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Nokia 5530 XpressMusic review

How does Nokia's budget touchscreen phone compare?

The Nokia 5530 XpressMusic
The Nokia 5530 XpressMusic

Our Verdict

Overall, the price point of £130 for a touchscreen smartphone can't be beaten, and despite a few niggles it still performs very well.


  • Low cost
  • Easy to user interface
  • Nice menu transitions
  • On board stylus


  • Poor call quality and coverage
  • Average camera
  • No 3G on board
  • Rattling keyguard slider

TechRadar Verdict

Overall, the price point of £130 for a touchscreen smartphone can't be beaten, and despite a few niggles it still performs very well.


  • + Low cost
  • + Easy to user interface
  • + Nice menu transitions
  • + On board stylus


  • - Poor call quality and coverage
  • - Average camera
  • - No 3G on board
  • - Rattling keyguard slider

Nokia might have been late to the touchscreen game, but it's making up for lost time now by following up the successful 5800 XpressMusic and N97 with the budget 5530 XpressMusic.

It's a phone not too dissimilar to the 5800 XpressMusic in shape, albeit slightly smaller with a 2.9-inch screen. It feels lightweight and the screen is noticeably smaller than other touchscreen offerings, but it doesn't feel too tiny for a touchscreen, although it's probably on the edge of what's acceptable.

It should be pointed out that this is Nokia's budget offering, coming in at a price of £129.99 from the Carphone Warehouse, and therefore some compromises will have been made to shrink the cost of the phone down while maintaining a lot of the feel of its bigger brother, the 5800 XpressMusic.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

The Nokia 5530 XpressMusic feels nice in the hand, although a little plasticky. However, that's offset by a decent weight, and a fairly well put together chassis. Put it this way - if you got this out at the pub most people wouldn't think you had paid so little for a brand new phone.

However, there is something that exposes the price - the keyguard slider switch on the side rattles whenever you shake the Nokia 5530 XpressMusic, instantly making it seem like some kind of toy handset. It's a strange thing to get wrong on an otherwise well designed phone.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

The memory card and SIM card are both accessible from the outside of the phone, without needing to remove the back cover and battery. The two cards are hidden underneath a very long hinged cover, which looks more like an extended volume button than a SIM flap.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

There's a stylus included with the Nokia 5530 XpressMusic as well, should you find your fingers aren't good enough for the screen. It can be found locked into the left hand side of the phone. We don't really like styluses (you should be able to easily touch everything on a touchscreen in our opinion) but at least it's in the chassis.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

The top houses the on/off switch, which is quite small and seems a little lonely all alone on the face - but perhaps it's being punished by Nokia for some misdemeanour on a lowly S40 device, as it's usually accompanied by a USB socket and/or a 3.5 mm jack.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

Both of those things have been moved to the bottom of the 5530 XpressMusic, and the headphone jack is particularly annoying as it takes an almost superhuman push to get your headphones to connect fully, meaning you're worried that you might break something when trying to cram it in the socket.

Other than that, there's only a small volume up/down rocker and the aforementioned rattling keyguard slider switch on the right of the device, with a camera button in the standard place. The keyguard is in quite an odd place in fact, as you have to shift your thumb up or down a fair bit to hit it accurately.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

It might just be the shape of the phone, but it's a little annoying compared to the easy-to-use nature of the N86's keyguard, for instance.

The front of the Nokia 5530 XpressMusic also holds a number of touch sensitive keys, namely call and terminate options, a menu button and a media button located at the top which calls up elements of the phone like pictures, video and music on a drop-down menu. This touch sensitive element requires a bit of a poke to get working, but that's still miles better than the 'breathe and you'll hit it' touch sensitive buttons on the LG GD900 Crystal.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

Nokia has also deigned to give us a 3.2MP camera with single LED flash on the rear of the 5530 XpressMusic, although this is a basic mobile photography effort with no sign of the Carl Zeiss that adorn the N-series handset cameras.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

The front also has a stainless steel finish (although you have to peer closely to realise it) and houses two speakers for stereo output, which work quite well and will be looked at in more detail in the media section.

In the box

Nokia is thoroughly on board the environmental train at the moment, and while it hasn't gone to the extremes of Apple or HTC in sending out its phones in tiny boxes, it has shrunk things down to include recyclable materials and less packaging.

Nokia 5530 xpressmusic

Inside the box is the phone itself (still in a cardboard holder), a 'standard' Nokia mini-pin charger (ie not microUSB as some of the Finns' phones have been recently) and a tiny, tiny microUSB cable, which is about 7cm long for some reason. We can only assume that Nokia has decided that the world is only using laptops on desks these days, as otherwise you're left with a dangling phone from your PC or Mac.

There are some OK headphones in the box as well, definitely better than the standard flat 'phones from Nokia as these are in-ear buds with some noise isolation tips, as well as a handsfree microphone in the middle. They might not be the best quality in the world, but they provide OK sound and for a £130 phone are a very welcome addition.

There's Nokia's Ovi Suite (replacing the PC suite software of old) on a mini-CD as well as an instruction manual, and Nokia has been kind enough to provide a 4GB microUSB card in the box as well.

Gareth Beavis

Global Editor-in-Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.