Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: Nokia 500 - Affordable With a But

After using the Nokia 500 for a few weeks, I'm coming up with my personal review. I'll focus on the hardware part of this device, and some key aspects on the software side on the Nokia 500.

PART 1: Hardware

Nokia 500's design is somewhat similar to that of the Nokia X6. It has the straight sides but also has the curvy bottoms. The screen size hasn't also changed at all. Still at 3.2-inches with 640x480 resolution, things look crisp and sharp on it. The screen is not an AMOLED one, it's just the LCD type same as on the E6. The brightness is good, but the sunlight legibility is bad. However, that's not unusual on the LCD family.

Below the screen you will find the three buttons - the answer key, menu key, and the end call key that also serves as the power button. All three keys are under a single plastic pane. Just above the end call key is the microphone. It could have been placed below instead, it looks odd. On the top is the earpiece, and the usual Nokia logo. The bezel surrounding the screen is a little bit large, but then, the phone could have been more smaller if the bezel is also small, which will make handling much hard.

Turning on the back, you will find the large cover in matte finish. It basically covers the whole back part of the phone itself. Just slide it out, and you can access the battery, sim card slot, and the memory card slot.You will also find the 5 Megapixels camera, and the loudspeaker. Sadly, there is no glass cover on the camera part, the back case has a hole over that part, which makes it vulnerable to scratches and dusts. The loudspeaker of the Nokia 500 is surprisingly good. It's loud, it's clear. It's a bit louder than the N9 and Lumia 800.

On the top end of the Nokia 500, there's the 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, the microUSB port, and the 2 millimeter charging port. You can also charge the Nokia 500 using the microUSB port, which is not new to Nokia devices.

On the bottom of the phone you'll only find the lanyard hole.

On the right side of the phone you'll find the volume rocker, and the lock button. The buttons on the side are a little bit tiny, but they are pretty easy to reach with one-handed operation.

On the other hand, the left side of the Nokia 500 is completely bare.

The Nokia 500 does include a user-removable battery, a BL-4U model rated at 1110 mAh. Further inside the phone is the sim card slot and the memory card slot. Unfortunately, the memory card slot is not hot-swappable, Nokia could have just placed it on the left side of the phone.

Again, the screen of the Nokia 500 is an LCD type. In this photo it shows how bright it is when indoors, and also how bad is the sunlight legibility when outdoors. The screen reflects too much light on it, making things displayed on it hard to see.

PART 2: Software

Before you read the details below, you may want to take a look at my Symbian Anna review on the E6. It's still basically the same. Below is just some additional things to note about the Nokia 500 in terms of software part.

Software... The Nokia 500 has a lot of drawbacks in the software side. Let's take them one-by-one.

Sluggish Performance
Despite having a 1GHz processor, the OS feels really slow on the Nokia 500. I don't know if the firmware or the processor itself has to do with this. What's more is that the Nokia 500 is stuck on a 256MB of RAM. You will also notice some lags when playing videos.

Another major setback for the Nokia 500 is the absence of the 3D hardware accelerator. That means HD games is off of your list in here. Sorry, you can't play Angry Birds or other HD games on the Nokia 500. The Gravity, a Twitter client, even lags when scrolling up and down.

Limited Apps Availability
No I'm not talking about the lack of paid apps here in the Philippines, that issue is now solved and you can now buy apps here. What I am talking about is the limited availability of apps, mostly games, for the Nokia 500. This is well because of the lack of GPU.

PART 3: Camera

The 5 Megapixels camera of the Nokia 500 is not on the good side. It's an EDoF camera, with no LED flash. Photos taken on this device is not that good when shooting in the night time. However, I found one rather interesting option on the Nokia 500's camera interface. Tap on the "self portrait" icon on the side and it will make the virtual shutter key waaaay bigger, so you can easily capture self portraits. Pretty nifty feature for the girls out there eh? :)

Anyway, I'll get the Nokia 500 sample photos on my Flickr account. Just visit this set and I'll upload them there.

PART 4: Users' Questions

I relied on Facebook on getting user's feedback/questions regarding the Nokia 500 so they can decide on whether to get a Nokia 500 or not. Here's some of the questions.

