Nokia 9500 Communicator review

£332
Price when reviewed

It’s hard not to think of the 9500 as the full-fat version of the skinny 9300, both in terms of capabilities and size. They share the same 150MHz OMAP processor, 64MB of RAM and 128MB of ROM, but the 9500 adds a 0.3-megapixel camera (640 x 480 pixels) and Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, it also adds considerable bulk. That’s fine with the clamshell open – cradled in your hands with your thumbs hovering over the keyboard, the extra size isn’t a problem – but it’s a big and unattractive phone when closed.

Keyboard layout is the same as the 9300, but wider by about the width of a single key. We found it just as comfortable to type on. Instead of the joystick thumb controller, the 9500 has a direction pad you press down on. While it’s still cumbersome to navigate web pages with cursor control, it’s more accurate than the 9300’s.

And, you have the ability to swap the network connection between GPRS and Wi-Fi while browsing. Corporate push-email is again an optional extra available with Nokia’s Business Center software.

In spite of the bigger screen, the two Nokias share the 640 x 200 pixel format. Our 9500’s screen was a touch behind the 9300’s due to slightly poorer contrast. The same 128 x 128 pixel colour TFT is on the front for phone operation. It becomes a viewfinder for the camera, although you get a tiny image of just over an inch diagonally to frame shots.

Like the 9300, this is a tri-band GSM phone with GPRS and EDGE. We found that the quality of voice calls was good and the battery drains slower than the rival Windows Mobile devices.

File handling is identical to the 9300, happily dealing with Microsoft Office files by converting them before opening. This creates quite a pause before you see the contents, but it can actually edit PowerPoint presentations, which could be a significant benefit for some.

The extra-wide screen is brilliant for browsing websites and reading Word documents and PDFs, but the narrow height means images, Excel spreadsheets and slide shows are short of space. You therefore need to consider what you’ll mainly be viewing before committing to buy.

Ultimately, the 9500 Communicator is simply too chunky compared to the 9300. As soon as the 9300i is available with its Wi-Fi radio, the 9500 will lose its advantage. And unless you specifically want the wide screen, the i-mate K-JAM remains a better choice thanks to Wi-Fi and a keyboard in a more pocket-friendly size.

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