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“I Will Fly you to the moon and back if you’ll be, if you’ll be my baby”.
My dirty old Nokia 3310 was past its sell-by-date years ago so I have to admit to getting ridiculously over excited at the prospect of a new phone. So many decisions to be made. Colour, polyphonic ringtones, games, and camera, one of those flip clamshell types or a standard Nokia style? Given my self-imposed budget of £60 surely I had given myself little leeway regarding the type of phone I could purchase?
Never underestimate the dididave obsession with bargain hunting. It is rare that I pay full price for anything and as such revel in the underground culture that is the boot sale, charity shop and online auction world. Trawling through the Internet back alleys in search of my next gadget I came across the Siemen’s SL55. This little beauty retails at £129 but can be found on ebay for as little as £55.
This phone is all about the look. It is the ultimate in compact and sexy. All curves and sleek lines this phone is so small it fits in the palm of your hand (and I have small hands!). It weighs a featherweight 79g yet feels reassuringly firm in your palm (insert smut here). So, how can a phone so small be at all functional? Those genius bods at Siemen's have designed it with functionality in mind. The main menu functions can be accessed via the quick access keys on the front of the phone. There are two “soft keys” on the side of the phone one provides a dictation function which is excellent for the senile amongst as and the other acts as an up and down arrow for the various menus. The colour screen dominates the phone and is crystal clear. The ruby red surroundings seem to enhance the screen's visibility as a result. I particularly liked the solid and definite feel you get when you press the buttons, none of this rubber Nokia indecisiveness. What I get here is a reassuring proper clicky keyboard feel. Key presses feel definite compared to the namby-pamby nature of its rubber keyed main competitors.
Now here comes my favourite feature of the phone. The reason that it is so small is because it has a slide up front which reveals the numeric keys beneath it. These are nice and brightly lit and the phone slides up with a positive click to tell you it is ready for action. Now of course most function can be accessed without even sliding up the front. However, in order to play games and dial numbers manually (as opposed to using the phone book) there are occasions when the keypad comes into play. Of course sending text messages can also only be done with the phone revealed in all its glory.
The functions to this phone seem to be endless but the simplified picture style menu with everything on one screen makes it particularly easy to navigate around. The phonebook is easily accessible and customisable with individual ringtones for each caller or groups of callers (friends, family etc). Ringtones, screensavers, wallpapers and games are all within easy reach and there are a vast amount to choose from. However, if the ones on offer are not to your liking then why not access the WAP (mobile internet) service and download your own. Ringtones are of a good polyphonic (stereo like) quality and games are varied and many. The default games are “Rayman Golf” (easy but a good laugh) and “Mobile Tennis” (very hard but satisfying).
The most innovative feature of this phone has to be its file system. Very similar to Windows control panel it allows you to sort files into categories be they music, game or pictures. Files accepted are also Windows compatible including JPEG, GIF and MMF. The SL55 has been designed with compatibility in mind. As such with a USB cable (not provided) you are able to transfer files to and from your PC. Failing that you can always send or receive an email with an attachment including a picture, soundbite game etc. This is amazingly straightforward and indeed the whole emphasis of the phone appears to be to pack as many features as possible into an easy to use interface. It really is idiot proof, take it from an idiot! A typical example of this is in the key lock. How many times on my old Nokia phone did I put it in my pocket forgetting to lock it and dial my fictional uncle in Australia (“Get off the phone you Pom prat”, he would never shout). There are “no worries” of that here. Sliding the phone back into its compact mode automatically locks the keypad saving me thousands of wasted pennies to my Uncle Jebediah. In case you were wondering how my mobile could contact Australia this phone is also Tri-band meaning it works in most countries around the world. The reception when the phone is uncovered is first class and talk time is up to three hours which isn't bad for a phone with so many features.
This phone is perfect in every way then?
No, it does have some minor issues or gripes. The top numerical keys can seem a little too close to the sliding mechanism when texting. Although you I am not miss typing I am finding I am a little slower on this than my old Nokia. The T9 (predictive text function) can be a little hard to get to grips with as in an effort to be different the space key and symbol keys are in the opposite corners to what you would expect (assigned to 1 and *). The phone does not have an in-built camera due to its small size although a camera attachment is available at around £20. The talk time can be severely reduced if games are your staple diet. However, these are just stray hairs in an otherwise stupendous trifle.
I am more than impressed with my little darling. Its closest Neighbours are the hugely expensive Samsung E800 or the lacking in feature Sagem C4 neither of which have the looks or compact nature of this diminutive Kylie Minogue of the phone world. On Virgin at 3p a text this phone is an absolute bargain and you can be sure that my affirmation of this phones prowess is not unwarranted.
I was going to get one of these but was dissapointed with how fragile and plastic it appeared in 'real life' so I went for a more robust Sony Ericsson - I am glad you like yours thou' :) xx E.
LR_17 21.02.2005 12:53
I really wanted this phone, ever since I saw the TV ads for it. It looks so cool and I love the colour. But I had a siemens before which caused me nothing but trouble. I went for a nokia instead. Can't believe you found it for £55 on ebay! Especially when it's normally well over £100! Leila :)
Deru 19.02.2005 22:27
It's a good Savage Garden song but can't understand why it's at the start of your review.