Nokia 9500 Communicator review

3.5 out of 5
price dependent on contract

For

Widescreen access for visiting web pages, qwerty keyboard, Wi-Fi

Against

Looks like a brick

The Nokia Communicator range as slowly evolved over the last five years, but has the phone become just another culprit of the yearly update or has the latest version actually got something worth shouting about?

At first glance, nothing has changed. The phone’s design is still the equivalent of a brick and those looking for rounded curves, sweeping lines and an air of design coolness need to look away now. This is a phone that harks back to the days of the original Golf GTi and the Psion range of PDA’s.

The phone, like past models, has a standard mobile phone keypad and colour screen on the outside. To access the full Qwerty keyboard inside you simply rotate the phone around 90 degrees and open it up like a briefcase. Once opened, the phone reveals a large colour screen and a decent-sized Qwerty keyboard and the unit is more akin to the Psion than mobile phone.

With design credentials this bad it’s a wonder that anyone will want to look further, but putting the design aside the Communicator 9500 actually offers plenty once you open it up.

The main unique selling point is the build-in Wi-Fi b capabilities meaning you can connect it to any wireless network very easily. In tests, whether it was at our office network, home network or down at the local Starbucks, the ability to find the network and then connect to it was very good.

Furthermore the large 65k colour screen allows you to benefit from the wi-fi connection when using the internet browser as you actually get to see more of unoptimised websites that you would on a standard PocketPC PDA.

Great Wireless surfing aside, the 9500 isn’t just about surfing the web. The phone, which is based on the Symbian Series 80, allows you to run a host of applications. Included on the phone to start with is a Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet and presentation viewer (albeit only the most common features of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel (Microsoft Office 97 onwards). Still with the Qwerty keyboard, the phone’s keys and screen is big enough to make changes. We wouldn’t suggest filing a large-scale report on it, but as far as other smartphone keyboards go this is bigger and easier to use than most.

With 80Mb of internal memory available for saving data and applications on the 9500 is no slouch on the data side, and if you do find yourself running out of space the phone’s memory is expandable further by the MMC card slot also present.

For the multimedia fan the phone features a built-in digital camera - although only 640x 480, offers Bluetooth and tri-band connectivity for global travellers.

Verdict

An old lecturer of mine once said “You might have the best idea in the world but it's poorly presented you wont be able to sell it to anyone.”

Regrettably, this quote sums up the Nokia Communicator 9500. It ticks all the boxes. It offers Bluetooth, a digital camera, a decent sized Qwerty keyboard, Wi-fi and tri-band connectivity, but the package it comes in is so blocky, so brick-like, that you're unlikely to be want to be seen dead using it.

After five attempts you would have thought that the smooth curves would have won through but now, unfortunately for the public, Nokia still thinks it's hip to be square.