The long wait for slim phone lovers is over - the Nokia 6500 Classic is finally here. While other phone manufactures have been busy releasing a horde of slim-line models, Nokia have been relatively dormant since the Nokia 6230 handset a while ago. So there is quite a lot of expectation on Nokia’s current offering and return to the slimline market. And at first glance it seems like Nokia have got it right. The phone is small, thin and slick. It has all the features of the typical handset such as high resolution screen and camera. In addition Nokia have also been able to cram in their leaner Symbian S40 operating system into the device.
The 6500 Classic is one good looking phone and has an aura of quality about it with its anodized aluminium case. But let’s see if the Nokia 6500 Classic is up to the task…
After taking the 6500 Classic out of the box you are left to wonder what have I spent my hard earned cash on? The unit is tiny. The main focus of the 6500 Classic is to offer a handset that is small in size with all the bells and whistles that we are used to in larger counterparts. While the 6500 is small there is a bit of weight to the device so you will feel if it is in your pocket or not.
Nokia have included a 2.0 inch 320 x 240 pixel display which is not large on paper but it is a big screen for such a small handset. Just beneath it is the standard soft buttons, directional pad and number pad. The screen is bright and clear and does an excellent job of displaying images, photos and text.
While Nokia have not included a full range of connectivity options, the basic functions are there including both USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 2.0. The Quad-band network support also give the handset a greater roaming range while WCDMA support allows access to the web at broadband speed.
Due to its size and processing power restrictions, the 6500 classic runs a leaner Symbian OS 9.1, Series 40 fifth edition. This version of Symbian is not as polished as the Series 60 which is included in higher end Nokia phones. That said, the Series 40 operating system is fully featured and is capable of multi-tasking and performing most of the operations of its bigger cousin. In addition to it’s standard browser, Nokia have included the mobile version of Opera, a whole host of games are also included as well as the basic PIM applications and organisation tools, such as a calendar, notes, a calculator, a clock, a voice recorder, and a currency converter.
Geared towards the “fun” side of the market, the 6500 Classic is also a capable entertainment device for those long trips: A media player is included and allows the playback of H.263, MPEG4, and 3GPPo video files as well as AAC, eAAC+, and MP3 audio files. And while the 6500 Classic does not have an expansion memory card slot it does have a whopping 1GB of internal memory for your media.
The Nokia 6500 Classic is an elegant device and is encased in a very slick anodized aluminium exterior. The 6500 Classic comes in the standard form factor, however there also a slider version creatively named the 6500 Slider. Considering its features, this is a very small phone measuring 109.8 x 45 x 9.5 mm while weighing in at a fairly reasonable 94 grams. The whole focus on the 6500 Classic is to keep the handset as small and practically thin as possible and Nokia have succeeded. The device does not stick out when in your pockets while it does have just enough weight to let you know if it has disappeared or not. The antenna is internal; there are no protrusions sticking out from the handset.
Positioned just above the typical numerical pad is the main 320 x 240 pixel screen, and just under this is the directional pad surrounded by four buttons –two soft menu buttons and hang-up/clear buttons. The hang-up button also doubles as the power button and the keypad can be locked by pressing “*” while entering the menu screen. On the rear side of the handset is the 2.0 megapixel camera and its flash light together with the loudspeaker and the rest is the battery cover. Beneath the battery cover is the traditional hiding spot for the SIM card. The bottom and sides of the phone do not contain any other connectors or buttons. The only port on the device is at the top which is a microUSB plug for the charger and the USB cable connection.
Nokia have made the 6500 classic available in two colour schemes – a black and a bronze version.
User interface & display
As the 6500 Classic is a small device, it does not have the real estate to accommodate huge screens and full QWERTY keypads. However, it does sport a lovely 2.0inch, 16 million colour, 320 x 240 pixel TFT display. The screen doesn’t disappoint – text, images and menus are clear and vivid, even in bright sunlight. The only problem is that the Symbian Series 40 operating system does look a tad dated and it really reduces the impact of the screen as fonts and windows do look rather pixelated.
It is not possible to adjust the screen’s brightness however there is an options to have power-save mode on. There are seven preset themes that can be used to customise all menus’ appearance, background, screensaver etc. and they all are of a high quality and look very stylish. It is also possible to download and install other compatible themes through the internet or the Nokia phone software. The 6500 Classic is able to display 7 lines of text on one screen while reading an SMS with large font. It is possible to change font sizes (Small, Normal, Large).
The 6500 Classic features the Symbian OS 9.1, Series 40 fifth edition operating system. The user interface on the 6500 Classic is, as one would expect from Nokia, well thought out. There has been a lot of thought put into making tasks easy and this really shows. However, probably due to processing power limitations, the user interface is rather sluggish and it doesn’t feel as responsive when you’re jogging through the options of say, the active standby shortcuts. Nokia have provided the ability to set shortcuts which are both accessible through navigating the horizontal list on the active standby menu or by pressing the directional buttons on the desktop screen.
