As expected, T-Mobile has now launched the Nokia XpressMusic 5610 slider to compliment the 5310 candybar launched back in May. Though the software and the phone's raison d'être (music, that is) both mirror the slimmer 5310, the new slider turns up the heat a bit with a more capable 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera with dual-LED flash and something Nokia calls the "music slider," a sliding bar directly below the display that gives the user lightning-quick access to the music player and radio. Other features include a microSD slot (with 1GB bundled in the box), stereo Bluetooth, 2.2-inch QVGA display, and a standard issue quadband EDGE radio sans 3G -- though we'd hardly call that a feature. It's available starting today in white with silver trim or black with red trim for $99 on a two-year contract.

We've been toying around with a 5610 for the past few days, and as a Nokia dumbphone, it definitely gets the job done. It feels rock solid -- slider mechanism included -- which is a good sign for anyone used to loose, creaky Nokias of old. Be warned: though the phone is advertised as featuring a 3.5mm headphone jack, it's only available when you plug in a bundled external dongle. That'd be alright for a normal handset, but since the 5610 gets slapped with the XpressMusic branding, we can't say we really approve. On the upside, the loudspeaker is seriously one of the loudest -- perhaps the loudest -- we've ever heard on any phone, ever. So loud, in fact, that it hurts your ears at max volume if you're within a foot or two of the thing.

Voice quality is a tad on the tinny side, but plenty loud and clear. The top row of keys can be a little hard to access with your fat fingers butted up against the bottom of the upper portion of the slide, but otherwise, the keypad's decent and very usable. The navigation keys are equally easy to use, though we would've liked to have seen the "music slider" concept taken further -- it should flip between any open applet, not just between your current screen and the music apps. Bottom line? For 99 bucks, we like it, but for 49 bucks, we'd love it. Whatdya say, T-Mob?

Update: Though T-Mobile's press materials indicate that 1GB microSD cards are being shipped with the phone, buyers and retailers alike are reporting that it's actually 2GB. No complaints here!

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Nokia XpressMusic 5610 comes to T-Mobile