Only few manufacturers have dared to create mobile handsets for the purposes of being dust and splash resistant for the rugged and harsh environments the world brings to us. For many people, rough environmental conditions are a part of everyday life – and everyday life usually involves (for most) a mobile phone. Not just any mobile phone, a strong and resistant mobile phone.
The Nokia 5140 is the big sister of the 5100, which was very successful in its own right. The 5140 has many of the same features of the 5100 and much more for increased functionality and connectivity. Nokia and Siemens are the two main companies creating these kinds of devices, and Siemens have just released the M65 – their answer to the 5140.
Read on for more about one of Australia’s first Push-to-Talk enabled handset, the Nokia 5140.
The Nokia 5140 impresses in most aspects. Upgrades from the 5100 include a VGA camera with video and still capture, Push-to-Talk capability, HSCSD and EDGE data speeds, full user interface themes, and an upgraded new look. Features that both handsets share are the same 4,096 colour LCD display, Pop-Port™ interface, polyphonic ring tones, Handsfree speakerphone and FM stereo radio, and many other features.
Push-to-Talk is a new feature currently being trialed on Optus and Telstra networks. It's a digital version of walkie-talkies – and uses a wireless protocol on the mobile phone (GPRS, EDGE, etc) to transmit your voice directly to another compatible handset. The 5140 has a button on the left hand-side of the handset which (when PTT is set up) needs to be pressed once to activate the service and talk to a single person or a whole group. The 5140 is the first handset available in Australia with the service.
Most of the upgrades in the 5140 are welcomed with open arms from the 5100. The VGA camera is really a feature that every phone should have these days as they are used all the time. The 640 x 480 maximum resolution is fine for the small display the handset uses, and MMS messaging is heaps of fun. The video support is always a plus too. For more about the VGA camera on the 5140 visit the additional page two, Camera Performance.
The Nokia 5140 supports a whole range of different data protocols. GPRS which is used the most (and currently the only protocol supported in Australia on 2/2.5G networks) allows data to be transmitted and received at 48kbp/s. The handset however also has support for EDGE and HSCSD, which can transmit data at 384kpb/s (provisioned for, maximum in most supported areas is about ~100kbp/s) and 115kbp/s respectively. These high-speed data rates allow you to connect to services quickly and download the data you want in the blink of an eye.
User interface customizability is something the 5140 really does have. Most Nokia phones allow changing of the UI's colours – but they're pretty basic and don't compare to for the Sony Ericsson themes which change the whole look of the phone. The Nokia 5140 however has themes which include backgrounds which are the backgrounds for the menus too. If you personalize your background though this will not be the background for the menus. The display on the handset is ordinary, a 4,096 colour LCD. Personally I think this size is out-of-date and not suitable for handsets of this calibre.
The Pop-Port™ interface on the 5140 can connect to headsets, USB data-cables and more for high-speed transfers. The single interface is very convenient as everything fits in the same way; there aren't separate plugs for each accessory. Infrared is supported on this handset as well, but Bluetooth isn't.
For a mobile phone to be dust and splash resistant it has to be thoroughly thought out and the 5140 is definitely that. It is available in two colours in the sales package, Red or Blue. I received the Blue handset from my trial but the only change between the shells is the colour so everything remains the same. There are other Xpress-On™ shells available from Nokia in different colours to suit your mood and personality.
The Xpress-On™ covers of the 5140 are made out of hard rubber and durable plastic for the best support of the main board of the phone and display. The back section of the handset which is plastic is semi-transparent so you can see inside the back of the phone. The Pop-Port™ interface on the bottom of the phone is covered, like the 5100, with a rubber flap. This sits securely in place and is very good at keeping foreign matter out of the port. There are no other ports on the 5140.
When compared to the Nokia 5100 handset, the 5140's Xpress-On™ covers are thicker than the 5100's. The main boards of the handsets are both around the same width, with the 5100 being longer than the 5140. The 5100 is also wider than the 5140. The overall measurements of the 5140 are 106.5mm x 46.8mm x 23.8mm, and the 5100 is 108.5mm x 49.5mm x 22mm. The 5140 is heavier, at 106.5 grams and the 5100 at 104grams.
