Nokia has been guiltier than most of letting Sony Ericsson waltz in unchallenged and plonk its Walkman flag right in the middle of planet mobile music. Sure, it’s hit back recently with big stadium-sized rockers like the N81 8GB and N95 8GB but when it comes to mid-range Indie-sized phones, Nokia has pulled up short with its XpressMusic flock.

Only four strong, the 5200, 5300 and 5700’s toy town aesthetic wore off after several listens. But the Finnish manufacturer has seemingly learnt from its mistakes and the next wave of XpressMusos – including the 5310 – are shorn of this transient X-Factor quality.

W880i-matching waist

The 5310 is the successor to the Fisher Price-esque 5300 slider and sports a waif-like candybar figure. After the slimline 6500 Classic, Nokia is obviously getting a taste for dieting and at 9.9mm thick the 5310 matches the Sony Ericsson W880i in the Nano-lean stakes.

Nokia hasn’t completely abandoned the XpressMusic colour code but the 5310’s dark grey and metallic red combo isn’t as jarring. Perched on the scarlet aluminium side bars are dedicated music controls for easy access and the player itself has all the right moves.

A seven mode equalizer (two are customisable) boosts the sound and Nokia has miraculously found space on the 5310’s exceedingly trim torso for a 3.5mm headphone jack. Although the sound can be a tad muddy, plug in your quality cans and it gets clearer with driving bass. Another sweet addition is the support for Stereo Bluetooth for wireless streaming of music.

Average cam

There may be room for a headphone connection but the microSD card slot has been shunted under the battery. With up to 4GB cards available, you’re looking at around 1,000 tracks. Elsewhere, the fixed focus 2MP snapper is decidedly average and we wouldn’t recommend even bothering with the judder-tastic 176x144 pixel resolution video capture.

Unlike the W880i, Nokia hasn’t stretched to 3G for the 5310, so you’ll have to make do with torpid EDGE download speeds. Internet surfing is made easier and faster, though, by the embedded Opera Mini web browser app: web pages are nicely pruned and compressed for easy viewing on its two-inch display.

With its sleek, lightweight chassis the 5310 is a world away from its clunky predecessor. It shows the XpressMusic range is moving in the right direction and at £120 on prepay it remains good value. But it’s still not a patch on Stuff’s favourite, the W880i.

Stuff says... 

Nokia 5310 XpressMusic review

The 5310 is satisfyingly thin and a cool music phone but fails to bring Walkman-beating audio talents to the table