Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review of GSM/UMTS-handset Nokia 6500 classic

Live photos of Nokia 6500 classic

Table of contents:

  1. Prologue
  2. Design, materials
  3. Keypad
  4. Display
  5. Memory
  6. Battery
  7. USB, Bluetooth
  8. Camera
  9. Themes, applications, games
  10. S40 5th edition features
  11. Comparison with Nokia 6300
  12. Competition
  13. Impressions

Sales package:

  • Handset
  • Wired stereo-headset (HS-82)
  • Charger (AC-6)
  • Li-Pol battery (BL-6P)
  • Micro USB-data cable (CA-101)
  • User Guide
  • Software CD


The story of this model is very remarkable and has much to do with how the company’s vision of its product line-ups development changed over time and what expectations the company had for its future phones. By summer 2005, over at Nokia they had grown unhappy with the way product design had been going, and this resulted in Frank Nuovo resignation. This event was followed by, if not dramatic, but still substantial revision of the product creation approach, which allowed the line of “slim” devices to emerge, development of these solutions commenced in the middle of 2005. Back then, the company, already lagging behind both Samsung and Motorola, the trailblazer in slim phones, began looking into the ways of making up such handsets.

They started on a bunch of models, one of them was codenamed Lynn (today known as Nokia 6500 Classic). Christian Riise managed the product, whose development kicked off in August 2005. First results and a rough spec sheet had shaped up even before September 2005 ended, after this point they engaged themselves in development of the hardware department, as well as design and materials.

The image of the device had been finalized by December, first designs employed plastic. In February 2006 this device was tested out on a focus group in Moscow and several other cities. Apart from this model, they also showcased designs of Nokia 6300 and a couple of other handsets. What’s interesting, when the users put Nokia 6300 and Nokia 6500 Classic head to head, it was the latter that scored a win, as it seemed more preferable.

Nokia 6500 Classic was originally issued in silver, but some focus-group members noticed that this paint doesn’t belong on handset. That’s why in March they rolled out a black-colored model and only then the one in bronze.

The hardware department of Nokia 6500 Classic has become the foundation for a whole array of Nokia-branded solutions, apparently these will be 7000-series devices in the first place, in other words, fashion phones.

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Design, materials

The Nokia 6300 is positioned as a designer solution, but at the same time it belongs to the Connect – Contemporary category, like the Nokia 6500 classic. While the former device has been pushed under the motto «Simply Beautiful», the latter has had a couple of aspects highlighted with materials, rather than design, being the centerpiece. The maker doesn’t trick us, claming that the device is made of metal – indeed, the top part is made of anodized aluminum. And, no matter how you look at it, on the top, metal is everywhere. At the same time they say that every device has unique front polishing to it, there are no two models that look alike. I readily believe in this as well, but in real life conditions, you can barely spot the difference in metal polishing, handsets look resembling.

The entire underside is a kind of shoe dressing up the handset’s innards. This solution has already been used for durable phones by Nokia, for example, Nokia 5100 and its successors. This part of the casing enjoys moderately thick plastic. Antennas are also located here, even though such lay-out doesn’t seem normal, it is successfully utilized in many models, for example, by Motorola.

If we draw parallels between this one and the Nokia 6300, there is no stainless steel here, and moreover the casing itself doesn’t seem like something ultra-hard or packed with metal. The Sony Ericsson W880i feels the same way to a certain extent – you don’t get the solid feel with that metal, and it is nearly inconspicuous.

The handset measures 109.8x45x9.5, weights 94 grams. Both parameters are more than satisfactory for carrying the handset even in slim-fit jeans. One of our readers recently complained that it was next to impossible to have the Nokia 8800 in shirt’s pocket – it kept weighing it down. I really can’t comment on this – my shirts don’t let themselves do such things, probably, that’s because of bigger size.

The model comes in two color schemes – black and bronze. Either looks fetching, at that by default every model will come with a color-keyed theme, which adds certain chic to it.

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The handset’s buttons are made of plastic and lit in white, which is well-visible in various environments. The keys are average in size and employ terraced layout, but more importantly, its does well on the ergonomics front, the buttons are easy to tap and very responsive.

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The Nokia 6500 Classic utilizes a QVGA display, powered by TFT technology (16 mln colors, which are all bright and vibrant) with a resolution of 240x320 pixels (diagonal of 2 inches, 31x41 mm). The manufacturer hasn’t included any type of backlighting adjustment, i.e. the screen is always evenly backlit, which allows saving a bit of charge. Nevertheless the user is enabled to choose standby screensaver and backlighting mode (on/off) – in the latter case, if the backlighting will be turned off, the information will remain visible indoors but only at certain angles. Apart from that you can completely switch off the screen, so that it will turn black with no information being displayed on it. In light of the screen having a mirror layer, it doesn’t fade in the sun and ensures that all data will be still readable.

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The handset comes with no memory card slot – the manufacturer has deemed the 1Gb storage found in the 6500 Classic by default enough for most consumers. Indeed, it can’t match the most popular high-capacity cards (around 2 Gb), but quite decent for an average user.

