Nokia 5100 Phone Review

Beyond the 5100's hard exterior is a charming and intelligent phone with a bright display and plenty of features.
Beyond the 5100's hard exterior is a charming and intelligent phone with a bright display and plenty of features.
Beyond the 5100's hard exterior is a charming and intelligent phone with a bright display and plenty of features.

Highs

  • Lots of features
  • good reception

Lows

  • No Bluetooth support
  • hard to push keys

DT Editors' Rating

Summary

The Nokia 5100 is probably one of the oddest phones we have seen. The design is definitely over the top and the inclusion of programs such as a calorie burner and sound meter have us wondering if the cell phone market has become so competitive to the point that every little add-on function is necessary to stay one step ahead of the competition. The power button on the 5100 is ridiculously hard to push and for every extra ability the 5100 has, there still is no Bluetooth capability. The 5100 proved to be very rugged and durable in our tests due to the rubber casing and we got accustomed to the thick rubber keys. Beyond the 5100’s hard exterior is a charming and intelligent phone with a bright display and plenty of features. The 5100 is the perfect phone for those with an active lifestyle. Teens will no doubt also fall in love with the 5100’s total customizability.

Introduction

Nokia’s 5100 series phone was announced in Munch, November 2002 and only recently has made it state-side and should be showing up soon to a store near you. Based on the Series 40 platform the 5100 shares many common functions with the Nokia 7210, 6610 and 6100 series phones. What sets the tri-band GSM 5100 phone apart from the others in this series is its unique rubber skin, futuristic design and unique applications. The Nokia 5100 is aimed primarily at people with an active lifestyle and business users may want to look elsewhere.

Features

The Nokia 5100 is touted as being water and dust resistant while providing ample shock protection for an active lifestyle; but that is only the story from the outside. On the inside the 5100 has some of the most innovative features available while at the same time missing some features we would have liked to have seen. The 5100 weighs in at just under 4 ounces, has a 128×128 pixel 4096 color display and an internal antennae with vibration alert.

With features like an integrated flashlight, thermometer, and a calorie calculator the Nokia 5100 will appeal to those that like to play with their cell phone; certainly what a service provider likes to see. The 5100 is completely customizable with multiple “colored” shells, Polyphonic ring tones, wallpaper templates and color schemes. A stereo headset or camera headset is available and purchased separately.

On the more serious side, the Nokia 5100 features GPRS internet and e-mail support with text and picture messages, computer synchronization and a 300 contact phone book. The business traveler will find these features to be very appealing. Of course with most cell phones, the synchronization software has to be downloaded from Nokia’s website and the USB transfer cable has to be purchased separately.

Setup and use

The great thing about GSM network providers here in the states is that all you have to do to try a new phone is swap out the SIM card. With the Nokia 5100 we simply took our SIM card from our existing ATT serviced phone and placed it in the 5100. The first and only major gripe we had with the Nokia 5100 came with the power on/off button. It is located on the top of the phone and takes quite a bit of pressure to turn the phone on; a normal switch would have been sufficient. Once we turned on the Nokia 5100 we were welcomed with Nokia’s familiar tune in a nice polyphonic tone. The 4,096 color display is extremely bright and colorful even in the day time sun. The Nokia 5100 features an astounding 20 keys on the front of the phone. The keys are in the locations you would expect although the design of the 5100 makes the key layout appear to be in a different configuration; the only difference is a slight spacing between the number keys. On the left hand side of the 5100 is where expect the volume button is, exactly where is should be.

Nokia opted to use 4 buttons a in an up/down/right/left configuration located above the number keypad. Sony Ericsson uses a joystick which we like, but the Nokia 5100’s configuration worked surprisingly good as well. Navigation with the multiple keys took some getting used to but worked without any problems once we quickly adapted. It is very easy to push the wrong key since multiple buttons share the same soft key pad. Cell phones have been evolving without a doubt, and more keys are necessary to handle the multiple features included within this evolution; the Nokia 5100 does a great job with this.

The speakerphone on the Nokia 5100 is extremely easy to use; simply push the main right soft key to switch between regular phone mode and speaker phone mode while making a call. The speaker phone is relatively loud, although not as loud as some of the newer Motorola phones on the market.

The menu system on the Nokia 5100 is the same basic menu system present in previous Nokia phones with exception to the 7650, 9200 and communicator models. The sub menus are intuitive to navigate and options are where you would expect them. The 5100 has some pretty basic Java games including Sky Diver and Bounce as well as some applications we have never seen before. The calorie burn application will tell you how many calories you have burned given your height, weight and other information. Joggers and people that work out while carrying the 5100 might find this application useful. For us desk jockeys, the last thing we want to know is how many calories we are NOT burning.

