They have been lined up for more than a week in England. They're trying to be among the first owners of the first hot, new touch-screen phone to go on sale in 2009.
Thursday is early release day for
first touch-screen phone -- the 5800 XpressMusic. The initial production run is already spoken for.
We first told you about the 5800 when it was announced last fall (see video below). It looked very cool back then, and now that we've gotten our hands on a sample, we can report that it is a very cool handset.
Nokia's First Touch Screen Hits a High Note
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This is a smartphone that concentrates on personal entertainment rather than business tasks. Don't get me wrong, the 5800 can text, surf the Web and handle email (including
Exchange mail) with the best of the competition. But it is primarily a device dedicated to mobile media.
The 5800 measures 4.37 by 2.04 by 0.61 ounces and weighs a scant 3.5 ounces. It is a GSM/GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA "world phone," which means it runs at 3G speeds overseas and in parts of South America but only 2.5G here in North America. Hopefully, we'll get a 3G version if and when the phone is released here. The phone also does Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (stereo for headsets), too.
The user-replaceable (unlike
iPhone), rechargeable battery is said to last for as much as eight hours of talking and more than 400 hours on stand-by. I was able to get two full days from a fully charged battery.
The 3.2-inch, 640-by-360 pixel (16x9) touch screen can be operated by using your finger or the enclosed stylus. The 5800 provides users with a small amount of haptic (vibration) feedback to let you know when you successfully touch the screen. The handset accepts/allows you to hot-swap microSD memory cards up to and including the 8GB card (included).
Input is handled by an on-screen, alpha-numeric keypad, a mini-QWERTY keyboard, as well as handwriting recognition. Like every other phone, it takes a few days for you to find your favorite input method -- and for the phone to get used to your scribbling. The 5800 also handles voice commands.
The built-in 3.2 megapixel still/video camera sports a Carl Zeiss lens. There's also a microUSB jack and a TV-out interface.
Nokia designed this phone for music and video and gives you an 8GB memory card to store your stuff. You can also buy and download songs and albums from Nokia's (and others') online music stores. Prices I saw were on a par with those from other British online services. The built-in stereo speakers can really play loud, and they sound pretty good for their size.
I found that video playback looked very good on the built-in screen. I watched news reports from
and from France 24 (in both English and French) and was very impressed. At one point I realized that I had been watching news reports for nearly an hour with no fatigue. An impressive feat.
This little jewel of a phone retails for £249 in the U.K. ($350 U.S.). Unfortunately, there are no official plans for either U.S. GSM cellular carrier (
) to market this phone. That's too bad because this is one really terrific design. I'm guessing that Nokia will market an unlocked U.S. version and sell it in online and in its showcase stores. I hope the company does.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.