The Nokia 5230 is a great phone for map lovers, and though the rest of its features are decidedly less impressive, it's a decent mid-range option from T-Mobile, especially since it is a reasonably-priced touch screen device.
The Nuron has its strong suits, but the design isn't one of them. The white plastic looks cheap, so much so that you may not think $70 is a fair price at first glance. At 4.4-by-2.0-by-0.6 inches, the dimensions are fairly normal, though the front guard is just plain ugly and awkward.
The 3.2-inch touch screen disappoints upon initial look as well, since it is made of equally flimsy plastic and it's resistive, so it comes with a bundled stylus. But the 640-by-360 pixel resolution serves it well, producing clearly defined images, and you won't actually need the stylus because it's more touch-sensitive than many other resistive screens, so even typing out longer messages of the virtual keyboard is fairly painless, though you may find the alphabet layout cramped.
The big strength lies in its multimedia offerings. The 2-megapixel camera is the weakest of those offerings, since it is undeniably basic, but it still takes detailed photos and is bolstered by a snappy shutter speed. Meanwhile, the music player works like a dream -- displaying album art prominently and delivering clear audio -- aided by a standard 3.5-millimeter jack. And there's lots of plenty of room to add a decent music library with a slot on the side that takes microSD cards up to 16-gigabytes in size. A word of advice: Nokia's music store isn't available in the U.S., so you're better off downloading songs to a computer and then transferring them to the phone. In addition, there's an FM radio if you get bored of your songs.
If you love GPS and maps, you'll love the Nuron -- Nokia put Ovi Maps on the phone for free. That means you'll have high-quality navigation in your pocket. You can even access the maps when you're not connected to data -- and use the service in 74 different countries -- the GPS perks alone are worth it if you travel abroad. For the price, voice guided, turn-by-turn navigation is a steal, and one of its greatest assets.
Unfortunately, it runs on Symbian 3 software, which isn't our favorite. Many of the features are counter-intuitive -- for example, certain icons need one click while others need two -- and the Ovi Store is in desperate need of a makeover. Since the Nuron doesn't have Wi-Fi, you'll have to cross your fingers for strong T-Mobile 3G coverage.
But the Nuron is a full smartphone for an extremely reasonable price, so if you're budget-minded and intrigued by the maps, it's a great value. The processor isn't particularly fast, the 3G service can be spotty depending on where you live and yes, the camera isn't amazing. But the great GPS, great price and solid calling and texting performance makes it an easy recommendation if you're looking for a reasonably-priced smartphone. ♦
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