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Working for a branch of Siemens, I get to play with all the different phones, including some that are never released in Britain. The C55 along with the SL55 are the phones that I mainly use, and for good reasons. The C55, is a fully functional little phone, with many of the more advanced features such as polyphonic ringtones and GPRS WAP, all for a small price, looking at a few sites on the web, I've noticed you can get one of these beauties for as little as £60. The phone comes with two reasonably good games (Galaxy Hero and Prince of Persia) and it is possible to download more through Java technology. It also comes with 30 polyphonic ringtones (although for some reason 5 of these are of the noises that different animals make - just incase you ever wanted to be notified of a call by the sound of a duck quacking!?!), and even has an inbuilt sound recorder, that can be used to create ringtones, say of a song from the radio. It has all the standard organiser functions, such as calender and alarm clock, a calculator and currency convertor, aloing with an advanced voice command, where not only can you use voice commands to dial people from your phone book, but you can also use it to open text messages, change profiles etc. The only gripe I have with this little phone is that use of the soft keys keep changing, for example, on one function the right softkey is select, but then is on the left in other functions. In conclusion, this is a great little phone if your are looking for something a little more advanced than the ordinary phone, but if you want all the mod cons, such as a colour screen (although it does have a funky blue glow) and camera, you had better look elsewhere
This summer, it was clear that my Mitsubishi Trium Eclipse needed to be replaced. Although I had had a great deal of fun with it, and it had a lot to recommend it, I eventually cut my losses and decided that it was too big. The external aerial also belied its modern specification. Since I had just got a camera phone, it seemed silly to keep two colour screen mobile phones when one of them had all the features of the other and more. What I thus needed for my other SIM card was something more modern, and smaller, but also simpler. Having just sold my old Siemens C45 to make way for the camera phone, I also felt that it might be a good idea to look for the C45's replacement, the C55. Unfortunately, this was a somewhat difficult undertaking. I will not go into details, but suffice it to say that I was exceptionally relieved when a C55 eventually arrived at my house, and having only paid 46 GBP for it, I felt that I had got a good deal. This euphoric atmosphere did not fade for some considerable time. Here was a phone which seemed to be like my old C45, but better in every way. It was lighter, better looking, smaller, and had much easier menu navigation. I cannot say that I was impressed with the standard colour scheme, which is bright blue with various other bits of the phone in dark blue and white, but the overall design was enough to win me over. The menu system of the C45, with its navigation buttons illogically sited, and sometimes easy to confuse with the select keys, had been replaced with something which was almost a direct copy of the Nokia menu system. At first, I was slightly suspicious of this, but it turned out that Siemens has made it their own by keeping the features of the C45 menu system that were best about it, the main menu layout and the one touch of the red button to go back a step is a case in point, and merely make it easier to go up and down. Text messaging had also been improved. I used to struggle with the old C45, simply b
ecause the keypad was not very responsive. There was no doubting the actual system of sending messages, which in my opinion is one of the two best on the market, but the buttons slowed my typing down to such an extent that it sometimes was not worth it. Not so now. The C55 has an excellent keypad, although the buttons are a little small. If, however, someone is used to a Nokia 8210 or 8310, they will have no trouble with it at all, as it bears more than a coincidental resemblance to this in many ways, and this is one of them. Those who are used to a C45, MT50 or A50 will have to refine some of the keys that they would normally press for punctuation, switching between upper and lower case and turning off predictive text (I for one never use this feature), but it is not enough to cause major problems. The C55 also supports up to 760 characters in a text message, which means that those who send or receive long messages from others will not have them broken up as on other Siemens phones I have used, although if the normal 160 character limit is exceeded, it is still necessary to pay for more than one message. Overall, however, I have found that this one of the quickest phones to send messages on I have ever used, and the shortcut to a new message straight from the standby menu exploits this to the full. This is not, however, the only major difference between this and other previous Siemens phones. Having not owned an S55 before, but planning to do so at some point when they become a little bit cheaper, I was surprised to find that this phone came with a loudspeaker. On the Triums and Sagems that I have owned in the past, and still currently own, this is a pretty standard feature, and one that I have got so used to that I can never see the point of having a handsfree-kit. It was something of a relief to find that this was now standard on Siemens phones as well, since I remember several occasions where the C45 was juggled incessantly because I did not have the sp
