Review: Casing the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
And so to my latest roundup of smartphone cases, here for the Nokia 5800. Interestingly, because the device's dimensions are almost identical to that of the Nokia N82 and N78, some pouch-style designs for these devices will also be suitable for the 5800. What follows is an illustrated roundup of some of the obvious contenders for casing your Nokia 5800 XpressMusic.
First up, the incumbent, the hard silicone and plastic sleeve that is shipped in the 5800's box. In terms of protection, it's hard to fault this, and of course it is free, but you can't do anything at all while the 5800 is sheathed, you can't belt mount or lanyard mount it, plus some people have reported phone scratching because of the tightness with which the phone is gripped while being slid in and out:
Protection: 7/10, Style: 8/10, Usability: 5/10, Total: 20/30
Next up, the other incumbent, from my point of view at least. This is the case I've been using for the Nokia N82 for ages and it fits the 5800 very well too. Case and Pouch, in case you hadn't heard of them, are a reputable eBay seller - here's their product: 'Leather Phone Case for Nokia 5800, N82, N78 and N79'. It's perhaps the ultimate belt case, with minimal extrusion from the hip, a magnetic closure and terrifically strong clip. It's easy to extract the 5800 one-handed and to holster it again.
Protection: 9/10, Style: 8/10, Usability: 10/10, Total: 27/30
Krusell sent over three of their 5800-compatible designs. The first is this 'Classic', in typical Krusell wrap-around style, the idea being that you use the phone in-situ and never remove it. Here's hoping you don't have to swap memory cards too often then, or to remove the SIM or battery. The Classic fits better than many of Krusell's other all-encompassing designs, though you can see mismatches in the cutout at the top of the case. The belt clip is strong but the lip on the clip's bottom does its job a little too well and the case can be hard to remove from the belt one-handed. There's also the hassle of having to un-press-stud the rear flap whenever you stop to take a photo. But the biggest drawback of all is of course the way you have to press the 5800's touchscreen through the Krusell plastic. This isn't too bad in the centre, but feels unnerving and ends up innaccurate when straying towards the screen's edges.
Protection: 10/10, Style: 8/10, Usability: 4/10, Total: 22/30
The second Krusell design was a little more practical. Their Orbit case wraps around from the top, with a press stud fastening. As with many Krusell cases, the Multidapt system on the back in theory means that you can slide on other, less bulky clips, but the placing of the press stud unfortunately blocks the belt clip shown above on the Classic, which would have worked well here. So you're stuck with the voluminous clip shown. Clip aside, the 5800 is held securely and yet with all the buttons and most of the ports accessible (though not the microSD slot). OK, you have to reach into the leather casing to get at the buttons, but at least it's possible. Most importantly, the touchscreen is fully accessible and sits nicely within the leather frame. The camera aperture is also free and the main oddities are the storage slots in the case's top flap: one for a SD card (who uses them these days?), one for a microSD card (though I'd worry about it falling out) and a long slot presumably for business cards but too narrow to take any that I tried. A waste of leather and bulk, but at least it all forms more protection for the 5800's screen.
Protection: 9/10, Style: 6/10, Usability: 9/10, Total: 24/30
Krusell also sent over their Luna Pouch case (Large). Obviously rather generic, this is beautifully made and would work well in a handbag or briefcase, with the 5800 snug and secure and unlikely to fall out. There's a stylish metal logo on the front and a lanyard hook on the back, another mounting option.
Protection: 9/10, Style: 8/10, Usability: 8/10, Total: 25/30
And on to AX-ALEX. Ah yes, there's no mistaking a 'handmade' AX-ALEX case, with rounded rectangular lines and dovetail top flap. As you'd expect for the price, the finish and materials are superb, helped to stand out by the packaging - each case arrived in a velvet bag inside a de luxe box. There's a superbly low-line belt loop on the back of the case, for ultra-secure belt mounting. Although AX-ALEX don't actually make a Nokia 5800 case, I badgered them to send over their N82 design - the 5800 does rattle around a little inside this, but it's still practical. As with the other pouch style cases here, it does help to lock the screen and buttons with the keyguard before inserting the phone. The AX-ALEX's only real downside is the increased bulk over the svelte Case and Pouch design above - I'd have no compunctions about proudly showing off the AX-ALEX in a geek gathering, but might want to think twice about sporting it in wider circles.
Protection: 10/10, Style: 7/10, Usability: 8/10, Total: 25/30
Proporta were next up to bat, sending over their main Alu-Leather case for the 5800 and a pouch, shown below. The Alu-Leather works better than for many others in this series, thankfully, though it too is let down by the incredibly bulky swivelling clip system. Their standard twin-armed clamp works brilliantly here in terms of holding the 5800 securely without ever getting the way and you have access to all the ports and buttons. As with the Krusell equivalent, there are flaps in the case top which don't really serve a purpose, the bottom one is open but isn't wide enough for a standard business card. Leave off the belt clip and stub and you've got yourself a great standalone case.
Note that the mounting screw hole comes with a filler/spacer, not shown here.
Protection: 8/10, Style: 7/10, Usability: 9/10, Total: 24/30
The Proporta pouch is almost identical to the Krusell one, save that the leather and padding is a bit thinner. The pouch is nominally for the iPhone but also worth a mention here because it's also a good fit for just about any other smartphone, including the 5800.
Protection: 8/10, Style: 7/10, Usability: 8/10, Total: 23/30
Quite a close-fought roundup, then, but even though there was a good candidate from each of the AX-ALEX, Krusell and Proporta stables, nothing managed to displace the Case and Pouch design from my affections. With the others costing from £25 upwards, the fact that the Case and Pouch product is only £5 plus postage is also a huge plus point.
If you have a favourite case for the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, please comment here - maybe I can add it to this review round-up.
Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 23 March 2009
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at