Nokia 9500 Communicator

Nokia 9500 Communicator

Summary: Mobile professionals who need access to contacts, basic office documents and communications facilities will find that Nokia's 9500 Communicator covers the bases very well indeed.

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TOPICS: Smartphones, Reviews
29
  • Editors' rating:
    8.0
  • User rating:
    8.6
  • RRP:
    £499.00

Pros

  • Well integrated communications facilities
  • remarkably usable keyboard

Cons

  • Relatively large and heavy
  • expensive
  • uses proprietary expansion port

Nokia’s Communicator range of smartphones has had a long history, and the new 9500 model (like the more 'prosumer'-oriented 9300 due next year) shares a basic hardware design with its predecessors. Although some maintain that the Communicator, with its non-touch-sensitive screen and 'phone outside, handheld inside' clamshell form factor, is too large to be an everyday phone and not usable enough to be a handheld, others disagree. Nokia clearly believes the product has a large enough following to warrant an update, and the 9500 Communicator brings the range bang up to date.

Design
The 9500 Communicator is like no handheld you’ve ever seen -- unless it's another Communicator. At first glance the device looks like an oversized mobile phone, and indeed you can hold it to your ear and make voice calls. But you need to open it up, clamshell style, to see its full array of features. Inside is a QWERTY keyboard and wide, narrow screen. Not surprisingly, the case required to house all this is big, although Nokia has managed to slim down this new Communicator compared to its immediate predecessor, the 9210i. The 9500 Communicator measures 148mm wide by 57mm deep by 24mm high and weighs 222g. That's not the kind of device you can slip into a shirt pocket and forget about. This is a tool designed primarily for business people who require access to data and communications facilities on the move. It's certainly no fashion accessory, as is immediately apparent in the hardware design, which is suitably utilitarian. Three-tone grey, black and silver with nothing too obtrusive or ostentatious are the key look-and-feel characteristics.

Features
The 9500 Communicator runs on Symbian OS 7 and the Series 80 platform, and should cope with software designed for previous Communicators. It's important that a business tool provides a full range connectivity options, and the 9500 duly offers GSM/GPRS (plus EGPRS or EDGE), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Nokia has also chosen to also add a camera, even though many companies may see this feature as more of a drawback than a benefit. Nokia has been clever when it comes to RAM. Business users are likely to have relatively heavy data requirements, so it's good to see 80MB of storage memory. This is Flash storage, so it will survive if the battery drains completely. You can augment this using memory cards, although it's a shame Nokia has chosen MultiMedia Card, which doesn't allow you attach peripherals. For this, you’ll have to rely on Nokia's Pop-Port interface, which limits your scope. The memory slot sits under the battery cover, but not under the battery itself, which makes cards easy to swap yet relatively secure. The main screen is 640 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall, and measures 110mm wide by 36mm tall. It offers 65,536 colours (16-bit colour). The 16-bit colour screen on the front of the device, which comes into play when using the Communicator 9500 in phone style, has a 128-by-128 pixel resolution. Within many applications you can choose to use the full width of the screen or just 90mm of it. In the latter case a margin to the left shows information such as battery charge level and radio signal status, while one on the right offers application-dependent options. Up to four options are possible, and they are selected via four buttons on the right-hand edge of the device. The idea is that you get manoeuvrability within applications without having to call up the menus that are also available and provide a fuller range of options. It's an intuitive system, unchanged from earlier Communicators, and we appreciate the fact that the user has control of which of the two modes to work in. The supplied software range reflects this device's target market well. There's a contact manager, calendar and an integrated messaging tool that copes with email, MMS, SMS and fax; you get a word processor, spreadsheet and presentations tool -- all three compatible with Microsoft Office; a calculator, Web browser, image viewer, voice recorder, music and video players are also present. The software suite is topped off by a notes application that lets you save short texts to the main screen -- which Nokia calls the Desk -- with the minimum of key presses. The Installation CD offers a ZIP file manager and a PDF viewer among its additional tools, as well as desktop synchronisation software.

