Despite the best efforts of its competitors, Nokia still holds the fort in terms of phones as fashion accessories. And we're not even discussing Nokia's ridiculously expensive Vertu brand here. No, even though Motorola has the dubious Dolce and Gabbana licence and LG Prada, Nokia is the brand for simple elegance.
The Nokia 6300 was the first of this new understated wave, and it's been followed by two new phones -- but which is the pick of the pair?
Sure to cause confusion is Nokia's naming convention for this phone -- this looks nothing like the Nokia 6500 Classic. The only similarity we could find on first blush is that they're both "style" phones based on a 3G platform. However, there is one finish that's used on both -- a (dreadly) piano-black keypad!
The phone is also pretty solid, with its brushed steel jacket, but it can get pretty sweaty in your hands on a hot day.
Putting in a new SIM card is an experience, and you may need to consult the manual on first try. There is a small, and easy to miss, 'Eject' button on the top of the phone which loosens the backplate. Then, by hooking your fingernails into the groove between the plate and the phone you pop it out.
Unlike the Motorola ROKR Duo, once you are inside both the SIM card and memory card slot are easily accessible and ready to upgrade.
The Nokia 6500 Slide is a 3G phone with a simultaneous multimedia and business focus. This has been tried before and looks too much like a company is hedging its bets rather than make a highly targeted (and more useful) device.
You get a tonne of video features, including video call capability, a video-out cable, and a really quite useful camera. Firstly it features a 3.2 megapixel capture with a Carl Zeiss lens. The camera has an autofocus, and a built in flash. As an addition to video calls -- and helpful while on hold during voice calls -- there is a speakerphone option.
The video camera even has a white balance control, and a selectable resolution up to 640 x 480, with an added choice of three different quality modes.
Storage is courtesy of a 256MB mini-SD card, which is pretty small for a multimedia phone, but the slot will handle up to 4GB.
Though it looks very nice, we found the phone could be quite frustrating in use. Our first problem arose when we tried synching the phone to our PC. Nokia's PC Suite kept losing the connection between the two, and the only reliable way we could connect them was to forgo the software and rely on Windows Explorer.
Our second largest bugbear was using the phone for messaging. We found predictive text could be more annoying than most -- there appeared to be no way to spell a word unfamiliar to the dictionary until it specifically asked you to. Until that point, you were stuck with the word it gave you unless you entered the menu and turned predictive off.
Thirdly, locking the phone was also difficult unless you had just finished a call or were already in the main menu. Shutting the slide on most phones will lock it, but not in this case -- and there's no option to change it.
Otherwise, the phone was quite a decent performer: call quality was good, and battery life was good at up to five days between charges.
The camera worked well in daylight, with clear images and little of the "digital" look of other phones, but night-time shots were generally noisy and blurry -- even with the flash on.
Meanwhile, the music player is easy to use, and the sound is acceptable via the included headset -- if seriously lacking in any real presence. No challenge to the iPod here! Of course, if you invest in a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adaptor you can use whatever headphones you wish.
Like a lot of Nokia's new "style" phones, the 6500 Slide generates an initial "wow" reaction -- but unlike the Nokia 6300 in particular this quickly wears off. What you're left with is a fairly good phone -- if a little clunky -- that is only relatively useful and user-friendly.