It's light, it's silver and it's animated. The K500i is theSony Ericsson K700i's little brother and a treat for mobile phone lovers looking for a new phone to give or buy for the holidays.
The K500i is surprisingly light given that its case looks like heavy loaded metal. At first sight, the animated wallpaper will catch anyone's attention, with variations of themes to suit both females (Floom) and males (Metalix).
The K500i features a 128 x 160 pixel TFT screen, capable of displaying 65K colours and provides excellent image quality, which adds to the fun of navigating from one animated icon to another, which seems to jump out of the screen when you pick them. Needless to say, the user interface is easy, fun and colourful.
On the other side, you find the not so typical Sony Ericsson camera. It still has the small mirror to make self-portraits easy, however, the lens also has a camera cover that the user can close or open to protect the lens. This is somewhat a good idea but we found that it can be a tad annoying especially after getting used to phones without covers where you can easily just point and shoot.
The keypad is convenient to use for typing messages using one hand or both. The Clear and Back buttons are located under the two shortcut keys near the screen. The five-way joystick in the middle of the shortcut buttons is easy to use although sometimes a bit taxing in trying to press the icons. Like other mobile phones, pressing the joystick down makes it move to the left at times which opens up a different menu. No big deal as users can gain a certain skill for this the more you use the phone.
It was a bit disappointing that there were no answer and hang up buttons (you know, the green and red buttons mostly present in other mobile phones) but then again, that is consistent with Sony Ericsson's mobile phone design.
One little complaint about the case is the pain it gives your fingers and the pressure on users' fingernails when trying to open the back case for access to the battery or SIM card. It's not everyday you try to open it but when you do, well, you'll know what we mean.
With its 88 grams weight and 102x46x14mm size, the K500i is handy for pockets and handbags.
The phone's decent-sized 12MB memory can sustain the user's stored numbers, pictures, SMS, photos and even videos. The K500i camera also has digital zoom for when you need to get up close.
With the video recorder comes a sound recorder as well. The K5001 also features the usual e-mail capability, instant messaging, long SMS, MMS, and QuickShare which allows users to quickly share their files with their friends. There is also an option of sending video messages to friends or just the regular photo message.
Video clips can last for quite some time, ranging from several seconds to over two minutes depending on how many clips you have stored or how much space is left in the memory.
All files are located in one folder called the File Manger, making it easier to browse through saved files under folders like Picture, Sounds, Videos, Games etc. The media player can be used to play MP3 files or MPEG4 ones although there won't be much space to store these files in since the 12MB memory is not expandable.
The K500i also has a ringtone composer, 3D games and embedded and downloadable Java games.
We found the power save option to be very good in terms of saving battery life. Alternatively, users can set a screensaver to appear, should that be their preference.
One intelligent feature we found with the SMS capability is that the phone remembers the numbers that the user constantly sends text messages to and so there is no need for the user to go through the phonebook to get the recipient's number.
By changing the writing language to German, Turkish or French, the text message T9 option can form messages in the language picked. For instance, through predictive text input you can send "voulez vous cocher..." well you know how it goes.
Battery life on the K500i varies with average usage it usually lasts around 3-4 days. Calls are clear and messages are sent instantly. Photos during daytime are also of good quality, however, night time shots are not as good, as expected. The sound through the speaker phone is quite impressive and very loud when it is set as such.
Although the sound and video doesn't really do justice to the recent Dido concert, it was still quite fun recording it through the phone and sharing it with friends.
Overall, the Sony Ericsson K500i makes a good all-round mobile phone. The handset doesn't have many outstanding features, but it has been finely tuned and designed to make it quite entertaining.