Does it have TV-out support?
Nope. The Nokia 500 does not support the TV-out functionality, probably because of the lack of the GPU that will provide extra powers that is needed to mirror on what is displayed on the screen.

Does it have a close-up (macro) mode on camera?
Another no. The Nokia 500 does not have an auto-focus camera that is required in taking close-up (macro) photos. It only has an EDoF camera similar on what is found on Nokia 701, 700, 603, E7, X7, C7, and C6-01.

Does it support USB on-the-go?
Not again. The shape of the USB on-the-go plug does not fit in the Nokia 500's microUSB port.

Does it have subtitle support on the video player?
I just tried loading a small video along with a subtitle on the Nokia 500, but subtitles seem to be not supported. I'm not sure if future updates will enable that feature.

Does it have GPU? Can you play HD games on it?
Yes. As I have already stated in the Part 2 of my review, the Nokia 500 does not have any GPU on board. Thus, no HD games available. I tried installing Angry Birds to verify this one, and yes, it does not launch.

Will it receive the Nokia (Symbian) Belle update?
Yes. Nokia has already confirmed that the Nokia 500 users will get the Nokia (Symbian) Belle update by Februray 2012. [source]

Is the speaker loud enough?
Yes the speaker of the Nokia 500 is loud, even louder than what's on the Nokia N9 and Lumia 800.

PART 5: Others / Summary

Now that you've read my review for the Nokia 500. It's your time to decide. Let me help you on that.

- Symbian Anna OS with Nokia (Symbian) Belle update due on February 2012
- Affordable at sub P10k
- Small and compact, easy to carry
- Loud and good speaker
- Full connectivity suite, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth
- Bright screen
- Good battery life, can last up to 1 - 1.5 days of light to moderate use

- Bad sunlight legibility for the screen
- No Gorilla Glass display, so this is a no-scratch-proof one
- Memory card is not hot-swappable
- Bad camera performance when indoors
- No GPU
- Limited RAM
- Limited apps and games can be installed
- Noticeable lag on the OS

So should I recommend this thing? Sort of. At the same price range, there are many competitors out there with almost the same or even better specs. But if you're really up for this one, go ahead. :)

If you want to know more about the Nokia 500, please click here. The Nokia 500 retails for P8,850 at Nokia Stores nationwide.

Thank you Nokia Philippines for providing us this review unit. Happy New Year! :)

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I own this . Angry Birds is included with the Nokia Belle Upgrade.

i had that phone and im very happy with it.But the things i love from its is the FORMAL AND ENTERTAINMENT DESIGN which look like formal but its to fun when you look at it like curve candybar phone,wow.Look like X2 right?yes i also have friend which X2 user and we accident exchange our phone because of the style VERY COOL....

problem which is POOR IN APPS.but to lucky because we had Microsoft in Nokia,no problem in presentation and works.

SYMBIAN ANNA ROCKS!very cool....
Symbian Belle which is very messy in home screen.
yes it has notification bar,but SYMBIAN ANNA STILL ROCKS!

Angry birds works OK.

When I bought the phone I didn't bother with Anna but installed Belle straight away.

There is a bit of lag with some things due to the lack of a GPU... but overall for the price ($175) it's a great phone. If you keep only one app going at a time you probably won't have many problems. It's quite snappy when scrolling. I suspect the RAM 256MB memory might cause some of the problem... but they also included 2GB internal with the phone and I added 32GB in the microSD slot. I assume the 2GB is there to take some load off the 256MB... although if you direct as much data storage as possible to your microSD card this should also help keep things moving.

The only thing I haven't got working yet is the video... which crashes each time I load it.

Photo's are very good especially under artificial lighting. The lack of a flash means you don't get the flash reflecting off glass and other shiny surfaces... so overall it takes photos much better than my old phone (E72) which did have a flash.

There seem to be apps for most things you commonly want... and that's good enough for me.

Battery life seems OK... but I'm still coming to grips with this. If you remember to leave stuff like wireless off the battery seems to last a long time. Not sure how long it lasts in GPS mode... but GPS used to drain the E72 within a few hours. Likewise web browsing seems to draw down the battery quite quickly

Seems to browse quite competently if you have a good wireless connection.

The video that keeps crashing is the recorder not the player. The player works very smoothly.

This should be a cheap phone to repair when you break it... which was one of the reasons for choosing it.

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