3.2-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and autofocus
Fine quality music player
Solid brushed metal design
Relatively heavy and not slim
Limited controls on camera
Not a smartphone
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Logic might suggest that the Nokia 6500 slide is simply a sliderphone version of Nokia's 6500 classic candybar phone, but who gives a stuff about logic?
In reality the Nokia 6500 slide is a very different mobile from the 6500 classic we tested recently.
Both the Nokia 6500 slide and 6500 classic are 3G quad-band mobiles using the latest version of Nokia's hugely popular Series 40 platform that'll be familiar to anyone who's used a Nokia in recent years.
But the headline features, look and feel of these two models part company soon after that point. Whereas the 6500 classic is a chic, ultra-slim candybar mobile, the 6500 slide is a more substantial sliderphone that has a smart brushed stainless steel casing. The 6500 slide bears more of a family resemblance to Nokia's high-end N95 smartphone than it does its 'classic' namesake.
Majoring on its imaging capabilities, the Nokia 6500 slide sports a 3.2-megapixel camera on the back panel, equipped with high quality Carl Zeiss-sourced optics, autofocus and macroshot mode. By comparison the 6500 classic makes do with a Nokia standard-issue 2-megapixel camera.
The Nokia 6500 slide outdoes the 6500 classic again by including a secondary camera for 3G video calling on the front of the phone, above the display - something that's missing from the classic's specs.
The screen on the 6500 slide is a larger 2.2-inch QVGA (240 x 320 pixels) LCD display too, supporting up to 16.7 million colours; this provides a bright, clear platform for viewing images, video, web pages and other content. That's just as well.
The 6500 slide supports all the regular 3G features, including video and audio downloading and streaming, plus Nokia has included in here a couple of browser options - Nokia's own surfer software plus the small screen-optimised Opera Mini browser.
There's a multi-format music and video player onboard, which uses Nokia's latest player user interface. While the Nokia 6500 classic is stocked up with a heavyweight 1GB of internal memory, the 6500 slide goes light on built in memory - just 20MB - but offers MicroSD card memory expansion instead.
Nokia ships the 6500 slide with a 256MB card in the box, although users keen on using the slide for tunes may want to spend a few quid on a higher capacity card. MicroSD cards up to 4GB are supported.
On the music side, the 6500 slide further adds to its attractions with an FM radio inside (another feature absent from the 6500 classic).
You couldn't exactly accuse the Nokia 6500 slide of being svelte. It measures a solid 96.5(h) x 46.5(w) x 16.4(d) mm and weighs a substantial 123g - a fraction heavier than the N95.
The flip side is that this solidity makes it comfortable to hold, and it doesn't feel like it'll slip out of the hand easily. The reverse of the phone reflects the digital camera aspirations of this mobile, with the minimalist brushed metal casing giving it the required compact digital camera look. The weighting and balance of the phone work in its favour as a camera too as you hold it in landscape format.
The controls on this phone are simply laid out and straightforward to use; there's the regular Nokia navigation D-pad in the centre, a couple of softkeys either side above standard call and end keys. The slip-down keypad has a pleasingly smooth action; keys are simply laid out in the usual grid pattern, and are large and responsive.
The side of the phone sports a camera quick access button that becomes a shutter release when the camera fires up, and there's a volume up/down key that doubles as a zoom control.
Sockets are all on the top of the phone - you get a micro USB port for data connectivity with a PC, a standard charger socket and a 2.5mm jack output. The 2.5mm socket is for the supplied stereo earphones, but is also used for another function - a TV-Out facility.
A cable is supplied that can plug into the phono sockets on a standard TV set, enabling you to see what's on the phone display on screen. You can display video clips or photo images, play games, surf the web, listen to music and even make or take video calls while it plays through your TV. It's a feature we've seen before on other phones, but it's interesting that Nokia has chosen to enable it on this mid-tier handset.
With its Carl Zeiss supplied optics, Nokia is pitching the 6500 slide as much for its imaging qualities as for its tidy design. The camera can take images up to 2048 x 1536 pixels, with six size settings depending on how you want to use the snaps.
