Nokia has already shown its determination to stop Sony’s Ericsson’s Walkman posse dominating the music phone scene with its 5310 XpressMusic candybar. A highly capable melody maker, this deliciously slim phone is nevertheless one for the prepay crew. To please the more feature-finicky, Nokia has released its second XpressMusic cut – the 3G and 3.2MP camera-equipped 5610.

Despite flaunting the same colour combo as the 5130, this compact slider somehow feels sportier than its stable mate. The metallic trim also gives it a hard edge, although its overly plastic rear cover butts in and ruins the illusion. Nokia’s recent penchant for over glossing its phones is evident again on the 5610 with a lacquered front controls and spacious keypad, although this look embellishes the tacky look.

iPod-esque menus

Perched on the front is a curious but incredibly handy NaviSlide switch that gives instant access to the music player and RDS-rigged FM radio. The player interface takes its cue from the iPod and is slick to use with the five-way joypad doubling as the music controls. Just like the 5310, the audio performance is impressive if you plug in your own quality headphones and fiddle with the array of Equaliser options to ramp up the sound.

Nokia should, though, be arrested for not integrating a 3.5mm headphone jack. If it can find space on the 5310 slip-of-a-phone, then why not on its chunkier bigger brother? Such an oversight wouldn’t hold up in gadget court of law.

Another niggle is the non-support for Nokia’s online Music Store. If the Finnish outfit wanted to make Sony Ericsson sweat then allowing over-the-air downloads direct to handset would have cranked up the heat to scorchio.

Storage for your tunes arrives via a microSD card slot that’s awkwardly located under the rear battery bonnet. Invest in a 4GB capacity card and you’ll get around 1,000 decent quality MP3 tracks, as long as you don’t share the spoils with your other media.

Sterling snapper

The 3.2MP snapper with autofocus nicely complements the 5610’s music skills and turns in a sterling performance. Good focus, natural colour rendering and consistent contrast tips it to the good end of the 3.2MP camphone scale, although its still doesn’t hit the heights of the Sony Ericsson K810i. The power LED flash is also little hit and miss with its illumination in indoor environments and the VGA-quality video capture only shoots at 15fps. It’s still good enough for YouTube tomfoolery, though.

Those who find the 5310 too feature flaccid will dig the 5610. Sure, its design may not quench the fashion thirst like its slender XpressMusic sibling but it’s got enough in its music studio to give the middle class Walkman range an audio lesson.

Stuff says... 

Nokia 5610 XpressMusic review

The 5610 has the features, mods and moves to be a real middle weight music phone contender