The screen measures just 71mm (2.8 inches) across the diagonal, so its 240x320 pixels are crammed into a smaller than usual space. This makes for increased definition but it does mean that everything on-screen is smaller than on a standard-sized Pocket PC with a 75-90mm screen. If you're concerned about your eyes coping with this, try before you buy.
The integrated 1.3-megapixel digital camera has a self-portrait mirror, but no flash. It captures stills at up to 1280x960 pixels (other supported resolutions are 640x480, 240x320 and 120x160). There are additional shooting modes for picture ID contacts and for video (at 240x320, 144x176 and 96x120) and a special setting for MMS video. There's also a range of ambience settings, up to 8x digital zoom and several preset frames for stills.
Voice dialling is available -- you can use voice tags previously set up for contacts, or simply speak the phone number you want to call. To its credit, the device recognised the first number we yelled at it, and thereafter worked well.
Orange has customised the SPV M500 in various ways. The Today Screen has been tweaked to include a shortcut to Bluetooth, a switcher between portrait and landscape screen orientation, and a small icon bar that provides information about battery level, a screen brightness button, shortcuts to Pocket Outlook and Pocket Internet Explorer, and shows current GPRS usage. Tapping an icon on this bar calls up an advanced GPRS usage monitor.
Additional built-in applications (over and above those that come as standard with Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Second Edition Phone Edition) include both local and over-the-air backup services, viewers for PowerPoint and PDF files, a manager for Java applications and access to Orange's Web-based services. None of this is particularly novel, but it does augment the standard fare nicely.
Orange quotes the SPV M500's battery life at 5 hours' talk time and 7.5 days on standby. Under our usual MP3-looping battery rundown test, the SPV M500 delivered a total of 6 hours and 15 minutes of battery life, losing the ability to access the SD card (the file source) after 5 hours and 17 minutes.
As far as usability and ergonomics are concerned, the news is mixed. A compact handheld like the SPV M500 is much more comfortable to hold to the ear for voice calls than standard-sized devices, but the trade-off is the smaller screen size.
Our two other concerns are the lack of Wi-Fi and the relatively small amount of on-board memory. If you can live with these, then the SPV M500 could be a good choice for anyone looking for an ergonomic handheld/phone combo.
Edited by Charles McLellan
Additional editing by Nick Hide