The new LG KE500 has an all-silver body standing at 97 x 47 x 15 mm and weighing 90 g. Save for the pleasing metal-like framing of the display, the front panel is quite subtle and inconspicuous. After all, we can't expect flames and flares in a mid-range handset. The fingerprint-proof plastic parts of the phone are a definite advantage.
The handset construction elicits no exclamations and no major disappointments. In open position, the upper sliding part has a certain wobble, both vertical and horizontal, but it's not likely to ruin your experience with the handset. The spring-loaded case slides open without much effort. A bulging brow at the top of the D-pad, right beneath the frame of the display, provides a nice pushing surface.
Besides the classic alphanumeric keyboard and the D-pad, a few controls are placed on the sides of the handset. On the left side are the volume rocker and, a further up, the lanyard eyelet. On the right is where you'll find the camera shutter key and the Red Receiver / Power button. This isn't a new layout for LG. We've seen it in KG800 Chocolate. Above those two controls is the protective cap of the universal port for connecting the charger, data cable and headphones (positioned again as in LG Chocolate). The top and bottom part of the handset feature no controls and elements whatsoever.
Most of the space rearside is taken by the battery, which serves as a back panel. It's easily removed upon pressing the release button. The battery is Li-Ion with a capacity of 800 mAh. It's quoted at 210 minutes of talk time or 200 hours in stand-by. In reality it would last you around 3 days. The SIM card bed is under the battery. To the right of the battery release key is the microSD card slot. Regretfully, it's only accessible with the battery removed. No memory card is shipped with the handset.
LG engineers have done a good job with the D-pad. Its focal element is a round four-way navigation key enclosed in a circle, which backlights in blue. At the sides of the navigation dial are a pair of soft keys, the dial key and the correction C key. Regardless of the touch-sensitive feel they give out, the entire foursome are just regular hardware keys. The red receiver key on the side would be utterly impractical to use in navigating the menu, so you'll end up pressing it to end calls only. Still, you'll need some time getting used to its location.
The alphanumeric keys have low stroke and ample size. Slightly bulging in the middle, they offer sufficient touch orientation. Typing is very comfortable. Every keypress is marked by a click, which is a tad louder than necessary, and may be disturbing in quiet environments. The keypad won't automatically lock upon sliding the phone closed, but can be set to autolock when idle over a certain period. Keypad backlighting is even and saturated, with a pleasing blue color.