eakerphone option. Disappointingly, this is nothing like the volume of the Sagem MYX-6 I currently have, and I do not think that this could therefore be used on a table for multi-party conversations, for example, but if one is in a queue and waiting to get through to an operator, it certainly does suffice. It may be that the quiet speakerphone volume is also related to one of the major problems of this phone, which is the quiet ringtones. Fortunately, the vibration on the phone is very strong, so I have not missed too many calls or text messages, but even in situations such as walking down the road, I find it very easy to hear nothing at all from the phone when I can feel the vibration wanting to give me white thigh syndrome. The ringtones themselves are excellent, but it would be nice to hear them more clearly as well. The voice recorder, and attached paraphenalia, was not something I was expecting to find, since the C55 was never designed to be at the cutting edge of technology, but it is fun to record brief notes, and also to use whatever sound one wants as a ringtone. This is a feature copied on my MYX-6, and something which all manufacturers should consider. That said, the standard ringtones, with such sounds as a cockerel, an ambulance and a duck, amongst more 'conventional' polyphonic ringtones, are excellent fun, if only they could be heard more clearly. As well as customizing the ringtonesm there are also other features of the C55 that can be changed, should they not to be to one's liking in their default form. The C55 follows on from the M50/MT50 in being a fully capable Java phone. There should be Galaxy Hero and Prince of Persia on every handset, and I would love to be able to give an accurate assessment of these two games, but my particular phone had all the Java applications wiped from it before I obtained it, so this is not possible. As it has for the past four months been in the care of a friend of mine who usually owns
a Nokia 8310, and has said great things about it, I have not been able or bothered to download any more of them, but I would imagine that it is a fairly straightforward procedure. The changeable covers also give the opportunity for me to get rid of the standard fascia and replace it with something a little more masculine. I have to say that the removal of the cover does give one a chance to appreciate the excellent build quality. I was always told that Siemens phones had excellent build quality, but with the C45 I was never sure, since it was very durable, but it had the prepensity to creak. No such issues with the C55, however. Despite being so small and light, it probably could be kicked around a car park without so much as a scratch, and anyone who picked it up afterwards would notice no difference at all in its usage. German build quality never was so good. The customisablity of the menus also merits a mention. The left softkey can be changed to whichever menu item takes one's fancy, although the default option is set to a new text message, which is sensible for most people, but in addition to this, all the number keys can be programmed to not just phone book entries, but menu items as well. Holding down the 3 key, for example, could take one straight to the alarm clock function, whereas the 6 key could be configured to dial home. I do like the Siemens menu system, but for those who do not, this offers yet further flexibility. The only option missing is the ability to copy the entire SIM card to the phone and vice versa. Nokia and Ericsson have been doing this for years, even on their low-end phones, so why Siemens cannot follow suit is beyond me. I hope that this is possible on the S55, or I shall have to buy a data cable instead. One outstanding thing concerns the screen. I have always thought of the C55 as a rival not just to the obvious Nokia 3410/3510 pair, since it has all the features of these, bar the MMS capabilities of the 3510 wh
ich are pretty much useless anyway, and has a better screen, but also the 8310. This is because of its size, and a very similar menu system. The C55 lacks the infra-red, FM radio and white backlight of the 8310, but it fights back with Java, polyphonic ringtones, and the ability to use the voice recorder as its ringtones as well, something slightly limiting about the 8310. For the 5% of the population who use the infra-red port, this may be an issue, but for me, this is not a problem. GPRS is also present in both models, and the Siemens browser is just as easy as ever. It is a real shame that we did not get the blue backlight of the M50 in the European version of the C55 (the Asian version would appear to have this), since this would have made the screen comparable to that of the 8310, but this was not to be. All things taken into account, and the fact that the C55 is cheaper than any of the three Nokia rivals, means that there was only ever going to be one choice for me. The reception quality and the battery life of this phone are improved over the C45. This is yet another area where Siemens has succeeded in improving on its design, whilst being able to produce a competitive product for the current marketplace. Unfortunately, this phone, although popular on the Continent, has been vastly under-marketed over here, and its little brother, the A55, which has many of the same features, but at a lower price, has stolen its thunder, and every network has supported it. Just like the Trium Eclipse, the C55 is thus destined to remain a discerning choice. Why no one else wants to follow the trends that I have started, and remain with their Nokias, is beyond me.