Nokia 500 Review

Nokia 500 is Nokias new mantra for regaining its position in the entry level smartphone market. Priced at Rs.10,000/-(Euro 150 approximately) and sporting a fast 1 gig processor there seems to be a big market awaiting this phone. I was personally waiting for the phone from the day it was announced. I was waiting for a low cost capacitive Nokia to replace the good old Nokia 5800 XM. I posted 5800 in classifieds the very same day 500 was announced and unfortunately someone picked it up immediately and we were using an intermediate basic phone for weeks before getting the 500.

Nokia 500 is the first phone from Nokia announced with its new naming standards. The new naming standards are clearer and will be followed for all new Nokia models. Model naming starts from 1xx and goes upto 9xx, 1xx series being the lowest in terms of price/features and 9xx being the highest. So, Nokia 500 represents a mid range from the Nokia stable. The first number represents the series and the subsequent numbers represent different models in the series. A higher number within the series only represents another model and not a higher spec phone. i.e., If another model Nokia 501 comes out, it is not necessarily a higher in the line phone, it only is another phone in the 5xx mid range series.

Read on to know more about my Nokia 500 which we named Oosaravelli(Telugu for Chameleon). Note that this is my personal review, and not an expert opinion.

Why the Nokia 500?
The phone will be used by my wife replacing her Nokia 5800 XM. I was waiting to replace her 5800 with a capacitive screen phone from Nokia. The C7 was too expensive for what she will be using it for, and the C6 was not attractive. Though the X6 was good, I’m particular about a memory card option which the X6 lacked and it was also expensive for what it is.
500 is a new generation phone with lot of new technology introduced into it, but falls short in some areas to 5800. Carl-Zeiss lens, Dual LED Flash, 30 FPS video recording and TV-Out. Though 5800 had a great camera technically, in reality its camera highly disappointed me. We also never used the TV-out. So I finalized on Nokia 500 and 600 as the above 5800 features were anyway never used by us.

Out of the Nokia 500 and 600, we finalized on the Nokia 500 and the only deciding factor here was the changeable colors which impressed my wife. Other than the changeable colour panels I do not see any reason to go for 500 as Nokia 600 offers much much more for a little price difference.

Main Features
1GHz Processor, 2GB Internal Memory, 256MB Ram, capacitive touch screen, changeable back covers, 5MP Camera, WiFi, GPS with free lifetime Navigation in most countries etc. etc., Symbian Anna OS

What it lacks
GPU – The fast processor is not complimented by a dedicated graphics processor and so do not expect it be a great performer in terms of graphics and gaming. Angry Birds? What is that? Don’t expect this phone to play Angry birds. Though some sites mention this will support Angry Birds in future, I do not expect that unless Rovio comes out with a new stripped down version to run on its limited hardware. Even the ovi store doesn’t list angry birds for Nokia 500.
Symbian Belle – Nokia 500 runs on Symbian Anna and may not get Symbian Belle. Though some sites mention this will get Belle, the official page doesn’t list this as one of the future device to get a Belle update. Within my limited knowledge, I think Belle needs a GPU which the 500 lacks and if this is true, 500 and Belle are not made for each other.
Flash – There is no flash for the camera
Front Camera – There is no front camera which means no video calls. The 3G is only for data.
Video at 30fps – Though it takes videos at 640×480, the frame rate is only 15 frames per second. So the videos are not smooth. Nokia should have given 30fps. Even phones like the Nokia 5233 capture video at 30fps. This frame rate is something that I think that Nokia should have supported in this phone at this price point.

Initial Impressions
Nokia 500 is not the best looking at the price point. It looks good, but still like a chunk of plastic. It looks better in the supplied blue or red back panels than in black.
Though the phones dimensions are not the slimmest, it is very comfortable to hold and operate, courtesy the curvy back. If you have seen a Nokia 5800 or 5233 etc, they look bulky than they are because of their flat back. Nokia 500 is opposite, it feels really thin when you hold it.
At just 93 grams, it sure is a very light and I sometimes feel I’m not holding a phone but a toy.
Screen is fairly responsive, not the best of capacitive but will do its job.

