Compared with Sony Ericsson's rapid-fire succession of Walkman phones, Nokia's XpressMusic roll-out has been distinctly low-key, with just a handful of models sporting Nokia's music-majoring label.
Now, with the launch of Nokia's Comes With Music unlimited music download service, and its soon-to-arrive 5800 XpressMusic touchscreen smartphone, the spotlight is starting to shine on Nokia's mobile music line-up.
But as well as the top-of-the bill devices and services, Nokia is continuing to plug away at the lower end, with the 5220 XpressMusic one of Nokia's latest low-cost newcomers.
Budget music mobile phone
Like the 5310 XpressMusic, Nokia's debut Comes With Music device, the 5220 doesn't have a wow-inducing set of high-end features – it lacks 3G connectivity, for instance, and has a pretty ordinary 2-megapixel camera built in.
Instead, though, the 5220 XpressMusic's appeal is based on getting the tune-playing performance right in an attractively slim design, and throwing in some decent additional features.
The XpressMusic family look is obvious on this model, with the usual black bodywork with sharply contrasting electric blue or red trim, plus dedicated music player controls lined up the side of the display. But Nokia has given the 5220 XpressMusic a very distinctive twist.
The body has an unusual asymmetrical design, with a sloping top and bottom that gives the phone a kind of funky retro-modern feel (Sagem did something similar with some of its phones back in the late 90s).
It's skinny too. Those variable sloped-shoulder dimensions work out at around 108(h) x 43.5(w) x 10.5(d) mm, and weighing a mere 78g it will slip easily into the tightest pockets. Another design touch is a strap hole in the bottom corner of the phone, for those who want to dangle rather than pocket their handset.
Handy headphone socket
It has an adequate 2-inch, 256K-colour QVGA (320x240 pixels) display, and the numberpad is well designed, with well spread, slightly raised buttonry that's pleasingly responsive. It feels quite solid too, despite its glossy plastic fascia.
One very welcome touch is the inclusion of a proper 3.5mm headphone socket on the top of the phone.
While this should be normal practice for any would-be music phone, it's often overlooked, but it gives you the scope to improve audio performance significantly by simply adding better earphones.
Nokia user interface
The 5220 XpressMusic runs on Nokia's commonly used Series 40 user interface, so will be familiar to many Nokia devotees. Its standby screen has a row of changeable Active Standby shortcut icons that at a click give you fast access to key features and applications.
There are also separate information updates lined up on the screen, plus music player and FM radio status info, so you can operate these from standby with the music buttons – play/pause forward and rewind – on the edge of the phone.
Other softkey shortcuts are to hand as well, while the main menu system is typical Nokia, too, operated mainly with the phone's nicely usable central navigation pad, and with an icon-based grid structure leading you into a host of sub menus.
Easy access music player
It's an XpressMusic phone, so the music player is of course the headline act. It can be fired up and worked by pressing the illuminated control buttons on the side, or (the long way around) by popping into the menus.
When it's playing onscreen, the central navigation pad doubles up as a control panel, in a way that's standard across Nokia handsets.
The main benefit of the dedicated controls is when the music player's running in the background; it's easier to use these than keep tapping back into the menus.
(Review Page 1 of 1)