The main menu is accessible by pressing the middle directional button. This brings up a selection of nine different options (Messaging, Contacts, Log, Settings, Gallery, Media, Organiser, Applications and Web) in a 3 x 3 grid of icons. Number shortcuts are supported in the 6500 Classic in all menus and it is possible to navigate through menus by pressing ‘1’, ‘2’ to get to the Message Inbox application for instance.
To summarise, the 6500 has a solid user interface, but it is not as polished and responsive as its Series 60 counterpart.
Making and receiving calls
Call quality on the 6500 Classic is reasonably good. Both speakerphone and Bluetooth headset support are included in the handset. The 6500 Classic loudspeaker is capable for speakerphone voice calls. It is reasonably loud and clear making it usable in an area with a moderate amount of ambient noise such as a car or airport lounge. Also included in the packaged box is a standard headset. Despite being a 3G device, the Nokia 6500 Classic is not able to make or receive video calls.
Calls were tested using the Bluetooth connection and this worked well in both an in-car system as well as through a Bluetooth headset. The included wired headset does provide reasonable call quality however, using the wireless Bluetooth option is recommended to eliminate the wires. The 6500 Classic reception was a bit of a let down as I had calls drop several times in the black spot I live in and also when driving during the test period. The size of the handset has obviously restricted the signal receiver on this handset and this has led to the inferior reception strength. That said, it is able to connect to a wide range of networks including Quad band 850/900/1800/1900MHz frequencies as well as WCDMA. There is also a Flight mode, which turns off all transceivers on the phone.
The 6500 Classic's address book is limited to 1000 contacts. For each entry it is possible to store multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, home and work addresses, a Web URL etc. It is also possible to assign a contact with a photo or a ring tone for caller identification. Contacts can be sent to other phones via SMS or Bluetooth
For ringtones, Nokia have included the standard polyphonic synthesiser into the 6500 Classic and the ring tones sound reasonably good. However, these days people are more interested in using high quality compressed music files for ring tones which provide much better sound reproduction than MIDI format ringtones. The 6500 Classic supports MP3, MP4, eAAC+, AAC, and WMA ringtones as well as video tones. The 6500 Classic also supports several profiles and it is also possible to customise each of these.
The 6500 Classic includes all the regular messaging standards including SMS, MMS and email. The T9 predictive text system is available for quick text input on this handset – it is intuitive making message creation a breeze. Long SMS messages (up to 1000 characters) are broken up and sent automatically so that messages aren’t limited to just 160 characters. If sending fails due to a network failure, the message will be saved to the Outbox.
The messaging program also sports an incorporated email client which is able to handle POP3 and IMAP4 protocols. Downloading emails can be user-defined, with the client giving the option between downloading entire messages or headers only. The 6500 Classic is capable of attaching any file that is stored on the file system also including business cards, meetings, tasks etc to email messages. The email client allows notification and downloading of incoming emails of several email accounts.
Text input speed is reasonable on the 6500 Classic due to its T9 support and intuitive menu system. The only little qualm is that the keypad is a bit small which may be frustrating to some users. The buttons are tactile though so it is easy to feel around the keypad where you are and operate the device without looking. The directional pad feels particularly good making navigation a lot more enjoyable. Messaging on 6500 is generally a pleasant, trouble-free experience.
The Nokia 6500 Classic has a standard array of connectivity options. There is a quad-band GSM radio, able to connect through the 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz bands and also supports WCDMA giving the handset to ability to download data at the incredible speed of 384 Mbps. In terms of cellular connectivity, the 6500 Classic has comprehensive frequency band coverage, meaning that there shouldn’t have a problem roaming anywhere around the world.
Over shorter ranges, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 2.0 are available. The 6500 Classic uses a microUSB plug to connect to a PC USB port, recharge the phone, synchronise core applications and transfer data between the 6500 Classic and a PC. Fortunately with the USB 2.0 specification, data transfer between the 6500 Classic and the PC is blisteringly fast. USB support is made simple as the unit is seen as a USB Mass Storage Device in Windows. The only problem with the USB cable connection is that is the 6500 Classic uses the new microUSB plug which means that if you forget the cable included in the package you will be hard pressed to find a similar cable as this format is not popular yet. Bluetooth can be used for data transfer, wireless headsets and wireless headphones to listen to music as well.
The Bluetooth connectivity was tested to make phone calls with a wireless headset and with the stereo headphones provided. The transfer of data between the phone and a computer was also tested and no problems were encountered with either of these features. The Bluetooth support seems to be reliable and can also be used to send pictures or documents to Bluetooth enabled printers.
Because of the size restrictions, the 6500 does not have an external memory card slot. However, Nokia have instead included a generous 1GB of internal memory for data storage. The XpressMusic media player is able to operate in minimized mode in the background and its status can be displayed on the desktop when active standby is activated. The handset does come with a set of head phones, if you want to plug in a better pair, you will need to invest in a converter. Due to size restrictions, Nokia have chosen to use a microUSB slimline plug for this phone which makes peripheral selection a pain as this format is not very popular. Unfortunately, there is no FM radio in this phone.
