The Nokia 6500 Classic is just what you'd expect from a Nokia phone. It offers a sturdy candy-bar design, a simple interface, a functional midrange feature set, and acceptable call quality. It's not flashy by any means, but it gets the job done as a communication device. Indeed, our only real complaints centered on the cramped keypad, the lack of a dedicated volume rocker, and the average photo quality. The 6500 Classic isn't offered by a U.S. carrier, but you can get it unlocked for just $279 from online retailers like Expansys.com.
The 6500 blends classic Nokia design with current styles. On one hand, it has a basic candy-bar shape with a durable metal skin. The phone feels great in the hand and we didn't worry about the occasional drop to the floor. On the other hand, it's got a thin profile. Nokia never jumped into the slim handset craze very deeply, but the effect works well here. At 4.32 inches tall by 1.77 inches wide by inches 0.37 inch deep, and weighing 3.31 ounces, the 6500 travels well.
The 2-inch display supports 16.7 million colors and 320x240 pixels. With such a high resolution, you can be sure that colors are bright and photos and graphics are sharp and vibrant. You can set the font color and size, but other options, like the brightness and backlighting time, are not customizable. The Series 40 fifth-edition menus are intuitive and easy to use.
The spacious navigation array consists of a tactile toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, and the Talk and End/power buttons. We had no trouble using the controls, though we'd prefer a dedicated speakerphone button and a back key. You can set the toggle as a shortcut to four user-defined functions, and you can activate shortcut icons on the display.
The keypad buttons were rather cramped, actually. Though they're tactile thanks to silver ridges, the black keys may be too small for users with large hands. What's more, the backlit numbers and letters on the keys are tiny. Users with visual impairments should definitely test this phone before buying. We fumbled at first when trying to dial and text quickly.
We were also disappointed that the 6500 Classic didn't have a dedicated volume rocker on its side. That means you have to control the audio with the toggle when you're on a call, which is rather inconvenient. The only other exterior features are the camera lens and flash, on the phone's back side, and a micro-USB port on the top end. Since the latter is also used for the charger and the included wired headset, you can use only one peripheral at a time and you must have an adapter to use your own headset.
Each contact in the 6500 Classic's phone book holds five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, a company name and job title, a formal name and nickname, a birthday, a street address, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). You can save callers to groups and you can pair them with one of 26 available 64-chord polyphonic ringtones. You also can pair contacts with a photo or video for caller ID.
Other 6500 Classic essentials include text and multimedia messaging, a vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a calendar, a to-do list, a notepad, a calculator, a speaker phone, a world clock, a voice recorder, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. Higher-end options are respectable; you'll find stereo Bluetooth, voice commands, audio messaging, USB mass storage, an internal-search app, PC syncing, a currency and unit converter, and Web-based e-mail. The 6500 also supports Yahoo Go, for direct access to e-mail and Yahoo content, and it is equipped for 850 and 2100 3G (UMTS) bands. If your carrier supports the service, you can watch streaming video on the 6500.
The 2-megapixel camera takes JPEG pictures in seven resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 160x120. Other editing options include three quality settings, a self-timer, a digital zoom, a multishot mode, a night mode, five color effects, and an adjustable white balance. There's also a flash, which you can set to "always on," "always off," and auto modes. The camcorder shoots MPEG4 clips in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96) and three quality settings. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 10 seconds, but you can shoot for longer in normal mode.