Typically Symbian. If you have used a Symbain phone before, this is hardly different. I was using Nokia 5800 which runs on Symbian S60V5, I noticed some minor changes. But for those who have used Symbian ^3 or Anna, this should be exactly same.

Physical Keys
There are totally 6 physical keys on the phone, Call, Menu and End(cum power) keys on the front and volume rocker(up and down) and phone lock keys on the right.
Call Key – It is not required for calling as there is an onscreen call button in the dialler. Pressing and holding the call key will start the voice dialer. This key is required for voice dialling/commands.
Menu Key – This key brings up the main menu. Press and hold this key to display the open apps. The phone supports multi tasking and this is useful when multitasking. If we want to move from one open app to another, press and hold this key and then select the other app to switch to it.
End Key – While in a call, there is an onscreen end key. The physical key is required only for switching the phone on and off.

Volume keys – They control the volume while in calls or in music player.

Lock key – The lock key on Nokia touch screen phones was so far a “slide to lock” key. Nokia 500 has a “press to lock” key. This is a good move and Nokia should use the same in the future models too. The slide to lock key is good initially, but becomes hard and sticky as we use it. It was also difficult to use when the hands are a little sweaty. The slide lock is also difficut while using the phone with back cases like the silicon case. All these problems are solved with the press to lock key on the Nokia 500.

Pressing the key to lock, or press the key and click the onscreen unlock key to unlock the phone(with the slide unlock phones, just sliding was enough, there was no need to press the onscreen unlock key).

The phone can be locked by pressing the key or can be set to lock automatically at a preset delay. Unlocking can be done pressing any of the front keys(call, menu, end) or the unlock key and then followed by the onscreen key. So the phone can be fully operated without even touching the lock key.

Phone Book
Virtually unlimited, only limited by the available memory. Supports multiple details including multiple numbers, emails, websites, notes, blackberry pin and lot more things. The phone book even stores birthday and anniversary of a contact, but it does not reflect in the calendar. You can stores spouse name of a contact too, but again there are no relations(i.e., even if the spouse is also in your contacts, they will not be linked)

FM Radio – Phone has FM Radio but not an internal antenna. A headset needs to be connected to be able to tune and listen to radio as the headset will act as antenna.
Internet Radio- Listen to any Internet Radio channel using the Internet Radio app. You can use your wifi, 3g or gprs connections. This will data so make sure you have unlimited data plan. While you can play radio using gprs/edge connections, it depends on the speed you get. If the data connection is slow it will take breaks every few seconds for buffering and not practical. Only wifi and 3g connections are practical.
Music Player – Nokia Music player, supports multiple music formats(MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, SpMidi). There is a home screen widget allowing you to control music directly from the home screen. You can browse albums using album art where in the album covers will be displayed as a carousel and you can browse by swiping to left or right to move the right album. You can also browse based on “Artists and Albums”, “Songs”, “Playlists” or “Genres”. There is no option to type the starting letters of an album or song list to directly search for it. I miss this feature which I was using in Nokia E71, just typing the letters takes you the desired album which was useful when there is a large collection. You have to rely on swiping through the albums or using the scroll bar to reach an album.
OVI Music – You can directly connect to your OVI music account. You can play the 30 second clips of any music and download from the music store if you have enough music credit in your account.
Shazam – Phone comes preloaded with Shazam app, this is the first time I used the app and it did not recognize any music I played at it. I tried English, Hindi and Telugu albums and not a single track was recognized. So I can not really comment on the usability.
Loud Speaker
There is only one speaker and is located at the back. Speaker sound is good, but not loud. The speaker volume is adequare for calls but insufficient for music play back, it is below average. Either use the headphones or external speakers. I’m not good at judging music quality, but as a normal user I felt the music quality is good, wish the loud speaker is louder like the one in X1-01.

