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1GB Music Phone Launched At $99

The Nokia 5300 XpressMusic phone launched today by T-Mobile at $99 with included 1GB memory card is Nokia’s first U.S.-market music-oriented phone available through a U.S. carrier.

The slider, with dedicated exterior music keys and large 2-inch exterior screen to display a music menu, is also Nokia’s first U.S.-market carrier-distributed phone with WMA music playback, enabling it to play purchased and subscription-based music downloads sideloaded from a PC. The music keys control play, pause, forward and rewind.

In the U.S., Nokia already offers the $549 N91 GSM-network music-oriented phone direct to consumers in unlocked form on its Web site and in Nokia-owned flagship stores. It is the company’s first phone with playback of protected and unprotected WMA files.

At $99 with two-year service contract, the 5500 is the lowest-priced music phone sold with included 1GB memory. The only other such model is Sanyo’s M1, available from Sprint Nextel at $199, also with two-year contract. For the additional cost, the M1 is capable of downloading music over Sprint’s CDMA 1x EV-DO network, although it doesn’t play protected WMA files sideloaded from a PC. The Nokia 5300, in contrast, operates on T-Mobile’s slower EDGE data network, which doesn’t support over-the-air downloading.

The 3.7-ounce 850/1800/1900MHz 5300 plays music in the MP3, midi, AAC, AAC+, enhanced AAC+ and WMA formats, and ships with 1GB microSD card. It features 2-inch color screen, FM stereo tuner, stereo Bluetooth, stereo headphones, 1.3-megapixel camera, video recorder, video player with landscape mode, integrated hands-free speaker and four instant-messaging services.

Volume keys on the side double as zoom keys when the camera is activated

The price includes three free music downloads from Yahoo! and preloaded songs from new artists the Teddybears and Paolo Nutini.

Many other music-oriented phones are priced down to $49 without much memory, though their memory capacity is expandable with memory cards priced as low as $15 for 1GB miniSD cards and $40 for 2GB microSD cards, based on the latest Web site prices.