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The handset has a 830 mAh Li-Pol battery (BL-6P) embedded. As the manufacturer puts it, this cell can keep the phone up and running for 215 hours in standby or provide 9 hours of talk time. In conditions of Moscow networks one charge’s lifetime averaged 2 days at 2 hours of calls and up to 5 hours of music. It takes the battery about 2 hours to charge up from empty to full.

In terms of battery life, this handset is pretty much in line with the Nokia 6300.

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USB, Bluetooth

USB. The Nokia 6500 classic makes use of a microUSB slot placed on the top end. This socket kicks in when you connect data cable, headset or charger. At that, with data cable plugged in, you will have the battery charged.

The vendor says that the handset supports USB 2.0, and it does indeed, in USB Mass Storage mode the connection via USB cable puts up medium data transfer speed which makes up about 500-600 Kb/s. This is slower than the Motorola RAZR2 V8, which also comes installed with microUSB-socket.

On connection you can pick USB Mass Storage, PC Studio or modem mode. Depending on your choice, the handset starts recharging the cell. It has no support for MTP, though, so you will have to upload all your tunes manually. The selection of folders, when music gets identified is limited to a couple of pre-installed directories, and it is unclear whether this is going to hold up in commercial units.

Bluetooth. The 6500 Classic comes equipped with EDR-enabled version 2.0. The device sports the following profiles:

  • Dial-Up Networking Profile
  • Generic Access Profile
  • Generic Object Exchange Profile
  • Object Push Profile
  • Serial Port Profile
  • Handsfree Profile
  • Headset Profile
  • Synchronization Profile
  • Basic Image Profile
  • File Transfer Profile
  • HID (host) Profile
  • Stereo Advanced Audio Distribution Profile
  • Advanced Audio/Video Remote Conference Profile

The Bluetooth implementation is, as always though, nothing to complain about, we encountered no issues with handling this type of connections. The stereo-headset also works fine.

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The model has received a camera model absolutely identical to that of the Nokia 6300 with no substantial changes. That’s why we are taking the camera review and sample shots from the respective article.

This handset has 2mpx camera (CMOS) which is not that much by today’s standards, but it is still pretty enough for a middle class model. Nokia decided not to bet on camera part, it is more of an optional feature. This is why camera’s module that was selected for 6233 is one of the cheapest, and provides average quality, if not to say bad one. In dark conditions camera refuses to work normally, exposure time increases and every movement of your hand makes within that time leads to blurry image in the end. Shooting during daytime in the street qualifies as being in these “dark conditions”.

The following resolutions are supported:

  • 1600x1200;
  • 1280x960;
  • 800x600;
  • 640x480;
  • 320x240;
  • 160x120.

Two minimal resolutions were added for creating photos that would fit as wallpapers for display. Three JPEG compression types are supported: basic, normal, high. Considering the fact that photos do not blow your imagination away, it is better to set maximal quality, it won’t be worse than it is.

Shutter sound can be disabled, there is 8x digital zoom, but there is no reason to use it. You can save photos on internal memory.

Some effects can be applied to already made photos, should they be used initially – it is up to you to decide. Such effects as False Colours, Greyscale, Sepia, Negative, Solarize are available.

(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

Those who love to shoot a lot of photos at once, there is corresponding mode for you – camera makes up to 3 shots at a time, all settings remain similar to selected for single shot, including resolution. There is auto-timer for self-shots.

Video. Handset allows recording video in 3GP format, available resolution – 128x96 pixels, or 176x144 pixels. Recording quality is divided into three parameters. You can limit recording’s length, but it also can be limitless, until memory runs out (of memory card or internal memory). Effects can be applied for video just as they can be applied for photos, they are all the same.

Video sample 1 (3gp, 336 Kb) >>>
Video sample 2 (3gp, 224 Kb) >>>
Video sample 3 (3gp, 300 Kb) >>>

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Themes, applications, games

The handset comes pre-installed with a number of themes that make the difference in terms of its looks; all themes are well-designed and match the phone’s image.

The standard suite of applications includes Unit Converter, Nokia Sensor. Select market might get some other games and applications. Java can be loaded over the air or directly into the memory bank, no caps on file size.

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S40 5th edition features

Technically, this platform update, compared to the previous devices, should not bring any tremendous changes – 90% of the functionality has remained unchanged, nevertheless multitasking, so craved for in this version of S40, is still not here. But there is a unified message editor, meaning that you see a bar of icons at the display’s foot and can boost the message with any content, so that the 5th edition really resembles S60 platform.

Music player is the biggest upgrade, which enables us to deem S40 5th edition an interesting and important update. First up, the player has got its looks revamped and also further capabilities for customization, allowing you to pick skins (for now, about 7 of them). Not only does a skin alter the palette, it also reassigns all controls, data fields and so on. This alone automatically puts the player ahead of Sony Ericsson’s products, which can’t sport such functionality as of today.

