The D-pad is dominated by the four-directional navigation control with a press function. Exactly as in W580, beneath the confirming center of the navigation key is the loudspeaker. The navigation control is surrounded by 6 other keys: the back key, clear key, Internet key the Activity menu key, and the two silver selection keys. The latter are the only control elements that require some practice. Otherwise, the D-pad is very comfortable and user-friendly.
The alphanumeric keypad is green like the surface that surrounds it. Although a bit narrow and featuring a low uplift, typing is comfortable on the user-friendly keys. Touch orientation is good too. There have been complaints about the keys on some earlier pieces breaking in two. Nevertheless we believe this fault has already been sorted.
All keypad legends are illuminated in intensive white, save for the navigation key, which is green.
The display is the same as in W580, of course. It offers QVGA resolution and 256K colors. Given its small size (31 x 41 mm) the image is especially fine and detailed. Colors are so deep, that they look almost unnatural. Brightness can be adjusted and display legibility under direct sunlight is ok.
As we already complained in the section on color effects, the display enters power saving mode after a certain time of inactivity. You are left with no other option of checking missed events but powering it back up.
A novel feature seen in S500 is the Dynamic Themes which transform the menu themes, patterns and animated wallpapers as day turns night, or as the seasons change. We first saw that feature on the Sony Ericsson T650, however the S500 was made market available earlier than the T650. During the day, for example, butterflies hover over flowers, while at night fireflies set the scene alight. The main menu changes at night too. What's more, at night the side LEDs turn from green to blue. The themes and backgrounds will change with the seasons too. We had the display showing light rainfall, while the day before, leaves were falling on the ground. Looks like fireworks on New Year's Eve guaranteed...
The other dynamic theme is not so elaborate. The only visible change here is the change of background color in stand-by from white to black when day turns night. When you apply this theme, the main menu opens as a horizontal band of big icons. Each move inside the menu is marked by a vibration. The other themes work with menus organized in a grid.
Another application worth mentioning is the activity menu. It has its own dedicated key and consists of 4 tabs. The first one gives access to new events, the second tab is Running Apps, allowing multitasking of Java applications. The third tab is called My Shortcuts and it's where users can add, delete or change the order of shortcuts to selected features and functions. The last tab holds the Internet bookmarks..
Most of the functions and features in Sony Ericsson S500, are fully identical to those of W580, therefore they're only touched briefly in this review. If you still would like a detailed description, you're welcome to revisit our Sony Ericsson W580 review. The phonebook can store up to 1000 multi-field entries, but the count of phone numbers it can memorize is still no higher than 2500. The contacts in the phone memory and the SIM card cannot be displayed simultaneously.
Note: Some display screenshots are taken from the Sony Ericsson W580 review, as its menu, user interface and functions are virtually identical to those in S500.
There are no novelties in the message menu, either. Plenty of users would have welcomed the option to change font size, but it's still not available. Messages are typed and read in 8 lines. A character counter only appears when you're only 20 characters short of the limit. MMS limit size is 300 KB and can contain virtually anything. An email client and RSS-feed reader known from previous models are available too.