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Nokia 5500 Sport review

Can Nokia's new sports phone give your thumbs a decent workout?
 Handset: 5500 Sport 
 Manufacturer: Nokia 
by Dave Oliver
This smoothly contoured smart phone has stated designs on being a 'sport' model. With its hourglass shape it's got the look, but how about the muscle?

The body feels tough, trimmed with stainless steel and rubberised edges, including covered ports and a rim around the screen, which allows you to drop it face down with less risk of scratching.

There's a nice, bright flashlight on top too, activated by pressing the '*' key, which might come in handy for night-time jogging expeditions.

The battery compartment, which includes the SIM and microSD memory card (64MB, though there's also a music-centred version with 512MB and both can handle up to 1GB) is sealed, unusually, with a screw, though this can be undone with a coin or tough fingernail.

The keypad buttons are rubberised too and have a spongy feel, requiring a fair amount of pressure to trigger, but the backlight is particularly bright and clear. The nav pad meanwhile is a joy to use – it looks like a joystick within a square, but this turns out to be just a central activate button, and the sides of the square are the direction keys – quite sensitive and easy for big and small thumbs alike.

The screen offers over 262,000 colours and is sharp and clear with a fair degree of depth – pretty much as good as it gets these days, though at 31x31mm it's not the biggest. The refresh rate seems pretty quick during gameplay too.

As you'd expect with a Nokia phone of this line, game availability is very good, with several of the titles most recently reviewed on Pocket Gamer already available for the 5500 from the usual portals.

Playing a fairly simple game like 3D Attack Chopper proved a joy, since virtually all the gameplay revolves around the nav pad – easy to use, very responsive, and little need to rely on those rather spongy number buttons. The basic graphics didn't do much to test the screen, but then neither did Call Of Duty 3, since the screen rendered its complex backgrounds well and showed off its medium-paced firefights to good effect. We're still not keen on those number buttons though.

Soundwise, the 5500 offers a surprisingly full sound – not spelunklingly deep in the bass of course, and the high frequencies can pierce a bit with some soundtracks, but it offers a fair amount of detail from the mono speaker.

It comes with Snakes, of course, plus a Sudoku game and Groove Lab. This last reveals a neat little gaming trick, since it uses the phone's 3D motion sensor technology. It's a marble race game where you steer your marble around a maze simply by tipping the phone back and forward, left and right – look ma, no thumbs! You couldn't say it has a hair trigger, but the reaction is quick enough to make it plenty addictive, and there's a Bluetooth multiplayer option too.

There's an option to set your music as background so you can continue to groove while accessing other apps, such as, let's see, games. At least, that's the theory, but the phone's OS seems to struggle a bit with multiple applications, and we found that gameplay tends to slow down and can even crash if you're playing your own music at the same time. A shame, that.

The big key on the right, incidentally, gets you into sport mode, easily recognised because the screen lights up red, and gives you a pedometer and measures the distance covered, calories burnt and the duration of your exercise. This is where the motion sensor comes into its own, calculating how far and how fast you've gone. There are voice prompts to tell you how you're doing, and the accuracy seemed reasonable, although it's not so reliable if you shake it around too much.

There's also a 2megapixel camera on board, as well as two types of music player – Nokia's own and RealPlayer, plus FM radio.

The 5500 is the smallest Symbian S60 smartphone available, by the way, and it packs in lots of little extras, including a PDF reader and location programmes (though you'll need to connect to a Nokia GPS receiver via Bluetooth to use them) and of course there are plenty of options for downloads.

Reviewer photo
Dave Oliver 7 December 2006
Not a bad little gamer's phone, with a few nice touches, but you'll need to be into the more sweaty variety of gaming to really get the most out of it
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Specs Available inWorldwide
ModesGSM, 900, 1900
Band typetri
Built In Memoryn/a
Removable Memory TypeMicroSD
Primary screencolour
Number of colours262,144
Screen size208x208 pixels
Secondary screennone
Polyphonic ringtonesn/a
Camera Resolution2.0 megapixels
Music formatsn/a
Infrared portyes
Messaging Optionsn/a
MMS supportyes
Voice controlyes
Predictive textyes
SAR rating0.5 W/kg
Phonebook entriesn/a
Number of included ringtonesn/a
Downloadable extrasyes
Talk time4 hours
Standby time240 hours
Other featuresRugged construction, FM radio, 512MB microSD card, 2MP digital camera, music player, Bluetooth, infrared, uSB 2.0 connectivity, sports apps, PTT
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