Nokia Enters Touch-Phone Fray

Today, Nokia announced its first touch-based phone, the XpressMusic 5800.

If you're a Nokia fan and have been longing for the world-leader in mobile phones to release a product that features finger-based input, prepare to get excited. Today, Nokia announced its first touch-based phone, the XpressMusic 5800.

The number of touch-based phones hitting the market has just increased by one. The world's largest producer of mobile phones has finally stepped up to the plate and delivered its first phone to feature a touchscreen. Too bad Nokia only manages to hit a double, rather than a home run.

The 5800 delivers some impressive features. It has a large touchscreen, a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, and can record video at up to 30 frames per second. It will work on 3G networks here in the U.S., and with its on-board Wi-Fi can be used to browse the Internet at your local hotspot. The a-GPS will be helpful in providing directions and mapping services.

It features a revised media player, and does a great job of playing your music and videos. The 3.5mm headset jack lets you use regular stereo headphones with the 5800, and also includes the ability to send a video signal out to a TV or monitor.

Nokia has taken the time to carefully revise its software. The new version, called S60 5th edition, is made to work with the touch-based input method. For the most part, Nokia does what is needed to get it working in good order. The icons have all been enlarged, the menus have been simplified, and most features of the phone have been carefully thought out. It is easy to reach out to your contacts -- be it via phone call, text message or email -- and Nokia makes sharing content created by the 5800 as easy as one button push.

But the 5800 isn't perfect. The touch screen technology is a little wonky, and will definitely take some getting used to. Even though it provides haptic feedback (buzzing vibrations) to let you know you've touched the phone, it is still easy to make mistakes with things like the software QWERTY keyboard.

The 5800 also feels cheap. It has not been designed nor put together with the typical level of quality that is expected of Nokia.

But those who are Nokia fans can easily overlook these weaknesses and find plenty to like.

The most relevant issue at this point will be to see how developers for the S60 platform adjust their applications to take advantage the new touch-based version of it.