The Nokia 6500 Slide is one of two 6500 series devices that were announced side by side back in May of this year. Unlike the very thin and simple 6500 Classic, the 6500 Slide that we are reviewing today has a slider form factor, stainless steel body work, and an auto-focus digital camera that uses Carl Zeiss lenses. We tested a pair of 6500 Slide devices that Nokia supplied us for this review: one a prototype, the other a production unit.
The Nokia 6500 Slide is an attractive looking slider handset that is clad in brushed stainless steel with semi-gloss black plastic highlights. Due in part to its use of stainless steel, the 6500 Slide weighs a fairly hefty 127g (4.5oz) considering its otherwise reasonably compact 97mm x 46.5mm x 12mm (3.8" x 1.8" x .5") dimensions. Opening up the dual-sprung slider mechanism reveals the black plastic keypad and causes the 6500 Slide to grow an additional 30mm (1.2") in length.
Apart from being a bit stiff, the keypad is reasonably well designed. The stainless softkeys, call keys, and d-pad all work very well. The nicely raised edge of the d-pad is easy to find, and its center select button is so large that you would be hard pressed, no pun intended, to miss it. The volume control and the somewhat dodgy two-stage camera shutter key are located on the right side. The camera itself, along with its flash, are located out back. A simple release up top allows for the removal of the rear stainless panel that protects the battery. A mini Nokia charging port and normal 2.5mm headset port flank the new micro-USB data connector that is located on the top of the device. There is no dedicated power key - the red call key is used for powering up and down.
The 6500 Slide's display is capable of showing up to 16 million different color shades. I don't find it to be quite as bright as many other similar displays, though, and easily would have preferred a brighter 65k or 262k color display in its place. In its defense, the display is very easily viewed in direct sunlight since it is transflective. Above the display is a second :camera that can be used for 3G video calls, something I was unable to test.
The only other thing worth mentioning is that the stainless steel finish gets very dirty looking, as any busy mom with a stainless fridge can attest to. Otherwise, the 6500's design is good, and the device itself is very solidly built.
If you based your opinion of the Nokia 6500 Slide's reception abilities based on the on-screen signal strength indicator, you'd think that the internal antenna that is located behind the keypad was a very poor performer. The reality of the situation is that it performs reasonably well most of the time, though calls take a few extra seconds to initiate when the signal is less than stellar. More of a problem, though, is that the phone tends to drop calls.
We've tried doing talk time tests on two separate 6500 Slide handsets but were unable to get a valid result due to all of the call drops. Some happened after a half hour, some after an hour or more, but they always dropped eventually. The call audio quality is quite stellar, though. Better than any other phone I've tested in recent history when used on T-Mobile's 1900MHz GSM network. The speakerphone also provided good quality audio to both ends of the call, but lacked volume overall. Nokia rates the 6500 Slide as being capable of 6 hours of talk time or 13 days of standby time.
[Nokia has pointed out that, like the 6500 Classic, the 6500 Slide has been optimized for the 900 and 1800MHz European frequency bands, even though it supports all four GSM bands. With that in mind, our European readers might have less trouble with the device than we did. -editor]
The contacts system on the 6500 Slide is fairly complete in terms of data stored, and also offers a good multi-character search function. The interface might not be as pretty as those on some smartphones, but it gets the job done. The 6500 Slide has a very nice profiles system. All of the profiles can be heavily customized, and there is support for vibration alerts and even for timed profiles, which are great for business users and others that frequently change profiles (and often forget about it) for meetings and other appointments.
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