Cell phones get smaller and smaller and nicer and nicer. Pretty can only cover so much up, as I discovered with the SE S500i 'fashion' phone that they released in the summer of 07.
At first, the screen is dazzling and the piano black finish coupled with the green accents from the keypad and glowing d-pad are very nice to look at. Indeed, Sony Ericsson was thinking 'fashion' when they devised this little gadget. It shares the same dimensions as the W580i walkman phone and I believe the W580i uses more solid material in the construction. The S500i's screen is 2" and 320x240, and boasts an 'everchanging theme' where there are slowly moving animations and gives a futuristic and warm feel to the phone. The slide mechanism is relatively solid, with a distinct click holding on each side of the slide motion. The back of the phone and the battery cover are made with a more rubbery plastic, which is different from the harder plastic used on the rest of the phone. This makes it more grippy to slide, however, I felt this could be accomplished with a matte, but solid form of plastic, as it is very thin. All this plastic put together weighs under 100g and is very sleek in any size of pockets.
Upon opening, the green keypad greets you with a standard layout of buttons. Pressing the buttons has a good tactile feedback, HOWEVER, there have been noted problems with the keypads cracking. The unit I had did not have this issue, but the keys are glued in the center of the key, allowing it to tilt from side to side ever so slightly. This can cause stress, and since the keys aren't too solid (again, continuing with the theme of 'thin') they are probably susceptible to cracking. This has been acknowledged by Sony Ericsson and with enough bothering, they will fix it (but with the same problematic keypad). When open, the D-pad squeaks a little when depressed, which may have been a product of my own unit, as I really hope that Sony Ericsson didn't skimp on the quality control of such a product. The top and bottom 'wafers' of the slide are not held that solidly together, so there is a little wiggle room where there shouldn't be. The construction of the phone is probably the worst part about everything, and could be definitely improved on.
Software on the phone is decent. The Walkman media player v1.4 is a good way to listen to tracks. It's nothing special, but it would be ideal to use with a headset or A2DP bluetooth headphones. There are a bunch of small games that you can play, although with the troubling buttons, I wouldn't recommend it (Lumines is crazy fun though). The camera is almost a joke, as the pictures are without autofocus and the lens is hardly one. It shows up beneath the top part of the slide and snaps shots that would make my 1.3MP S710a laugh. Battery life is definitely not the suggested 9h talk time, as I've seen it dip to 1/4 after an hour of calls. Further study should be taken.
For a fashion phone, this gizmo will definitely turn heads. For a phone that will be useful well into its years, I doubt it, with a problematic construction and camera behind the times, the S500i wouldn't be a good choice, except to the people looking for pure aesthetics.