Nokia's first affordable touch screen phone, the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music, sold like hotcakes in Europe and was available unlocked with AT&T 3G in the US. No love for T-Mobile folks and no contract subsidies in the US meant not very wide distribution for this touch screen phone. The Nokia 5230 followed more recently in Europe as a "Comes with Music" phone, a subscription all you can eat music service that isn't available in the US. The Nokia Nuron shares much of the 5800's DNA and almost all the DNA of the Euro 5230 with an almost identical design and the same resistive 360 x 640 touch screen. The price is nice at $69.99 with contract given the phone's low to mid-range smartphone feature set that includes a GPS with Ovi Maps free navigation, Bluetooth with A2DP stereo, a 3.5mm stereo jack and a 2 megapixel camera. Alas there's no WiFi and that camera resolution is at the low end for a Nokia phone.
The Nuron (Nokia Nuron 5230) is a Symbian OS 9.4 smartphone running Nokia's S60 5th Edition software. If you're already a Nokia S60 user, you'll likely feel right at home, even if you've never used the touch screen 5th Edition version. The icons, menus and metaphors are largely the same. That's great for familiarity, but the user interface still isn't ideally touch optimized as it is with the iPhone 3GS and Android (two mobile operating systems that were designed from the ground up for touch rather than being ports of d-pad centric product lines). Since Nokia has released six 5th Edition phones, starting with the high end Nokia N97, we'd hoped they'd have evolved the UI more. But the new ^Symbian phones are coming later this year, and we assume Nokia didn't want to spend much more development time with S60.
What exactly bothers us? It's not just the resistive touch screen, which has its good points: you can use it with gloves and fingernails and it's more precise. Yes, you do have to press a bit harder than on the iPhone or Motorola Cliq XT, but it's not a wretched task. What we don't like is that you actually have to use skinny scroll bars in some places, and those are certainly not finger-friendly and are terribly dated. In some cases you have kinetic scrolling and in others you don't. Since this isn't a capacitive display, there's no pinch zooming. In some places you must single-tap on an item and in other places a double-tap is required. Good gosh, these kinds of things should have been sorted out long ago. The on-screen keyboard isn't the easiest to use, but once you remember it's not capacitive and that you must pay attention and precisely tap the key you want, it's passable.
But there are things to like as well: once you get used to how the UI works, it's easy enough to fly around the screen and get things done. It's a fun phone to use, though it gets sluggish at times running on an ARM11 434MHz processor with a lean amount of available RAM. The smartphone is compact and very light at 3.98 ounces, and it makes the Cliq XT look like a battleship.
Like the Nokia 5800 and 5230, the phone's hardware is laid out a bit differently from most phones. Nokia ships the phone with a sticker over the display that lets you know that the SIM card slot and microSD card slots are under rubber doors on the side of the phone instead of under the battery door.
The Nuron has a screen lock slider on the right, a feature common in recent Nokia phones. It's easy to operate and saves you from the two step touch the power button then slide on the screen to unlock method that we find tedious. There are dedicated hardware call send and end buttons and a center key that opens up the programs window. These are mechanical buttons and work easily. A touch sensitive button lives at the top right corner above the display and this launches a shortcut bar to the multimedia apps. There's a standard 3.5mm stereo jack up top (music is one of the phone's strong points) and a dedicated camera button. The volume buttons are on the right and they control everything except ringer volume (you must use the Profiles settings to change the ringer volume which seems a little silly).