Performance
Our test device was not quite a final version, so we were not able to benchmark the battery. In general, though, we found this to operate within Nokia’s suggested range of 4 to 10 hours of talktime, 200 to 300 hours on standby with Wi-Fi off, and 180 to 240 hours Wi-Fi on. We survived for a couple of overnight trips between recharges. We were able to test the device's general usability and the software. On the usability front, it's the keyboard that impressed us the most. This includes full QWERTY keys, a number row and above that a row of application shortcuts (one of which is user customisable), along with a range of extra buttons incluing a navigation key. The QWERTY keys are small (10mm wide, 7mm tall) and there's no air space between them. They are too small for touch typing, but we found them plenty big enough for reasonably fast two-fingered or two-thumbed typing. Connectivity options are well thought-out. We had no difficulty joining our wireless network or using our T-Mobile SIM to access the Internet, and we paired with a Bluetooth headset (Motorola’s new HS850) and successfully made voice calls, all very easily and with no fuss. Wireless connections are managed via a common interface, so that, for example, you open the Web browser, tap in a Web address and are then asked which available option you would like to use -- your wireless network, your network operator or whatever else might be around. Nokia even offers a public Wi-Fi hotspot finder that will locate the nearest ones. True to its corporate focus, the 9500 Communicator incorporates SSL, VPN, Ipsec and WPA. The software is, for the most part, intuitive to use, and what it lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in continuity of use across different applications. It's possible, for example, to configure groups of contacts in one application and then write a single message to go to each member of a group in another. As already noted, the £499.99 (inc. VAT) 9500 Communicator is designed for a specific market -- the mobile professional requiring good access to contacts, basic office documents and communications. It manages these functions very well, and although it's large and somewhat unwieldy, the 9500's clean-cut, functional approach is appealing. Outside its niche the 9500 Communicator feels clunky and lacking any 'wow' factor. Within its niche, though, it covers the bases very nicely.

Specifications

General
Form factor clamshell
Dimensions (W x H x D) 1480x240x570 mm
Weight 222 g
OS & software
Software included contact manager, calendar, notes; word processor, spreadsheet viewer/editor, presentation viewer/editor, VPN, Calculator, File Manager, Voice Recorder, Music Player
Synchronisation software yes
Processor & memory
RAM 80 MB
Display
Native resolution 640x200 pixels
Connections
Docking cradle Yes
Ports yes
Slots Yes
Networks
2.xG GPRS
Messaging & data
Email protocols POP3
Messaging services SMS
Power
Standby time 200 h
Talk time 4 h
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Prices

There are currently no prices available for this product.

Topics: Smartphones, Reviews

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29 comments
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  • 10.0

    The keyboard, quality screen size and and intergrated wifi makes this the ideal portable business tool.
    anonymous
  • 7.5

    i am using the same phone and i have used several others phones but for 9500 its different buddy i think go for it nokia 9500 is superb. though its size and cost may once make u think but believe me after having one you'll never regret. it is advanced machine.
    anonymous
  • 8.5

    A fairly slow,
    The CPU is only 150mhz. Whilst some may argue this is enough, (And say "symbian is lean & does not need much processing power" - BULL! it plainly is slow!. In fact, if one researches the cpu used in detail. (Made by TI), One will find that not only is it the bottom of the range of the CPU's that Nokia could have chosen from, but it is also being UNDER-CLOCKED, The CPU being able to run at close to 200mhz!!! - So many thanks to Nokia for deliberately making it a weakling, just to save a bit of battery life! - Apart from that, excellent phone.
    anonymous
  • 8.0

    Th comunicator could change our concept of a PC for ever.
    anonymous
  • 9.0

    anonymous
  • 7.0

    As always, nice device but Nokia does not seem to realise that without proper software the device is useless...

    I guess the Bloob, or what was that games name which came on the CD, is the most used application on the 15 units purchased here...