The temperature application seemed to work pretty well and accurately told us the outside temperature as long as we did not hold the phone too long in our hands; doing so raised the temperature because of our body heat. The included sound meter application is probably one of the most useless applications available on any phone. It measures the decibel rating of the sound level around you. Why anyone would want this is beyond us.

Setup and Use Continued…

Onto better things, we found that the 5100’s support for the new MMS standard which allows you to send text and images over the air worked superbly. There is also support for SMS chat although we were not able to test it because we did not have another compatible phone. You can also setup and use 4 different SMS profiles as an added bonus.

Other noticeable features include Nokia’s alarm clock, 300 contact phonebook, and calendar and to-do list. The calendar looks fantastic on the bright color display and easily fits each month within the parameters of the screen resolution with easy to read text. Unlike a lot of phones on the market, the 5100’s phone book lets you store 5 phone numbers and 5 text entries per contact location. This is great if a contact has multiple numbers for work, home and cell phone.

Synchronization using Nokia’s PC Suite and the 5100’s IR port worked great and there were no problems synching Outlook calendar and contacts with multiple numbers, although the 5100 can only store one e-mail address per location, but that is still better than most phones. On another note, we have absolutely no idea where the IR port is, only that it is somewhere on the front of the phone since that was the only way were able to get it to sync. There was also no mention of the infrared’s port location in the manual. For all of the features included on the Nokia 5100, we would have liked to have seen Nokia include Bluetooth capabilities.

As with other Nokia phones, there are 5 programmable profiles. Each profile lets you setup the ring tone, volume and other settings associated with it. For example, if you have a meeting to go to, changing the 5100 to the meeting profile, may turn your ring volume off, vibrate function on or pass the call directly to voice mail.

We know that it must seem like there are a hundred of features on the 5100 and this review will not end, but we have to mention a feature which is one of the coolest we have seen in a cell phone. The 5100 features an automatic volume feature which will automatically change the volume for you depending on how much background noise is present; perhaps this is where the sound meter plays in. This feature worked very well in most of our tests and comes in extremely handy while driving.

Battery life on the Nokia 5100 was surprisingly good considering how many applications can be running simultaneously. We were able to squeeze out about 4.5 hours of talk time and about 7 days of standby. The Nokia 5100 comes with a 720 mAh battery.

And last but not least, the reception of the Nokia 5100 was great using ATT’s GSM service, getting better reception than our Sony Ericsson T68i phone. The clarity of the Nokia 5100 is not as good as the T68i in our opinion, but we would take reception over clarity any day.

Conclusion

The Nokia 5100 is probably one of the oddest phones we have seen. The design is definitely over the top and the inclusion of programs such as a calorie burner and sound meter have us wondering if the cell phone market has become so competitive to the point that every little add-on function is necessary to stay one step ahead of the competition. The power button on the 5100 is ridiculously hard to push and for every extra ability the 5100 has, there still is no Bluetooth capability. The 5100 proved to be very rugged and durable in our tests due to the rubber casing and we got accustomed to the thick rubber keys. Beyond the 5100’s hard exterior is a charming and intelligent phone with a bright display and plenty of features. The 5100 is the perfect phone for those with an active lifestyle. Teens will no doubt also fall in love with the 5100’s total customizability.

Movies & TV

From 'GLOW' to 'Stranger Things,' these are the best Netflix Original series

Netflix's stable of content has grown quickly, and the streaming service now boasts dozens of shows produced in-house. Looking for the cream of the crop? These are our picks for the best Netflix Original series.
Mobile

How beneficial is ECG in the new Apple Watch? We asked an expert

The Apple Watch Series 4 is packed with features that make it the best smartwatch on the market, but just how valuable is the new ECG and heart-tracking functionality? We spoke to some experts to find out.
Product Review

'FIFA 19' still nails soccer, but don’t expect any surprises

FIFA 19 is still a great way to play virtual soccer, but the changes made in this year’s game don’t push the series forward, and The Journey's story mode stumbles in its final installment.
Wearables

Fitbit Versa vs. Apple Watch Series 4: Which wearable is the best?

Smartwatches are the health-conscious wearables that everyone wants. We wanted to see how the brand-new Apple Watch Series 4 matches up with the beloved Fitbit Versa, so we compared them in various categories to help you choose.