Battery life is below average. Getting a full day on full charge seems to be difficult even with our low usage. We are not experimenting heavily, we are not playing games and even with low talk time the battery indicator goes down by two to three bars from say 8am to 2 or 3pm. The battery supplied is BL-4U which is 1110mah battery. With 1110mah, one expects battery life to be decent which is not the case with Nokia 500.
This is the first time I’m thinking of selling the phone because of the battery life, it may seem exaggerating but that’s the case.
I will soon reset the phone and will update about the battery life once again just to make sure that I’m not wrongly reporting. I’m going to reset the phone for one reason, I installed few apps from ovi store and then removed them. Though the phone only very few apps now, the previously installed/deleted apps might have left some junk on the phone. So reseting should clear everything and I can confirm the right battery life.
Call Quality and Signal Strength
No issues, loud and clear on both sides.
Box Contents
Nokia 500 Phone with black back cover
Extra back covers, red and blue
Data Cable(CA-101D)
3.5mm headphones(WH-102/HS-125)
Information booklet
Note: Full user guide is not included to contribute to environment. The phone has a built in user guide and you may download it from Nokia website.
Misc Stuff

Phone supports usb charging via its micro usb port. You can use a usb charger if you have, or use the supplied data cable or any other micro usb cable to charge the phone. If you are using pc suite or ovi suite, the phone will be charged while being used.

Unboxing Video

Nokia 500 Sample Video

Nokia 500 Sample Photos Visit Photobucket link.

Posted in Mobiles, Reviews
  • Ckalana89

    How about the battery life ? plz tel me about that ? did u reset this fone ? reply me ASAP

    • vishki

      In my experience, the battery life is good when the power saving mode is on. If the power saving mode is off, then it was horrible, requiring me to charge the phone twice or even thrice. I was really thinking of getting rid of the phone because of this issue and then tried the power saving mode. The mode magically transformed, now the battery lasts good 2 days. I also installed “Battery Monitor” from ovi store, this is really handy and it shows how much more time you can get from the current battery level, what apps are using the most power etc.

      • Ckalana89

        thanks for kindly reply 🙂

  • deepinder

    i was going to buy a new touch phone . so should i go for this or for samsung phone . plz guide me ………..

    • vishki

      This phone is good, especially if you are comparing with entry level Samsungs like Galaxy Y. This has more features. But the app market of Nokia is very limited that is where it is behind. Android market is huge compared to Nokias ovi and that is the Samsungs biggest advantage over this phone. But you are not interested in too many games and apps, ovi store should be sufficient and Nokia 500 is a great phone. I have no regrets of buying it.

      I’m supposed to update the review for which I’m not finding time. I mentioned the batter life is too low, but after 2 weeks the battery life suddenly improved multi fold as if 70% of the batter was sleeping all these initital days. Never faced the battery issue after that and the phone is consistent and has been great. The battery issue is probably specific to me.

      Another good thing is that Nokia confirmed Belle update of Nokia 500. This was initially not available for Nokia 500, but Nokia confirmed it now and should be available in Feb 2012. Once it is available we can update the OS and have all the Belle functionality.

  • Vishki, thanks for video and samples. What you which one is best Symbian Anna or Symbian Belle? I am waiting Nokia 600 then I decide, are you know the actual release date of Nokia 600?

    Keep up the good work

    • vishki

      Both Anna and Belle are based on Symbian 3. Belle being latest offers more features than Anna and should also have some Anna bugs fixed. I do not know the actual release date of 600 but it should be out in next 2 weeks is what I think.

      Personally I’m not at all satisfied with the 500. Even for 600, I suggest properly checking the phone for your requirements before going ahead to buy. Go to an outlet where you can actually try the phone and then decide after a lot of playing around with the phone.

  • Nitin

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhh man…I thought ul go for nokia 600…….hmmm so at last ur wife won the battle in btwn 500 n 600..:):):)
    Vishki at what price u got this…n is it havin symbian belle r anna???

    • vishki

      :). Changeable panels made all the difference.

      Cost is exactly Rs.10,000/- while the MRP is Rs.10,999/-. It runs on Anna, and I don’t think it will get a Belle upgrade though it is mentioned on some websites.