out instant messaging on the T9 keyboard. And the Snake game just brought back the child in me. Honestly, I couldn’t use the Nokia 5310 as my daily driver because of a major issue that this device has and we are going to discuss that below in the performance section.
So, there’s a lot to talk about the device, and let’s just get into it and get started with a comprehensive review of the Nokia 5310. So give it a read.
Design and Display
The Nokia 5310 is built along with the same design language as of the old 5130 XpressMusic, A shiny red ascent with a subtle matte black body. Honestly, you won’t be able to differentiate much with the Nokia 5310. The device is mostly made of plastic and has a matter finish grip to it and it feels super comfortable to hold. I just wish all current smartphones could be so compact with a matte finish design. And then we never would have to worry about devices being fingerprint management.
We get a T9 keyboard at the front and it is a backlit keyboard and feels super sturdy to type on, and the keyboard has the same clicky feel it used to have. There are rubber strips on the sides of the phone which have the mighty music playback buttons on the right and volume rocker buttons on the left.
The volume buttons can be used to do change the volume levels obviously, but it works contextually for different apps. For example, The sound settings for a particular app will only change when you are accessing that particular app. So if you want to change the volume of music that’s playing on your device, you will have to open the music or FM Radio app.
There is nothing on the bottom of the phone while there is a Micro USB port at the top with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Also, the back panel is removable and you can remove/replace the battery and also access the sim card and the micro sd card. Good Old Days.
Talking about the display, it features a 2.4-inch QVGA display and the resolution of the screen remains unchanged compared to the Nokia 5310, but the display is slightly bigger than its ancestor. The display is not big of a deal here on this device, as its a feature phone and display doesn’t really matter IMHO. But whatever it has it is great and gets the job done.
Never Ending Battery
Talking about the battery of the Nokia 5310, you get a 1200mAh battery. These numbers don’t seem exciting for smartphones but for a feature phone this size of the battery is pretty overkill. We might have become habitual of measuring the battery endurance and the screen on times, and that just ranges to a few hours averaging to about 5 hours. But the Nokia 5310 is an exceptional smartphone and here we are not measuring battery life in hours, the appropriate unit here is ‘Days’ and not ‘hours’. But In fact, I had to charge the phone just twice in about a week of usage. Nokia claims you can manage to get about 22-30 days worth backup on standby. Moreover, the battery is removable so you can quickly swap it out if you have a spare battery at hand.
XpressMusic and FM Radio
The highlight of the Nokia 5310 is definitely music and that’s the reason it carried an XpressMusic tag to it. Not sure why Nokia dropped it from 5310. The audio output of the device with its dual front-facing speakers is exceptionally loud, I have honestly never seen/heard any device get this louder.
And the fact that the FM Radio works on this device without any external antenna or the earpiece to be plugged in, it is a great media device. You get a neat widget on the home screen when you’re playing via the music player and the Radio app. However, the easiest way to control the playback and the volume will always be with the help of the phone’s standout features, the dedicated buttons.
TLDR: Camera is definitely not the key highlight of the device and it’s brutal to keep any expectations from Nokia 5310 in terms of camera.
The Nokia 5310 features a VGA camera at the back that is accompanied by a flash, which comes in as a new addition compared to the ancestor. We had no hopes after checking the specs sheet and found that it had a VGA camera but we still tried it out and here are some of the camera samples of the device. These all shots were captured in bright daylight and the night shots were definitely not worth sharing.
Honestly, I was expecting at least a 2MP camera on this. For some context, the original Nokia 5130 was launched with a 2-megapixel sensor in 2009. Though, the presence of a VGA camera is still isn’t a deal-breaker here. Most people will not be using this feature phone as their primary or even secondary camera.
Performance and Software
Ideally, this section should not be there in this review as its a feature phone and performance cannot be measured as there are not many apps or graphic-intensive games to test out.
The Nokia 5310 found a spot as my secondary goto device that I usually play along through the day, and out of curiosity, I wanted to try out a life without social media apps and Wi-Fi connection. And I also wanted to put-in my sim to test out calling and other features, but unfortunately, I only have Reliance Jio SIM cards and 4G does not work on the Nokia 5310, and in my opinion that’s the biggest let down of the device. No 4G in 2020 is simply not acceptable as that’s the gold standard for years and many telecom operators have stopped servicing or providing 2G connectivity. Even the Reliance Jio phone that costs almost half to the Nokia 5310 features 4G connectivity along with VoLTE and support for Wi-Fi connectivity.
Apart from all this, the overall performance of the device is super smooth, sometimes its feels so surreal that the app opening and loading times are so short the I feel that modern OS like Android and iOS are not half as fast as this. The device comes loaded with all the necessary apps like calculator, Facebook, Internet Browser to name a few. There’s also an App Store to download more apps and games.
Talking about the games, the Nokia 5310 comes pre-installed with the iconic Snake game that was the best game that people in the ’90s and early 20s could enjoy. The Snake on the Nokia 5310 has evolved a lot from the past 8-bit gaming experience and its much more refined now, and still as addictive as it used to be. There are quite a few more games such as Assasins Creed and Doodle Jump, who’s only a short free trial is available for free and a premium version needs to be purchased.
The Bottom Line
The Nokia 5310 is a great feature phone that is built well and excels in providing a great music experience along with a never-ending battery. The phone’s specifications are not particularly impressive even for a feature-phone and the price tag of Rs. 3,399, the Nokia 5310 isn’t too expensive considering the brand value and the XpressMusic features it carries. But when we compare the device to the competition, it definitely does not stand out. For instance, the Jio Phone has LTE support and a 2-megapixel rear camera, and that too at half the price.
The Nokia 5310 is not a bad device, it has some great features and it’s build quality and design is on par compared to the competition. But the device is relying a lot on the Nostalgia factor. So, if you are in the market looking for a good feature phone that is built well and you are nostalgic about the device and are really excited about the Resurrection of the Nokia XpressMusic series then you should definitely buy the Nokia 5310.