Sony Ericsson S500i - Cracking Phone?

By: Darren Evans

The Sony Ericsson S500i is a mid-range fashionable slider that packs in plenty of features in a relatively compact design and is the non-Walkman version of the W580; though in truth there is little to choose between the 2 aside from the music-functions.

Measuring only 14mm thick and with weight limited to 94 grams, the S500i is certainly compact enough to compete with Samsung in the arena of slim-sliders, but can it overhaul the undisputed masters of the compact sliding mobile phones.

The initial signs are good, thanks to the stylish design and variety of opulent colour schemes on offer; Mysterious Green; Spring Yellow; Contrasted Copper and Ice Purple being what is currently available, though a pink version is surely going to come along at some point if the sales figures justify its inclusion.

The main concern relating to controls and ergonomics is the keypad that is revealed when the front is slid upwards. The keys themselves are firstly a little too flat to be as responsive as they should have been. More concerning however is the build-quality of the keys on the alphanumeric keypad. There have been many users reporting the keys themselves cracking through the middle at any point between the first 2 weeks and first 6 months from purchase.

Although I haven't had this happen to me at any point, it is concerning the amount of consumers who have reported this issue which doesn't seem to be limited to what colour paint is used as some have pointed out, but a major design flaw in the keys themselves which Sony Ericsson themselves have acknowledged to be a common problem.

The central D-pad is obviously following the trend of phones with a circular main-control that do not function in the same way as a scroll-wheel. There isn't an awful lot to say relating to the functionality of this control other than to say that it feels solid enough without being spectacular or innovative.

For what is a very compact handset, the S500i has a generously proportioned TFT screen, which measures 2 inches corner-to-corner and displays images in 256K colours, making it about average.

The 2 Megapixel digital camera offers average quality pictures that don't disappoint but then again aren't particularly impressive either, making it difficult to recommend buying the phone on that basis. This is surely thanks to the lack of both autofocus & flash which does limit the usability a little, though the interface is as good as ever from Sony Ericsson.

On the whole, the S500i is an average handset that doesn't really offer any benefits when compared with its Walkman brother, the W580. The issue relating to the cracks on the keypad is becoming well-known on consumer forums and is clearly a widely recognised issue, but in spite of this it does what it sets out to do relatively well, just perhaps not well-enough to make it worth recommendation.

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