NEC 515 HDM (AT&T) review: NEC 515 HDM (AT&T)

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The Good Large, vibrant display; smart layout; strong call quality; excellent battery life; world phone.

The Bad No external LCD; supports DoJA not J2ME.

The Bottom Line The NEC 515 hits the spot for users who want a full-figured flip phone that delivers impressive performance.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9

Review summary

With the performance and the features that business users crave and the extras offered by AT&T Wireless's mMode service, the NEC 515 world phone should satisfy a broad base of customers. But be aware that this phone doesn't support J2ME and lacks an external LCD. If you're willing to spend a little more, step up to the company's newer 525 model, which has a similar feature set and size, plus a digital camera and a color external LCD.

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Big design: While the NEC 515 may not have an external LCD, it has a sleek style.
This flip phone isn't much to look at with the lid closed. The slate-colored casing is bland, and rather than an external LCD, you get two volume-control buttons. There's also an external multicolored LED that displays up to seven hues and lights up different shades to indicate an incoming call or to alert you to voicemail.

When you open the cover, however, you're presented with a striking 2.2-inch, 65,536-color display that's on a par with the one found on Panasonic's GU87. This viewing experience makes playing games or using applications such as the scheduler enjoyable. With the cover open, the unit expands to 7.25 inches in length, giving it the comfortable feel of a standard cordless phone (with the flip cover closed, the handset measures 3.94 by 1.87 by 1 inch). We also like the nice, solid click you get when opening and closing the cover.

The 515 isn't as stylishly slim as other handsets. But with its roominess comes plenty of buttons, including one-touch access to a context-sensitive Options menu and AT&T Wireless's mMode service. In standby mode, the four-way navigation key gives you access to the most recent received and missed calls, phone modes, and voice memos. The right-hand soft key accesses the message center, which includes voicemail and e-mail, as well as SMS, EMS, and MMS messaging.
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Ready to beam: We appreciate that the phone has an IR port.
Business users will appreciate the 500-name phone book, in which each contact can include up to seven phone numbers, two e-mail addresses (you can have mMode and two POP3 accounts), and two text information entries (that can be used for street addresses). You can associate downloaded images with contacts for picture caller ID and set up to 10 tags for voice dialing.

The 515 also features a 100-entry to-do list and a 600-entry calendar. The handset's call logs provide more complete information than most units, including the time, date, and duration of your last 20 dialed and received calls.

An infrared port lets you sync organizer and phone-book entries between two 515s or any other phone or handheld with an IR port. If you don't have an IR port on your desktop, you'll need to purchase an option USB cable to sync with your Outlook contacts.

The 515 includes Java support for application and game downloads; the only catch is that it's DoJa, not the more widely available J2ME. This means you can download only DoJa apps--but no J2ME games and apps--which are available on the NEC Web site to the handset. The handset comes preloaded with two games, Star Diversion and Baseball, both of which look pretty impressive on the display.
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Clunky design: Though the two-plug charger isn't ideal, this phone sure has a lot of power.
We tested the GSM (850/900/1800/1900) world phone in the Chicago area using AT&T Wireless service. The call quality was consistently excellent on both ends. Callers never complained about being able to hear us, and the audio got plenty loud and clear on our end.

We didn't have any trouble accessing mMode over AT&T's GRPS network or using any of its features, either. We downloaded pictures and visited several news and entertainment sites without incident. This is probably due to the dual processors in the phone; one is dedicated to phone-centric features such as calls, and the other is for everything else, such as playing games.

Battery life was just as impressive. We got about 5.25 hours of talk time, beating NEC's rating of 4.5 hours. We also beat the rated standby time of 8.5 days by a half day. Both are above-average ratings for a phone with a color display.

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