The left and right side of the handset, on either side of the display have convenient functions. The right side is the PTT button and the left side is the volume up/down buttons, which can be used during a call or when the phone is idle. The small infrared window on the 5140 is located on the right side of the handset, nearest the bottom.
A small opening at the top of the handset, with a yellow film positioned below it is the Nokia 5140's
integrated torch. Two smaller holes below this are the speakerphone openings. The on/off button of the handset moulds into the rest of the phone, and is opposite the torch/loudspeaker openings. The bottom of the 5140 (either side) has wrist/neck strap inserts; unlike the 5100 which has these inserts on the top and bottom.
The 5140's sales package has a carrying strap which consists of a elastic strap and plastic holder which attaches to the phone and then can be wrapped around your arm or hand. The elastic can be tightened or loosened so the handset will be literally strapped to you. The carrying strap is a little hard to get attached to the phone but once it is it's very secure and there is no chance of it coming off unexpectedly.
User Interface & display
The User Interface of the 5140 is the same as other Series 40 handsets from Nokia, except for a few enhancements. The display on the 5100 is also the same as Series 40 devices, for example the 6610 and 5100 models. A single 128 x 128 pixel 4,096 colour display is used.
If you've used the Nokia 5100 the handset's display really has no changes. Keeping the handset at 4,096 colours may not have been a good idea but keeping the overall size of the handset down calls for a smaller display. The 65,536 colour 128 x 128 pixel LCD's weren't a major hit in the phones they were implemented in anyway, so the 4,096 colour LCD is probably best suited. Taking photos with the 5140 isn't as good as it could be because of the display, and images viewed full-screen or zoomed in (wallpapers) sometimes look less than expected. For messaging and other basic functions the 5140's display is fine.
Something I didn't like about the 5100 (and any other mobile phone for that matter!) was the slow user interface, especially when messaging. The 5140 is much faster than the 5100 for messaging, but the user interface lags behind a little bit, mainly when you get deeper into menu trees. An improvement from the 5100 though, which is great.
The main menu of the 5140 can be displayed in grid or list view like many other Series 40 devices. The themes of the 5140 change the icons in the main menu including the back of the menus – it really transforms the whole phone. The themes are colour-based and work around one centralized colour; the colours to choose from are Blue, Silver, Grey, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Yellow, and Violet. The display's contrast can also be adjusted all from the Display menu under Settings.
The 5140 has a 5-way directional pad, and two soft keys. This allows quick selection of menus and for example message sending – you only have to push the directional pad in to send a message instead of going to Options, and then send. The directional keys are a little small and take some fiddling around to get used to. The two soft keys are used when the phone is idle to jump to the Go-To menu (left key) and Names (right key).
Making and receiving calls
Nothing has changed in this area from the 5100 or any other Series 40 device. You can conduct a call in one of three ways, and switch between either at any time. Use of the inbuilt loudspeaker, a Pop-Port™ headset, or the headset up to your ear is your options. The 5140 doesn't support Bluetooth so Bluetooth Headsets cannot be used with the handset. The sales pack of this handset comes with a stereo headset so you don't have to go out and buy one.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to trial the Push-to-Talk service on the 5140, one of the main selling points of the handset.
Like the 5100, the 5140 has automatic volume control when in call. This adjusts the speaker's volume depending on the outside conditions. If you were in a loud environment the volume would be adjusted to be loud enough for you to hear. If you then moved into a quiet environment the volume would be lowered so it doesn't blow you away. The automatic volume control can be turned on or off though the call options in the settings menu. This removes the need to fiddle with the volume control buttons on the side of the phone, but if you have to you can. The top button is volume up and vice versa.
The two hang-up/pick-up buttons on the handset are in the same position as always, the first on the right and latter on the left side of the handset.
