Palm m515 Review

We use affiliate links. If you buy something through the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Almost a year has passed since Palm launched the m505. The first Palm handheld which had a color screen and could easily become the best PDA around. It had it all, 8 MB RAM, SD/MMC expansion slot, the sleekest and smallest design around and a color screen. Speaking of the devil, the screen was the reason the m505 became the black sheep of the

Palm O.S. world. The new reflective screen Palm glorified in the beginning, turned out to be a total failure everywhere but outside. One couldn’t see a thing, without using the backlight indoors, which of course, drained the battery after 4 hours. And even then the colors were dim yellow and milky, to say the least, unsatisfying. Then we’ve got the USB sync failure, which was a factory bug, causing the unit to stop synchronizing because of a static charge god knows where.
Don’t be mistaken, the m505 was a nice handheld, which could be much nicer without the bugs.And now let’s welcome the m515. I would definitely say. it’s all the m505 never was. Palm learned a lesson with the m505, and now we’ve got an improved screen and twice the memory. It looks exactly like the m505, has the same other characteristics, and if you don’t notice a new “Sun” icon on the graffiti area and the model number, you may surely say it’s the m505. This is the reason, I’m writing only about the differences between the two models. Those of you
who are interested in a thorough review of the m505, may read Julie’s last year review of the handheld here.

m515 1

Hardware Specs:

Operating System: Palm OS version 4.1
Processor: 33 MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ
Memory: 16 MB RAM + 4 MB Flash
Display: 160×160 pixel color display (65,000+ colors)
Size: 4.48 x 3.03 x 0.50 in. (11.38 x 7.70 x 1.27cm)
Weight: 4.8 oz (139g)
IrDA port
Expansion Slot compatible with SD and MMC cards
Battery: Internal Lithium Polymer Rechargeable
AC Adapter: Input: 120VAC 60Hz 11W, Output: 5.0VDC 1.0A


It would be a mistake to say that the m515 comes with a new screen. It is still the same reflective screen of the m505, but with a difference. The
LEDs which were
responsible for the Graffiti area backlight were moved upwards. Unfortunately, as a result, there is no Graffiti area backlight now.
Still we have a much brighter screen, a major improvement
on the m505. Remember the new sun-shaped icon? Well it’s responsible for the backlight which now has three settings: “Off”, “Low” and “High”. The last two settings let the user choose whether to get a brighter screen or longer battery life. When “Off”, there is no backlight and the m515 can’t be told apart from the m505. When “Low”, the m515’s screen
is twice much brighter than the m505. In this case, the m515’s screen is off-white, while the m505’s screen with lit backlight seems to be dim yellow. The battery lasts for six to seven hours of continuous
use in “Low” mode. When “High”, the m515’s screen is more like a Pocket PC one, bright white, clear and sharp. In this mode, the battery lasts for four hours of continuous use.
m515 2 m515 3
On the left: m505 with backlight On
On the right: m515 with backlight Low
On the left: m505 with backlight On
On the right: m515 with backlight High
m515 4 m515 5
On the left: m505 with backlight Off
On the right: m515 with backlight Off
On the left: m505 with backlight On
On the right: m515 with backlight High

The Palm m515 isn’t the first Palm OS® handheld to arrive with 16 MB RAM, Sony and
Handspring have preceded to launch their 16 MB handhelds earlier last year.
Nevertheless, having twice the memory is more than welcome. In the future, when SD I/O cards such as a Bluetooth, GPS and LAN hit the shelves, those 8 MB will come in handy,
to store the drivers and extra programs. Who knows, maybe the next Palm handheld will have two SD/MMC slots. The actual size of the internal memory is 15.7 MB, therefore, the owners of
the 16 MB backup card, which has only 14 MB space, will have to upgrade their cards (if they wish to backup the extra 1.7 MB) for the new 32 MB backup card Palm Launched lately.
Don’t forget the 4 MB Flash with 1.7 MB free space, you can always use and fill using special software, such as FlashPro or JackFlash.

m515 6
m515 7
The m515 comes with Palm OS® 4.1, which is mainly an upgrade of Palm OS 4.0. The new operating system supports multiple FAT (File Allocation Table) file systems on SD cards and
SD Input/Output. A new Note Pad (version 1.7) in color is also one of the highlights, not mentioning a sticky backlight function, which used to be a standalone patch m505 users
used to download from

m515 11
m515 8
m515 9
m515 10

Bonus Software included on CD:

DataViz Documents To Go® 4.0 –
Allows users view and edit Word and Excel documents, view PowerPoint presentations. Includes a desktop application which is used to transfer files to the handheld. Files are automatically updated with each
synchronization. Allows font formatting both bold, italics and underline,
Paragraph justification, indentation and numbering.

MGI PhotoSuite® Mobile Edition 2.23 – Shows your favorite photos and plays
video clips on your handheld. Full support of SD/MMC. Supported formats include: .JPG .TIF .GIF .PNG .BMP .MOV
.AVI .WMV. The included PhotoView application (PC only) enables instant display of .JPG images taken by digital cameras on an SD card or MultiMediaCard.

Palm™ Reader –
Read eBooks on your Palm™ handheld. Two e-book titles are included, “The Empty Chair” and “STSCE4 Interphase” in English. Other eBooks can be found at

AvantGo™ 4.0 Mobile Internet Service –
AvantGo users can access web content wirelessly or via desktop
synchronization, select from over 650 optimize content channels for up-to-date news, stock quotes, flight schedules, movie listings, restaurant reviews, maps, weather and much more.
Supports 16-bit color.

powerOne personal calculator – An improved version of Palm O.S. original calculator.

The following programs are also included on the CD: Pocket Mirror, Palm™ HotSync® Mail, MultiMail® SE, Palm™ Mobile Connectivity software, SMS 4.0 and Neomar WAP browser.

Bottom line, what do I think of the m515? If the m505 was almost good, the new m515 is almost perfect. Its new screen, 16 MB memory, SD/MMC expansion slot, Universal Connector and the sleek design are
a winning combination in the Palm OS® world. I would say it is the best combination Palm ever made, even better than the legendary Vx. So would I recommend buying it?

I don’t have one answer for the question. On the one hand, if you do have the m505 and you can live with its dim screen, buying the m515 means wasting your money.
A 64 MB SD card costs no more than $50, and gives you much more than 8 MB RAM. On the other hand, if you look for a handheld running Palm OS®, the new m515 will catch you eye, even near the newest Sony

If Palm had launched the m515 a year ago, instead of the m505 which had its “youth diseases”, we would definitely have a winner here. Nowadays, It’s way out of my league to tell how the m515 succeed in a market which only
recently has added the  Sony CLIÉ T615, not to mention the new NR Palm OS® series.

Price: $399


Improved color screen with adjustable backlight
SD/MMC Expansion Slot
Universal Connector
Smallest color PDA

Graffiti area lacks backlight
A year late



Product Information

  • 16 MB RAM
  • Improved color screen with adjustable backlight
  • SD/MMC Expansion Slot
  • Universal Connector
  • Smallest color PDA
  • Graffiti area lacks backlight
  • A year late

2 thoughts on “Palm m515 Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *