ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday January 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 33

Phone for thought

Boy Toys by Ding

I manage to break things. And the Nokia 5300 XpressMusic phone which I bought was no exception. I managed to put it in my pocket with some loose change, and some "undesirable" metal objects, and now there's a massive scratch on the screen surface. This, plus the need to get a phone with 3G, made me look around for another good, music-oriented mobile phone. And two phones caught my eye.

Nokia 5610 XpressMusic – Another member of Nokia's XpressMusic line, the 5610 was launched at the end of last year. It's a slider phone, much like the current 5300 that I have. Features include an autofocus 3.2 Mega-pixel camera with flash, upto 4GB of expandable storage space and dedicated music keys. It's running version 3 Nokia's S40 operating system with Flash Lite, and has Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, and a v2.0 microUSB port for fast data transfers. The phone seems very solidly built, and the music keys on the side are nimble and easy to use. Camera quality is very impressive, and the macro function lets you take pictures of close objects.

The other phone was the Nokia N81 8GB – One of the newest members of the Nokia N-series phone family, the N81 is a slider phone running version 9.1 of Nokia's S60 Symbian operating system. The phone comes with a 2.0 Mega-pixel camera, and has Bluetooth, 3G and WiFi connectivity, a microUSB port for data transfers, and quite like the 5610, music keys which can be accessed from the front of the phone which can be used to control the music player. It also has a hefty 8GB hard disk, like the 4GB one we saw in the Nokia N91.

It's quite like the Nokia N95, both in features and build quality. In the review of the 5300, I was a bit critical about the build quality of the N95 when it came to comparing the slider mechanism. The slider action of the N95 and the phone itself, didn't feel solid.

The same applies to the N81. Every time you slide the phone into the open or closed positions, you are in fear of breaking it. Not the result you expect after paying a hefty sum for such a phone.

So here's the argument. On one hand is the well built feature packed 5610, and on the other is a immensely spacious and chic looking N81. But the N81 at 70k is an enormous 30k more expensive than the 5610. One (5610) is a dedicated music phone, and the other is a dedicated, erm… something (it's actually supposed to be a Multi media phone, but that logic is beyond my comprehension).

I did a bit of desk research with my friends who have large capacity phones. And on average, the space used for music was 1GB, in spite of actual phone capacity. And then, the choice becomes obvious. It's 5610 all the way. And if you want a multi media phone with the same connectivity options as the N81, buy a PDA!

Which one would you buy? Let us know by popping an email to, along with suggestions for future reviews.

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