The 5140 has a range of in-call features, including the ability to record calls. They will be saved in your gallery so you can listen to them afterwards directly from the handset or transfer them to a PC and listen to them there. To access these and other in-call functions just press the left soft-key. Here you can turn on the loudspeaker as well.
The handset up against your ear is comfortable and as the handset is shorter width wise from the 5100 the rounded edges shouldn't cause any discomfort.
The Nokia 5140 has support for basic messaging, SMS and EMS, and also MMS and e-mail messaging. The in-built VGA camera can be used to capture images and video for your MMS messages. T9 predictive text is supported on the handset for quick-messaging. Presence enhanced contacts are also supported on the 5140.
The buttons of the 5140 are large enough to be used by anyone's fingers, but some are harder to press than others. Like the 5100, all of the buttons take a bit of extra pressure to get pushed down but this is expected as the phone is made to be tough and hard-wearing. The top and bottom line of buttons seem to be the hardest to press, especially the 0 button. All other buttons are reasonably easy to use. There is only very little messaging lag on the handset when using T9 predictive text.
A built-in Java application is used for e-mail messaging on the handset, where you can connect many servers and accounts and download all your messages. You can reply to the messages directly on your handset and then send messages ASAP or next time a wireless connection is established to save on cost.
The handset has support for long-SMS messages, and a small number indicator on the top of the 5140's messaging window shows you how many characters you have left in the current SMS. If you move into the next message the number after the slash (/) will change.
The Nokia 5140 has two connectivity options for connecting to other local devices like another PC or device; Infrared and USB Data-cables via the high-speed Pop-Port™. There are many different options for wireless data connections – GPRS, CSD, HSCSD, and EGDE are all supported. There is no software or USB data-cable included in the sales package so if you wish to connect your phone you will have to download the software and purchase a data-cable separately.
The infrared port on the 5140 is on the right-hand side, the same position as it is on the 5100. You can see the port more than the 5100's port however as the panel is black and the design of the Xpress-On™ shells isn't so full-on.
GPRS is the only wireless protocol supported on the handset, and allows speeds of around 42kbp/s to be reached on the phone. The built-in WAP 2.0 browser can connect to all your
favourite sites and download tones, Java games and applications, pictures and more. The browser supports xHTML pages, bringer a richer multimedia experience to your handset.
HSCSD and EDGE are protocols which have provisions for speeds faster than GPRS, but aren't supported in Australia at the moment.
The Xpress-On™ shells of the 5140 caused me a bit of a hassle and were a definite downgrade from the 5100's shells. The quality of the handset other than the shells is very sturdy and some durability tests I gave the handset didn't make a big impact on the 5140. If you don't remove/replace the covers on the 5140 a lot you won't have any problems with the handsets build quality.
The Xpress-On™ shells of the 5140 take a lot of work to remove, especially the bottom one. The manual says that what you have to do is press the sides of the handset in and then pull down. When I did this only one side would un-click from the support, and the other side wouldn't budge. Moving it around and fiddling with it for a few minutes was the only way to get it off. The top shell just lifts off but doesn't seem to "click" into place like the 5100. When the Xpress-On™ shells are on they are very secure and well positioned.
During my trial with the 5140 I accidentally dropped it a couple of times and did purposely drop and throw it to test the durability. I dropped the 5140 onto a hard floor, threw it at the ground and also at a wall and nothing happened to the handset physically or internally that I could pin-point. One thing I did notice when I tested the 5140 is that when it is thrown at the ground/wall or dropped, it turns itself off. This may be a
defence mechanism or also may be due to the battery moving in the back cover, although it seems pretty secure.
The battery life on a handset like the 5140 has to be good, and I was most impressed with what I got out of the battery. The single 760mAh BL-5B battery was fine for the handset; even though it does have features like a camera and PTT (which I wasn't able to trial).
Average use of the handset with a full charge of the BL-5B battery should give you 2-5 hours talk time and 150-500 hours standby time.