Sony Ericsson S500i mobile phone review

Supposedly women have mood swings. Who would have thought it hey? Well if women can have mood swings, then so can your phone and that's the idea behind Sony Ericsson's new handset the Sony Ericsson S500i.

But does that mean it's sulky and frustrating or happy and easy to use? We get calling to find out.

The mood swings come in the guise of themes the phone has and in particular the control of two led lights on the side of the handset.

Clearly aimed at a female audience, the small 14mm thick slider is tidy and compact. Sliding the slider design up reveals a small keypad and the unit we had was a black and Mysterious Green, although you can get a Spring Yellow version.

Design-wise the keypad isn't as adventurous or retro as the company's Walkman or Cyber-shot ranges and for us it was a welcomed move.

So to that mood stuff, well basically it's a series of theme settings that change with the time and the date. January's colours are cold, Spring's warm and December red with berries. While the time changes the colours further with an emphasis on lighter colours for the morning and darker colours to represent evening.

There is nothing too clever about it, it's not based on light or temperature settings for example, however like the Samsung backgrounds that change depending on what city you are in (Big Ben for London, the Eiffel Tower for Paris) it is quite cute (hence the female audience reference earlier).

Taking this theme business one step further, the lights on the side of the phone also change accordingly and you can even go as far as setting them to match different actions and callers. If it's the mother-in-law you can have Fire red, while Mrs Pocket-lint could get a TuttiFrutti.

Themes and light shows aside, other features on the phone include a 2 megapixel digital camera revealed when sliding that slider and the usual array of Sony Ericsson software such as the ability to blog the photo as well as edit the image via Sony Ericsson's PhotoDJ application.

The software is incredibly easy to use and allows you to change everything from setting the light balance, red-eye removal and auto levels all from the phone.

When it comes to other features, music is of course supported and although it might not have the same focus as the Walkman ranges there is plenty here for the music lover including the ability to expand your music via the M2 memory slot on the top of the handset.

A small but nice detail is that the phone vibrates as you scroll over each icon on the main menu screen so you know you've moved to the next icon. It's a tiny detail, but a nice touch.

Verdict

The light mood senses are of course a complete gimmick that has no bearing on whether this phone will make your life easier for using it, however, luckily for Sony Ericsson, it hasn't relied on this being the main function of the phone.

The S500i is a very talented handset that offers plenty to those looking for just a phone rather than a PDA come entertainment device come laptop replacement.

Simple, but nicely packaged.