    Multitasking sucks badly but firmware v4.51 should fix this.
    anonymous
  • 9.5

    Mine is in the post -- as soon as I get my hands on it, I will send my review...
    anonymous
  • 8.5

    anonymous
  • 10.0

    Though costly, this mobile-cum-PDA has almost everything you could wish a cell phone to have. Beautiful look and not-too-large like its predecessors, yet not to small for a communicator of its features.
    anonymous
  • 10.0

    anonymous
  • 7.5

    A round peg in a round hole. For the travelling businessman, there is no real alternative. The P910 is fine for viewing information but not so good for entering text.
    anonymous
  • 8.0

    The Pop port limits connectivity and expansion, Wi-Fi is nice, but the design is dated.
    anonymous
  • 9.0

    From what I have read, the 9500 sounds like a nice machine. At the high price and with a few negatives -- MMC rather than SD; no vibration call indicator. I would like to test one for a week to see if it fits my kind of work environment before buying it.
    anonymous
  • 9.5

    anonymous
  • 6.5

    This device seems a rather empty shell, and as new offers rather less than a Psion 3a ten years ago, or my previous phone, a Motorola V600. However, I guess the idea is that it's ready and willing to accept lots of 3rd party applications to make up the shortfall. There's bags of hardware (which, obviously, is the bit you can't download) like Bluetooth, infrared and Wi-Fi - something for everyone, I think.

    It will be some time before I get it to do everything I have been used to from my Psion 3mx, and software is not widespread at present! It's in colour and has a camera and a phone, which is good, but a bit on the slow side. Nokia seem to have comprised on the processor speed in preference for low price and power consumption, so you're sometimes left waiting for 10 seconds for an app to load. The Opera browser has a tendancy to crash occasionally, which is a bit frustrating.

    The keyboard will take some getting used to, and I think typing will always be a bit on the slow side because of the smallness and cramping of the keys.
    anonymous
  • 9.0

    This is my second Communicator, and it has been worth waiting for. My old 9210 has lasted 3 years, but is now getting a bit tired. The new one does everything the old one did, and more. Even better, you can get one for under £150 with T Mobile.

    Hassle-free connnectivity with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and IR plus the PC suite actually works without the incantations required to make the 9210 suite work. The device comes with an internal memory of 80MB, a 128MB MMC, wired handsfree earbud, a desktop cradle, data cable and a charger.
    anonymous
  • 6.0

    I have owned every Communicator since the 9000i, including two at one time, the 9210 and 9290. I can't honestly say I could recommend the 9500. First be aware, that if you are a current Communicator owner, most your existing programs (*.sis) will not work on the 9500. I had to buy all new versions of Sidekick, Monnaie(Finanz), language translator, abp etc.

    While waiting for the 9500 to be released, I started using an iPaq 3715 with the Sony Z1010 on the UTMS. The 9500 is more reliable, but 3715/1010 combo is much faster. Two advantages of the combo is the maps on TomTom are more useful given the size and format of the iPaq screen, and the UTMS network can yield downloads of up to 40K per second.

    The 9500 is very slow in general, and the camera is only better than sketching it yourself. An Excel spreadsheet that's open in 1 second on my iPaq 3715 takes 6 minutes to open on the 9500. Saving after changes takes almost as long as well. After saving, the format changes are not saved. Setting up everything to allow my laptop or iPaq to connect to the Internet using Bluetooth and GPRS was an arduous task requiring hours. When doing the same thing for example using the Sony Z600 or Z1010 it took less than 5 minutes.

    Gone is the stability of the 92XX. I almost never had to reset my 92XX, but the 9500 gets stuck all the time and requires removal of the battery. The Bluetooth implementation was very poorly done, offering much fewer services than a typical Bluetooth phone. The wireless capability to surf the Internet is very slow, about a third of the speed of an iPaq 3715 connect to the Internet to the same wireless network.

    There's still the problem of waiting forever to look at pictures (200k and smaller) which are stored on the device. These same pictures display in one second on the iPaq 3715, but I will say in the 9500's defence, that the quality of the picture is much better on the 9500.
    anonymous
  • 9.5

    anonymous
  • 9.0

    If money and size of the phone is not the problem, then go ahead and try Nokia Communicator 9500. One limitation is lack of software -- maybe in the future Nokia or a third party company will come out with more software.
    anonymous
  • 9.0

    anonymous