The S500i is a slider-style fashion phone with a sleek black finish and customers can choose a spring yellow or (our preference) a mysterious green trim. Its lightweight and compact with a slick slider, but is let down by a plasticky feel.
Sony Ericsson's neat icon-based user interface makes this phone simple to use. However, the keypad is a little cramped and may be a problem for fat fingers.
The S500i offers a two megapixel camera, built-in music player, expandable memory via a MemoryStick Micro card and quad band for calls in the US and around the world.
Unfortunately, the camera lens is pretty basic and there's no macr for close-ups or flash of any kind. The camera worked well in a good light, but struggled under harsher conditions.
As with all Sony Ericsson handsets, the S500i has a sound battery and 540 mins is an impressive talktime.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:48:13 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Despite basic features the two-megapixel performs admirably while the music player is
With a lightweight and creaky construction the S500i doesn't feel very robust
Sony Ericsson is really concentrating on the fashion orientated side of the market with its T-Series and new S-Series handsets. Of course it's dallied with the fashion world with mixed results with the Z610i mirrored 3G-clamshell (miss) and the W880i Walkman phone (hit). But now it's seriously set to walk the style mile with a new trio of handsets including the prepay T250i, the high-end candybar T650i and the S500i slimline slider.
The S500i is apparently inspired by nature, blooming in two finishes: Spring Yellow and Mysterious Green. Our sample came in the latter - which is confusingly black (you don't witness the green effect until you slide it open). That said, the keypad and back of the front fascia show off a fetching green veneer, which enhances an otherwise lacklustre design. As a novelty, the phone flashes, pulsates and radiates when you open it.
While the phone is just 14mm thick, its trim figure is let down by a creaky plasticky build. If you didn't know its feature set you could mistake it for a more entry level phone. The spring-loaded slider mechanism claws back some dignity and is pretty slick and responsive. The phone is easy to personalise with three main settings: Clarity (the basic display), Everchanging (a dark forest theme), and Day and Night (a carousel menu system instead of the grid. Also the last two themes send out a vibrating pulse in the main menu every time you select a sub section. Elsewhere, the S500i is pretty lucid to use and navigate around although the keypad feels a little cramped and may not sit well with those of you carrying fat fingers.Feature-wise, there's a two-megapixel camera, microSD card slot for storage, full HTML web browser and a built-in music player.
You have to slide open the phone to reveal the camera, which can only be fired up using the five-way navigation joypad. Unfortunately the camera is pretty basic with no autofocus, macro focus for close-ups or flash of any kind. It shoots on a maximum resolution of 1600x1200 pixels but there are a few modes and features to tinker with if you're feeling adventurous. You can takes snaps in Panorama (this stitches together three pictures for a panoramic landscape), Frames (this uses, er, pretty frames to tart up the picture) and Burst that shoots four frames in quick succession and this is good for moving subjects. Elsewhere the Night Mode comes in handy especially with the absence of a flash.Although colours are vivid, it does lose focus in places and especially around the edges. White areas can also be prone to over exposure. But it's worth noting we captured photos in strong outdoor lighting conditions, and it may struggle under harsher conditions.
Even Sony Ericsson's non Walkman phones, tend to have cracking built-in music players. The Sony Ericsson S500i continues this trend, boasting the same player that's present in the Sony Ericsson K800i, K810i and the upcoming P1i smartphone. The S500i also arrives with Sony Ericsson famed Disc2phone PC music software that originally shipped with the Walkman handset. Outside of iTunes it remains one of the easiest and most intuitive programmes around for either transferring your existing computer library or ripping CDs. It's a cinch to use. Sadly our review sample didn't include a Memory Stick Micro (the hotswappable slot is located on the top of the phone) so you will have to invest in a memory card to get the best out of the player and you can pick these up for around £37 if you shop around. The music player itself is simple to operate. You can access your music via Artists, Tracks and Playlists and once you're spinning the music you can enhance the sound via the five-band equalizer.
Sony Ericsson makes easy-to-use phones and the S500i is a fine example with some nice flourishes like the mother earth themes and colours. But place it alongside more swoonsome rivals like the LG Chocolate and Shine and the S500i loses the style war.