Nokia 500 review: In search of Anna

GSMArena team, 24 October 2011.
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Disappointing 5 megapixel fixed-focus camera

The Nokia 500 is equipped with a 5 megapixel camera for a maximum image resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels. Unfortunately the lack of autofocus continues an unfortunate trend from most other Symbian smartphones we’ve seen recently. There is no LED flash either.

There are only a couple of shortcuts available in the viewfinder plus a slider for the digital zoom. The shortcuts allow you to allow you to toggle camcorder and still camera and access the rest of the customizable settings (at the mid-bottom).

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The 500 camera user interface

We would have preferred a few more shortcuts to be available right on the viewfinder. Also, changing a setting harkens back to the days of tap to select, tap again to activate, which should have been long forgotten by now. For example, it takes you four taps to change the ISO - the first to open the settings menu, one to go into the ISO menu, one to select an ISO setting and one to activate it. Can you pick which step is one too many?

On the other hand, the functionality is mostly there. On the Nokia 500 you’re in charge of white balance, color tone, exposure, ISO, contrast and sharpness. You can also go for one of the preset scene modes and there is an option for creating a custom scene.

Face detection is also available on the Nokia 500. As for geotagging, it lets you record your current location in the EXIF information of the photos, using the built-in GPS.

The photos look great on the phone's nHD screen and this is the most important thing for the majority of users. When stretched on a larger screen, however, the Nokia 500 images aren't so impressive. The colors are decent, contrast is very good and there's a reasonable amount of detail, but noise levels are way too high and there are lots of artifacts, caused by the aggressive processing algorithm.

Also the major missing feature – autofocus – becomes apparent when you try taking a close-up. Anything closer than 50cm is a no-go.

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Nokia 500 camera samples

Photo quality comparison

The Nokia 500 enters our Photo Compare Tool to join the other 5MP shooters. It actually did quite decently here as the side-effects of its image processing are less pronounced on the black-and-white charts than they are in real life.

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Nokia 500 in our Photo Compare Tool

Poor VGA camcorder

The Nokia 500 shoots in VGA resolution at 15 fps - nothing to be excited about. The video quality is also disappointing - the lack of detail, the high compression and the low frame rate result in highly disappointing videos.

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Video recorder interface

Here’s a video sample from the Nokia 500 – VGA@15fps.

Connectivity

The Nokia 500 is a true globe trotter. All kinds of network connectivity options are at your disposal - quad-band GPRS and EDGE along with penta-band 3G with HSPA. You can go pretty much anywhere in the world where there's GSM or UMTS signal and connect. The 3G is pretty fast too with 14.4Mbps downlink and 5.76Mbps uplink.

USB is version 2.0, with the standard microUSB port capable of charging the phones besides transferring data. There is no USB on-the-go support though. The phone is capable of charging via a standard microUSB charger, but not via a microUSB cable connected to a computer.

Bluetooth connectivity is versio0n 2.1 with stereo support and there's a Wi-Fi b/g radio.

The microSD card slot can be used for transferring data to and from your 500. Unfortunately the card slot is under the battery, so it's not hot-swappable.

The 3.5mm audio port completes the connectivity.

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