Nokia hasn't gone to town on numerous settings adjustments, however. You can change white balance setting, brightness and quality levels, and set the flash. There's also a self-timer and a few shooting effects (sepia, negative, greyscale) you can add.
There are a few basic in-phone post-shooting editing options too. Taking shots, the autofocus works well, and the 2-step capture key helps you to ensure shots are in focus before snapping.
You can get in really close for shooting too with the automatic macroshot facility, which produced good detailed shots within a few inches - albeit with a bit of trial and error. The camera generally produced some pleasing images, detailed and colourful.
The automatic settings adjusted pretty well to changing lighting conditions too. Video recording is better than the usual cameraphone performance too, with VGA quality (640 x 480 pixels) recording at 15 frames per second.
It still doesn't have the smooth look you'd get off a camcorder, but it does give you the option of shooting reasonable quality clips for fun. Nokia has added the facility to upload images and video clips to the Flickr online service directly from the handset, which is useful - though you should be careful about incurring data charges from network operator if you're not on a flat rate data deal.
It may not have the built in memory of the 6500 classic, but the 6500 slide shares its music player software capabilities - which is a good thing. Load up your tracks, by either syncing with a PC via USB using the Nokia Audio Manager application (part of its PC Suite software), or by drag and dropping tracks directly to the phone's memory card in data storage device mode.
You can send tracks by Bluetooth too, and the phone is equipped to download tracks over the air from mobile network operator's own downloadable music services (check your network for compatibility). The music player supports MP3, MP4, AAC, eAAC+ and WMA files, and tracks are arranged in familiar MP3 player categories: playlists, artists, albums, genres, and videos.
Playback quality is very impressive, with a fine dynamic range and a hefty amount of bass flowing through the supplied earphones.
These are an OK sort, as handsfree sets are, but you can boost quality by using a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adapter and plugging in some quality in-ear 'phones or headphones. You can also stream tracks via Bluetooth to suitable wireless headphones (or one of the growing number of Bluetooth speaker systems).
You can play tracks back (loudly) through the speaker in the back of the phone, but the metal casing does veer sound towards vibrating-tinny at top volume. The 6500 slide's FM radio function is a welcome extra too, giving you some extra free music for your cash.
Other features installed by Nokia include a regular browser, plus an alternative Opera Mini browser application. Opera Mini reconfigures regular web pages to make them user friendly and easily scrollable on limited mobile phone displays. Even with 3G boosting the regular browser, the Opera Mini app can prove a useful - and better - option for browsing some websites.
Nokia has set-up the 6500 slide with a selection of other web-based applications too. It has included an internet Search facility and embedded the Yahoo! Go mobile application - which includes a widgets style carousel of automatically updated information services plus fast access to a variety of options including email, maps, oneSearch and Flickr.
The usual Nokia Download! Service is included, for buying content. Nokia has also included its Sensor Bluetooth-based short-range social networking application, and a Bluetooth-operated Presenter remote control program for PCs.
Other functions include push email with attachment support and instant messaging, plus there's the usual spread of Nokia organiser options - calendar, notes, to-do lists and contacts can be synced with a PC using Nokia PC Suite.
Calculator and stopwatch functions are included, plus there are World Clock and Convertor apps in the Applications Collection folder. Gamers might appreciate the five games loaded up here - Backgammon, Golf Tour, Highroller Casino, Rally 3D and Snake III.
Nokia quotes the battery life of the 6500 slide as up to 6 hours talktime or up to 320 hours (over 13 days), which is far better than the ultraslim 6500 classic's staying power.
With generous use of the phone's functions, we managed 3-4 days between charging, though sustained music listening will reduce juice considerably. Call performance was excellent, with no issues about signal strength despite the metal casing.
The Nokia 6500 slide may not be a groundbreaking mobile in terms of functionality or looks, and some may not like its solid design. But it does offer a generous spread of features - including a decent camera and fine music player - and a high-level performance in a refined, smooth design that's bound to attract many admirers.
Ease of use: 8
Call quality: 9
> 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone
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