Nokia has been trying hard to get back to the top of the smartphone industry and Symbian continues to be one of the platform of choice despite lacking a big marketplace like the Android. The Nokia 500 was the beginning of the 1GHz powered Symbian phones. The Nokia 500 came with Symbian Anna, but now there is an upgrade to Symbian Belle making it even better.
The Nokia 500 is a typical Nokia Symbian smartphone in terms of the looks. The phone measures 111.3 x 53.8 x 14.4 mm in terms of height, width and thickness. The rich set of back panel colors gives the phone the youth look and yet the conservative and simple finish make the phone look ordinary. The rubbery back makes it a delight to hold the phone, but it is a scratch magnet.
The front of Nokia 500 is mostly dominated by the 3.2″inch TFT capacitive touchscreen. Below the screen is the bezel on which we have the mic pinhole. Below the bezel are the call keys around the menu key. On top of the display is the earpiece to the right of which we have the ambient and proximity sensors. On the right side of the phone is the new lock key(replacing the traditional Symbian slider) and the slim yet efficient volume rocker. There is nothing on the left side of the Nokia 500. On top of the phone, there is the regular micro USB at the center, the 3.5mm headphone jack on the left of it and the charging hole to the right of it. At the bottom, we have the lanyard eyelet. The back of the Nokia 500 features the 5MP camera module that does not come with a flash. There is the loudspeaker grill to the side of the camera. Beneath the back cover is the 1100mAh battery that houses both the SIM compartment as well as the microSD card slot. Hence hot swappable microSD card is out of the question.
The overall design and build quality of the Nokia 500 does okay. The phone can be carried around easily and fits in the hand like a charm. The plastic finish and simple design are not much, but the exchangeable back colors is a thing to note in the Nokia 500.
The Nokia 500 is one of the first phones of the Symbian generation to be powered by a 1GHz processor. The internal storage is a reasonable 2GB and there is also 512MB ROM for all the application data needs. To work in tandem with the processor, the Nokia 500 has 356MB RAM which should be more than enough for a Symbian phone.
Symbian Anna(Now Symbian Belle)
The Nokia 500 came out with Symbian Anna, but now there is an update to Symbian Belle. The latest Symbian – Symbian Belle has sure reduced the gap between the Android, iOS and Symbian. The significant improvements that one would find in the Symbian Belle are the new improved Homescreen with widgets, the new menu and the updated browser. The notification style looks a lot like Android. Suddenly, the Homescreens number can be varied till 6 and each screen can have its own wallpaper. The widgets got a size just like the Android and the size can be changed. The Symbian Belle is a perfect multitasking OS where the task manager has been unchanged. Pressing the Menu button brings up the Task Manager in which there are thumbnails of the various open apps that can be slid on both sides. The UI interface though changed has not offered better fluidity. There are some lags here and there, but it is the trademark of Symbian and that is exactly what we get in Nokia 500.
The File Manager is one of those very few things that makes a Symbian user very proud. The solid File manager in Nokia 500 offers all the options that one needs to have regarding files. The image gallery has undergone some serious design change. Images are now displayed in rows in which there are 3 photos and there is no kinetic scrolling now. There is support for pinch to zoom and once the user zooms in then there is kinetic scrolling making the things much better. The music player has not changed much since the Symbian^3 update. Songs are automatically arranged into albums(quite basic) and Nokia have introduced the Cover Flow thing to add some color to otherwise dull music player. Thought the music player of the Nokia 500 is a little short on eye-candy, it makes up with some decent functionality. The video player is where the Nokia 500 suffers. Despite packing a very powerful 1GHz processor, the Nokia 500 doesn’t play big files. The maximum limit is HVGA files which is a big letdown for those who’d love to watch videos on their phones. There is an onboard FM Radio along with RDS for all the music needs when you are bored of your memory card. The audio quality in Nokia 500 is excellent.
The camera in Nokia 500 is a 5MP one and is capable of shooting images up to a resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels. The camera is kind of a let down here because there is no Auto-Focus and no LED flash. The camera UI is too simple to be good. There are only a couple of shortcuts – one to toggle between Video and Photo and the other for options. Also there is a slider for the zoom. There is functionality in the camera, but it takes a lot of touch and tap to get to the menu and come back. There just could have been more shortcuts on the viewfinder. There is face-detection as well as geo-tagging. The photos look great on the phone screen, but are not that impressive when seen in a bigger screen. There is just too much noise in the photos. The video recorder of Nokia 500 is again a let down. The video recording takes place at 15fps with VGA resolution – a fact that would not awake many. The quality of the video is nothing to brag about either.
Browser and App Support
The browser is a decent little one that does a good job in rendering a web page quickly. Also there are some features like password autofill and all. The new tab button seems to work fine which had some issues. There is kinetic scrolling thanks to the Symbian Belle update. There is support for Flash Lite 4.0. The browser does manage to play embedded videos up to 360p, but all sound and video choppy. The browser comes with laggy and choppy movement, neither panning nor scrolling worked fine and all browser has to offer is disappointment. The Ovi store is great in terms of UI and everything, but the number of apps for Symbian continue to be a disappointment and the users have very little to choose from.
The Nokia 500 is an allrounder in terms of connectivity. There is everything that you would expect in a smartphone - WiFi, 3G, GPS with A-GPS, Bluetooth and so on. The Nokia Maps makes sure that you have Navigation free for lifetime. The connectivity is a complete package thanks to the microUSB.
Nokia 500 – Rating
Nokia 500 – A dying breed’s dying attempt gone bad.