The SL500i follows the pattern previously set. At just £24.99, this is a mobile phone for those on a budget. It is available on a Virgin Mobile PAYG deal, and comes from high street box-shifter Argos.
The first thing to say is that none of this turns me against a mobile phone. Low cost mobiles that do a good job are fine with me. The other two Fly models I’ve seen have definitely fallen into the average category, but then they don’t pretend to be anything else. And if you want a very short version of this review, the SL500i does the same.
The tri-band SL500i slider is pink, and my, what a candy-pink it is. With its silver flashes down the left and right edges of the front fascia, as well as other dotted silver highlights and a purpley-bluey backlight to the front buttons, it looks like something that is aimed at a 12 year old girl whose parents should know better than to give in to the pink stereotype. This is further reinforced when you open the slide and are confronted by a number pad whose pale lavender keys are backlit the same blue/purple as the front keys.
Still, go beyond the colour and this is a dinky slider handset whose physical design is really appealing. Measuring just 80mm tall, 44mm wide and 16.2mm thick when closed, it grows to about 117mm tall when opened. It weighs just 90g.
I’m a fan of the front keys which are fairly large given the constrained space in which they have to fit. The navigation button in particular is big – proportionately larger than that found on many, more sizeable phones.
The general design of this phone is something the big guns can learn from. I’d like to see one of them take the SL500i’s footprint, slim it down and in general make a pocket and hand-friendly high-end slider mobile.