It is possible to download music and video to the phone via the USB data cable provided in the retail package. Once connected, the phone will prompt to define the type of connection choosing between the PC Suite application, Printing & Media and Data Storage profiles.
The Data Storage profile mode is the fastest way to transfer media to the phone with a 6MB file transferred in approximately 8 seconds. The PC Suite profile connects the phone to Samsungs PC suite software allowing synchronisation of PIM functions (discussed in next section).
Bluetooth A2DP is included for stereo communication with compatible devices. While the multimedia capabilities don’t stand out, the 6500 Classic has a competent media player, with a large amount of internal memory and it is easy to use it as a digital audio player.
There is also a selection of games included in the 6500 Classic and these include Golf Tour, Rally 3D, Snake III and Sudoku. All of the games are of good quality and will keep you entertained in your idle time. It is also possible to download additional games and applications from the web or via the PC Suite software.
As is clear from these results, the Java performance on this handset is mediocre and nothing to get excited about. However that said it does handle the included games well.
The Calendar, Alarm Clock, To-do List, Notes and Calculator have all been thoughtfully put into the Organiser menu. The Calendar supports entries as appointment, anniversary, holiday, important, private and editable fields include title, description, start and end time/date, location and an alarm can be set.
It is only possible to set one alarm which is sub-par compared to other handsets out there. There are however, detailed settings for the alarm allowing setting repeatability, on which day it should go off, the tone and snooze time. One feature is that the 6500 Classic will auto power-on at a set alarm, if the unit has been powered down.
The other PIM application such as Notes is capable of taking notes limited to 3000 characters and the To-Do List can have title, priority (high/medium/low), due time/date and an alarm. A voice recorder application is included and is located in the Media menu. The recordings are limited to a whooping 60 minutes. A World Clock, Calculator, a unit Converter, a Countdown Timer and a Stopwatch are also included in the package.
Nokia PC Suite software is used with conjunction with the 6500 Classic and a compatible PC to transfer files and synchronize the handset. Nokia PC Suite is able to connect with a host of connection options (including USB, Blue-tooth etc). It can sync notes, calendar entries, to-do/task entries, the contacts database and e-mails with Microsoft Outlook. The PC Suite is a reasonably good piece of software and has been through enough versions to make it very reliable. USB Mass Storage is also supported for quick and easy transfer of data – the handset memory shows up as a hard drive in Windows Explorer.
The 6500 Classic also has a built in modem, which can be used with a PC over Bluetooth or USB cable to provide a PC with internet access. Using the WCDMA protocol, the connected PC will be able to access the internet at broadband-like speeds (up to 384Mbps).
Java is also supported on the Nokia 6500 Classic and all the Java programs can be found under the Applications submenu. Installing applications is simple: transfer the file(s) to the memory, browse to them using the 6500 Classic’s file manager, and open them. Several Java applications come pre-installed including an Opera web browser however the rest of them are only PIM applications. The following benchmarks were achieved with the 6500 Classic using the JBenchmark application suite:
||LQ: 248, HQ: 127
The build quality of the 6500 Classic is exceptional and an aura of excellence is predominantly contributed to by the anodized aluminium casing. All the panels are tightly fitted and the phone feels quite solid. While being a small phone, the 6500 Classic has a bit of weight to it and this is a good thing as you can feel that you actually have a phone in your pocket.
The back panel requires a bit of a tug to get off but once it is securely on there are no exposing gaps. Underneath the back panel is the SIM card slot and battery. Both are rather difficult to remove unless you have a small screw drive or long nails. However the tight fitting components are a compromise for having such a small handset.
The keypad buttons feel reasonably good although a little more flimsy than other models out there. Also worth mentioning is the good choice of materials used for construction. Nokia has used a combination of premium metal materials and thin construction to ensure that the 6500 Classic appeals to users with an eye on style, sleekness and quality.
In terms of battery life, the 6500 is a little disappointing as it only comes with a small 830mAh battery. Nokia claims that the 6500 Classic has a GSM talk time of up to 3.5 hours and a standby time of up to 9 days. While these figures are about right, in practice when using other functions such as messaging, browsing the internet and the media player, the battery life really was significantly reduced. Talk time during the test was close to the claimed figure however, it seamed that the phone always needed charging every couple of days. This is disappointing as the handset is already using the lean S40 Symbian operating system and should be able to maintain a battery life close to other rival phones. However, the handset is aimed more at recreational use so battery life may not be such an issue to that market. The phone takes several hours to recharge and it is also possible to recharge the 6500 Classic via a USB port.
As previously stated, using Applications and Bluetooth do have a serious impact on battery life so if these features are not used, then they should be switched off. The 6500 Classic should have sufficient power to last a couple of days even with heavy use. The battery life on the 6500 Classic is mediocre considering the lack of processing power and the leaner S40 Symbian operating system.