- Nokia’s new 5710 XpressAudio is a basic feature phone with a built-in wireless earbud charger.
- It’s the perfect antidote to a smartphone overdose.
- There’s even a built-in FM radio.
No annoying apps, battery for weeks, and built-in wireless earbuds! Why can't all phones be like this?
Many of us complain that our smartphones are super distracting, that we pick them up to, say, quickly change the song and then emerge 30 minutes later from a Twitter/Facebook/special-interest forum rabbit hole. And yet few of us do anything about it, and that’s partly because the alternatives have been so lame. But Nokia’s 5710 XpressAudio is lame in name only. It’s the candy bar phone for people who hate smartphones.
“Many music lovers will prefer this as a secondary phone for music only with a week of battery juice. These earbuds are quite unique with active noise cancellation. [and] the design is just awesome. I might actually end up buying this phone when it arrives in my country,” technology writer Sayan Dutta told Lifewire via email.
It’s a 1990s Nokia, Only in 2022
Let’s get the most incredible part of this out of the way right now. This thing is just £74.99 (€69, or $69.99). For that, you get a feature phone with a T9 number pad, a super-basic 0.3 megapixel camera (and LED flash), and a hidden compartment that stores and recharges a pair of earbuds, which can then be used for four hours before recharging them.
OK, that’s two incredible parts: the price, and the built-in wireless earbuds. Three, if you count the super cool red and white color scheme. Four, if you count the 20-day standby battery life. Yes, standby time. That’s how battery life for phones used to be measured before they became pocket computers that we pretty much use constantly. And more than any other spec, this inclusion of battery standby reveals how this phone is intended to be used.
App-Less, or App Free?
The modern-day smartphone is an all-purpose computer, bristling with sensors, microphones, and cameras, so it can connect equally well to servers in distant countries or the world around you right now. And as we know, those computers run countless apps. The human problem is that those apps can be endless distractions and time wasters. But the technological problem is that the phone itself is little more than a blank slab, with all interactions coming via the screen.
Cameras have knobs and dials to change settings without looking or thinking. MP3 players have play and skip buttons that can be found by feel in a pocket. And so on. While the infinite configuration of a smartphone's screen means that you can customize it to suit yourself, it also means that many interactions are worse.
“It’s interesting to see that there are still companies out there making phones like this. It’ll be curious to see if they can find a niche in today’s smartphone-dominated world,” James Jason, founder and CEO of technology company Notta AI, told Lifewire via email.
This Nokia is built for talking and listening. The product page focuses on four features—the earbuds, the music player, the built-in FM radio, and the hardware music buttons, and that’s it. You can, of course, make phone calls, and you can send text messages by tapping them out on the 12-key numerical keypad, but that’s just as annoying as it has always been—although, to be clear, Nokia always had the best, easiest text-messaging UI of all the old phones.
The 5710 XpressAudio is way more focussed on audio. This means that it has dedicated buttons along the side for play/pause and skipping forwards and back. It also has a speaker for listening to your loaded MP3s or the FM radio if you’re tired of the wireless buds.
What it doesn’t have is any way to stream from Spotify or Apple Music or download podcasts over the air—you have to load the music onto a MicroSD card instead. But that’s kind of the point. Once you leave the house, you have what you have, with no option for anything more.
The biggest disappointment of this super-cool-handset might be that it is too cheap. After all, how good can those wireless earbuds be in a $70 handset? It would be nice to see a premium version that sounded great but stayed just as simple.
But really, at this price, which cares? It’s the perfect device to take with you when you want to escape your smartphone’s connectivity but still have the essentials. We’re just glad that Nokia is not only still making them but still making them cool.