Nokia 6500 Slide review -

4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati, 12/12/2011 3:51:04 PM

8out of 10
Performance
8 out of 5
Look and feel
8 out of 5
Ease of use
8 out of 5
Features
6 out of 5
Battery life
Pros:

Looks and feels great, and it's easy to use.

Cons:

It took us a while to work out how to remove the rear battery casing (there's a release button on top).

The Nokia 6500 Slide makes up one half of a new series of Nokia handsets. And although we're perplexed by the range, we've fallen hook, line and sinker for the handset



Quite why the two Nokia phones currently residing in the 6500 series share a name is something of a mystery to us, and you only have to see the two sitting side by side to understand why. To bring you up to speed, there are currently two handsets in the 6500 range: the Nokia 6500 Slide (reviewed here) and the Nokia 6500 Classic (reviewed in next month's issue of Mobile Choice).

Aside from the fact that both are mid-range 3G handsets finished in a metal composite, it's hard to find many features that the phones share - it's certainly not looks or features.

Nokia's explanation is that both phones 'are contemporary designs based on a similar design inspiration'. The manufacturer admits that both 'feature real metal construction and a similar level of advanced technology engineering to appeal to a mass market audience'.

So there you have it. But despite our reservations about the common label, we have to admit that both are jolly nice phones.

We've opted to review the 6500 Slide first because, although it's the least attractive of the two, it houses the more sophisticated feature spec.

Look and feel

Don't make the mistake of discarding the 6500 Slide based on product shots of the phone because this is one of those rare handsets that actually feels better than it looks. And its aesthetics fare pretty well under close scrutiny too.

The handset is finished in stainless steel, with a black toughened plastic trim. These are two colours that do go together and the stainless steel finish means that the Slide feels pleasantly cool to touch.

It's similar in design to the Nokia N80 and N95, but a little more attractive and compact. It is a beautifully constructed handset with large navigation and soft keys on the fascia and a keypad which is not at all affected by the slider mechanism of the phone when the keypad is in use.

In fact, Nokia has the slide mechanism nailed. The action is so satisfying, you'll be popping the phone open even when you don't need to use it.

Navigating around

Whether the phone is open or closed, its 16-million colour,

2.2-inch display is sharp and brings the handset's menu icons to life incredibly well.

The phone's default homescreen looks particularly vivid, albeit in a busy way. Although the phone is powered by the Nokia Series 40 operating system (the same OS as you'll find on the 6300), the busy homescreen looks more like a version you'd find on a smartphone, with shortcuts to key menu icons, and a section displaying any notes you've made for the day.

However, by clicking on the menu option once, you'll be taken to the more familiar Series 40 setup of menu icons in rows of three. If you've never used a Series 40 phone before, it's a breeze to get around. As for the camera, this can be accessed via the Media menu icon or by simply clicking on the dedicated camera key on the side of the phone.

3.2-megapixel camera

Although megapixels do matter, if you're planning to print large photos, any photography expert will tell you that the lens matters more. Fortunately, the 6500 Slide ticks both boxes, with a 3.2-megapixel camera and Carl Zeiss optics. And, while the 8x digital zoom is a red herring (it's optical zoom we want), auto-focus and dual LED flash are welcome features.

In line with its all-round ease of use, the Slide boasts an intuitive camera setup. Astutely, the camera is designed to be used with the slide shut. Holding the phone in landscape mode, the phone's shutter key sits under the right index finger, and the digital zoom controls sit under the left index finger. Meanwhile, the handset's joypad and soft keys provide access to the other functions and can be operated with your right thumb. Because of the key size and the phone's dimensions, you don't have to perform any digital acrobatics to activate the handset's full array of photo wizardry.

The device is also particularly effective in portrait mode. Although most reviews tend to place Xenon flash above LED in the pecking order, the dual LED flash on the Slide proves effective in all lighting conditions and there's not a red eye in sight.

The Slide features built-in applications designed to help you to do something with your photos once you've taken them. PictBridge enables easy printing; Flickr lets you upload your photos online; and Adobe Photoshop lets you turn your portraits into blemish-free model shots.

You can easily move back and forth between the still and video camera with a single click left or right with the phone's joypad, and you can choose whether to view the image or recording in portrait or landscape mode. Videos can be shot in one of four resolutions, with 640x480 pixels (VGA quality) the best.

3G and more

The phone's 3G capabilities enable you to upload and download content at decent speeds and the front camera, which sits unobtrusively above the main display, enables video calling. Video calling is one of the forgotten features made possible by 3G, chiefly because it looked like fun, but has never really caught on. Having tried the service on the Slide - calling a Sony Ericsson T650i - we're no closer to being converted. Sure, there's a novelty factor because the other caller's face is perfectly recognisable when still. But pixellation occurs when you move and the whole experience just feels awkward.

While not as fast as the

HSDPA generation of handsets for web browsing, the Slide offers the best experience you can expect from a phone of this size. However, we feel that an RSS-style news feed service is better suited for a mobile than access to full websites.

That said, it's hard to be critical of the 6500 Slide because it achieves everything it sets out to. It's as easy to use as the 6300, but with a superior feature set. Why Nokia has grouped the 6500 Slide and Classic together, we're not quite sure.