Regrettably, the headset you get out of the box is quite average and certainly won’t blow you away with waves of quality, and you can’t connect an own headset.

As for the rest of the player’s abilities, they are pretty much par for the course, the lists have been changed a little, now they are drawn up dynamically, which looks smooth and works better.

Voice Clarity – this function is getting to be a mush-have for all phones; can be activated from the menu.

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Comparison with Nokia 6300

Two members of Nokia’s “slim” range, both have own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at either phone’s traits, hopefully, somebody might find this useful.

Nokia 6500 classic Nokia 6300
Size, weight (mm, g) 109.8x45x9.5, 94 106.4x43.6x11.7, 91
Display QVGA, 2 inches, 16 mln colors, TFT QVGA, 2 inches, 16 mln colors, TFT
Battery Li-Pol, 830 mAh BL-4C, 760 mAh
Memory 1 Gb built-in 9 Mb built-in, microSD uo to 2 Gb
OS version S40 5th Edition S40 3rd Edition FP2
Camera 2-Mpix CMOS. Video recording at 176x144 pixels 2-Mpix CMOS. Video recording at 176x144 pixels
Sockets microUSB for all connection types miniUSB, 2.5 mm, charger socket
Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, A2DP support 2.0 + EDR, A2DP support
Player Enhanced Standard
Materials Anodized aluminum, plastic Stainless steel, plastic
Price 320 Euro 250 Euro when released

Obviously, the Nokia 6500 Classic either matches or improves over the predecessor functionality-wise. On balance, the only drawbacks to it are locked memory volume and slightly shorter standby battery life. Higher price is the result of enhanced features and different price segments chosen for these models.

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The market hasn’t seen to many devices housed in candy-bar form-factor that can sport wafer-thin design. Technically, the Samsung U100 is one of these, but this is the slimmest solution around with no big storage or memory expansion slot, that’s why it is pretty much pointless to include it into this face-off. The Sony Ericsson W880i wants to seem a direct competitor; however it does have somewhat different positioning. Though, the Motorola SLVR L9 also qualifies as an indirect rival.

Nokia 6500 classic Sony Ericsson W880i Motorola SLVR L9
Size, weight (mm, g) 109.8x45x9.5, 94 103x47х9.4, 73 113.5x49x11.5, 98
Display QVGA, 2 inches, 16 mln colors, TFT QVGA, 1.8 inches, TFT, 262000 colors 176x220, TFT, 262000 colors
Battery Li-Pol, 830 mAh Li-Pol, 950 mAh Li-Ion, 880 mAh
Memory 1 Gb built-in 40 Mb, MS M2 memory card (comes with 1Gb) 20 Mb built-in, microSD card
OS version S40 5th Edition SE A100 P2K
UMTS Yes Yes No
Camera 2-Mpix CMOS. Video recording at 176x144 pixels 2-Mpix CMOS. Video recording at 176x144 pixels 2-Mpix CMOS. Video recording at 176x144 pixels
Sockets microUSB for all connection types Fast Port, 3.5 mm on headset miniUSB
Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, A2DP support 2.0 + EDR, A2DP support 2.0 + EDR, A2DP support
Player Enhanced Walkman 2.0 Java-player, default solution
Materials Anodized aluminum, plastic Plastic, metal plates Anodized aluminum, plastic
FM-Radio No No Yes
Price 320 Euro 400 Euro 300 Euro

If we compare the Nokia 6500 classic with the Motorola L9, then Nokia’s offspring comes out on top in size, screen quality, default memory size and player implementation. The only saving grace for Motorola’s offering is the fact that its price tag of 300 Euro won’t last longer than a short period of time after release.

The Nokia’s model share much in common with the Sony Ericsson W880i – really resembling retail packages, in both cases the user gets 1 Gb right out of the box. Functionality-wise, the players in these two are top-notch, but Sony Ericsson’s solution puts up a tad better sound (the bundled headset is superior). However at higher price, this product seems somewhat overpriced, as these two handsets should have equally heavy price tags, although by the time the 6500 Classic arrives, the Sony Ericsson W880i will have long since been rolled out. If you face the dilemma of choosing between them, you would be better off with your personal feelings as the guideline, either solution is tidy. Speaking of Nokia’s advantages, I can’t overlook conventional keypad whose ergonomics trumps that of the Sony Ericsson W880i.

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The volume of 72-tone polyphony is enough for almost any conditions. It also does fine on the reception front, as it stands up to all other phones of the current generation. The silent alarm is average strength-wise, but can be still felt while the handset is in pocket.

The phone will retail in August for about 320 Euro or 450 USD (in Russia). This is the key model for the manufacturer, so he will put a lot of effort into promoting it; therefore expect the handset to be heavily advertised soon enough. The 6500 Classic has turned out to be an interesting offering that deserves a place on your short-list.

1 comment:

krobinson said...

That's very elaborated review of nokia 6500. I like it. By considering its features I would love to own this phone.