Before you even switch it on the Nokia 6500 classic is selling itself to you with its elegantly sophisticated looks. Nokia has embraced the slimline phone concept and squeezed it to an ultra skinny 9.5mm thin design. Beneath the tasty exterior, the 6500 classic is a 3G enabled mobile packing in 1GB of internal memory and multimedia functionality that includes a music and video player and full web browsing capability.
The 6500 classic is one of two recent Nokia models bearing the “6500” label; they may share similar names but the candybar Nokia 6500 classic and Nokia 6500 slide sliderphone are two very different mobiles. The slimline 6500 classic has a standard 2-megapixel camera on the back rather than a swanky 3.2-megapixel Carl Zeiss array, and unusually for a recent 3G phone, the 6500 classic does without video calling too.
Also, the 1GB of internal memory of the 6500 classic can’t be beefed up by adding swappable MicroSD cards – there’s no expansion slot on the phone, so you have to live with the onboard storage. Still, you can pack in hundreds of tracks, video and images on the device as it stands.
The external look of the 6500 classic is classy and smooth, with rounded edges and an anodized aluminium top half of the casing providing a feeling of substance in the hand, despite its slim dimensions. There are no fast access button, volume keys or much socketry on the sides – just a micro USB connector hidden under a plastic bung on top – to break up the lines. Up front, the 2-inch QVGA (320×240 pixels) screen is slightly smaller than the 6500 slide’s 2.2-inch display, but is rich and bright, capable of resolving some 16.7 million colours.
Some neat silver trimming on the front and the keypad stays on the right side of tasteful, and the buttons are large and responsive enough for easy control. The 6500 classic uses a familiar Nokia Navi Key D-pad and softkey navigation set up, and the latest version of Nokia’s hugely popular Series 40 user interface (there’s no Symbian smartphone operating system underpinning this phone).
The menu system is the usual easy-going classic Nokia way of doing things. It uses an Active Standby menu to give quick access to your important features, and the pre-configured softkeys and navigation pad shortcuts to features can easily be changed to suit how you want to use the phone.You can also add notes or have reminders for appointments and so on displayed on your tailored standby page.
That 1GB of storage is likely to get you keen on filling it up with tunes pretty rapidly, and loading them up is a painless process. You can sync them with a PC using Nokia PC Suite software and the USB cable provided, or by dragging and dropping tracks straight onto the phone by when it’s in data storage mode.You can swap tunes by Bluetooth too.
In addition, 3G connectivity opens up the avenue of quick over the air downloads of tracks from some mobile network operators’ music services; the 6500 classic supports all the regular 3G streaming and downloading services for video and audio content.
Tune playing here is straightforward. The music player has regular MP3 player style listings of tracks, organised by artist, album, genre, composer and you can create your own playlists. The player user interface is functional and simple to use without really wowing; however, the sound performance is excellent.
The earphones socket on this phone is the same micro USB one used for charging and data swapping, so Nokia supplies an in-ear set with a micro USB connector that are pretty good at producing detailed, nuanced sound with a far degree of bass. Tracks come across really well for an in-box set of earphones, and by adding better quality ones we’re sure you could get more out of it.
Because Nokia’s used a micro USB socket rather than a regular 3.5mm socket, this is more fiddly than most people will bother with, which is a shame. Stereo Bluetooth earphones can be used as an alternative, however, if you want to opt for a state-of-the-art wireless set to go with the sleek phone look. You could also use the reasonably good built in speaker, but that wouldn’t quite offer the same style (or sound quality).
Unlike plenty of Nokias, particularly around this price point, there’s no room for an FM radio here, which is a shame. The lack of MicroSD card expansion may rankle with other users who feel that 1GB of memory isn’t enough for a music player phone, particularly with the cost of multi-GB memory cards relatively cheap and falling fast.
Although the 6500 slide makes much of its Carl Zeiss lens, the 6500 classic’s 2-megapixel camera is pretty run-of-the-mill, though it does have a flash. The interface is quite basic, with a limited set of controls to tweak the shooting settings. You can switch the flash on or off or to auto, and change the white balance to cope with indoor lighting or daylight conditions, but that’s pretty much it. You can add pre-shooting colourisation effects and use a self-timer, but really the camera here isn’t a headline-grabbing feature.
Images can be reasonably good at times, and can be printed out in standard 6×4-inch prints in decent quality. Performance though can be compromised by variable lighting conditions, where the cameras limitations are shown up (see our article Nokia 6500 classic camera samples).
Some rudimentary post-shot manipulation of images – such as adjusting contrast or adding text, frames or other images – is possible too.Video recording quality isn’t up to much, shooting at maximum 176×144 pixels resolution. Downloaded or video clips, however, can look good in the media player, and can be displayed to fill the screen in landscape mode.
Nokia hasn’t gone to town on adding extras to this phone. You do get a choice of using Nokia’s own default XHTML browser onboard or the rather nifty Opera Mini browser, which sits in the applications folder. The Opera Mini browser offers small screen rendering optimised for the limitations of a mobile’s display, allowing you to scroll up and down specially formatted pages from the web. It can make web browsing a more enjoyable and quicker experience on this handset.
Among the other applications, Nokia has included a convertor application, a search facility, giving quick access to Yahoo! or Microsoft Live Search, and there’s a world clock function. Four Java games are loaded – Backgammon, Golf Tour, Snake III and Sudoku. Standard features include email support, voice recorder and a regular set of organiser options – calendar, to-do list, notes and calculator and various clock options.
On the bottom line of making and taking calls, the 6500 classic produces top class results. Its battery life is quoted by Nokia at 3.5 hours talktime or up to 9 days standby, which is less than some competitors in the slimline 3G mobile market.
The Nokia 6500 classic is likely to grab many buyers by its sheer sophisticated looks alone. It has some very pleasing features, notably its music player and heavy duty storage capacity. We’d have liked to have seen MicroSD card expansion and more flexibility on the headphones front – the micro USB all-in-one isn’t the best solution, even if the supplied earphones are fine. The camera here too is an unspectacular snapper, and the additional features on the phone are a bit limited.
None the less, the Nokia 6500 classic is a phone that has understated slimline style and elegance without being flashy. It looks like a genuine classic.
Nokia 6500 Classic info
Typical price: £200 SIM-free
2 megapixel camera
No memory expansion slot
Lack of 3.5mm socket
No FM radio
Verdict: A phone that has understated slimline style and elegance without being flashy
Recycle your phone: Sell Nokia 6500 Classic