For those who may be slightly weary about mobile phones from Siemens, let me say that their latest model, the C55, will bring along positive surprises that could shift your focus back on their products. Those areas from previous models that required improvements have been addressed and the C55 is the living proof.
And for the remainder of those who consider Siemens as their brand of choice, you’ll probably be as impressed - or be furthermore inspired! :)
The C55 is the first Siemens phone to introduce the use of polyphonic tones, which will gradually become a mainstream feature on future models. Being aimed more towards a market-entry segment and towards first-time users of mobile phones, this new “C” series model comes with a host of richer features such as voice functions (commands, dialling and recording), Java application support, GPRS Class 8 support, and the ability to also record your own ringtone too!
A more compact design has been given to the C55, where it also weighs at just 80 grams - 30% less than its C45 predecessor (at a whopping 107 grams!) The materials used for the CLIPit covers were quite nice to hold and easy to take on and off - even though it did feel kind of “hollow” at the back of the phone. As for looking at it, the all-white “Blue Kiss” cover colour was extremely pleasant to look at - and even glowed in the dark or under certain lighting conditions (mostly found in night clubs and discos).
There were two improvements on the C55 that I found to have made the overall user experience so much better.
Firstly, tactility of the overall keypad has been improved - where pressing each and every button boasts a similar level of certainty. On the C45, the biggest I had was with its keypad, especially with the set of arrow and soft keys above the answer button - which got quite uncomfortable when used for prolonged periods.
On the subject of these same buttons, the C55 has rid of the old, now-hideous design and employed a four-way-like set of buttons instead - which is actually the second improvement. In fact, it’s actually two soft keys (left and right) and up and down navigation together on the same button panel. The phone book icon on the “down” button allows access to this very feature from the standby screen, while holding down on the “up” button instead will activate voice commands (of course, you will need to have at least one voice command/dialling entry set up before this can be used).
User Interface & display
If you’ve used Siemens phones before, you won’t have a problem with the new C55 - which retains the traditional “look and feel”. The Siemens menu user interface (UI) is probably one of the easier ones to navigate. Its black-and-white display is quite sharp, providing a good level of readability also thanks to the use of a soft blue illumination.
One of the more prominent improvements on the C55 is the improvement in software receptiveness - or in other words, the ability of the C55 to accept keystrokes and provide screen output faster compared to previous Siemens models. Although not vital for standard usage, it becomes a pain when you begin to type faster than what the T9 predictive text system can output on the screen whilst messaging!
And if you’ve become accustomed with other phones with 4-way navigational keys, it may take a bit of getting-use-to if you decide to use the C55. As explained earlier, the left/right buttons are in actual fact the two soft keys - and only the up/down actions are available for navigational use.
A blue and orange backlight combination, similar to the blue version of the M50, is adopted for the C55 - blue for the display area, and orange traditionally retained for the keypad. Coincidentally, where the blue and orange backlight mixes, a soft lilac colour is emitted around the answer/end and 4-way set of buttons, where it is more obvious.
Making and receiving calls
The C55 allows phone calls to be taken either traditionally through its earpiece or via the handsfree speakerphone feature. Either way, you will get good audio quality levels - and no “the speakerphone is not loud enough” problems here! :)
A portable handsfree headset accessory is also available for the C55, which is sold separately.
Both SMS and EMS messaging standards are supported on the C55. Also included on the phone is a library of objects that include pictures, animations and sounds. When you feel like composing something colourful, simply press the “options” right soft key from the message composition screen and choose the “picture & sound” option.
With the improved keypad design/tactility and software receptiveness, typing messages with T9 predictive text input is better than ever! You should not have problems with lags and missed characters when composing your communiqués, as some may have experienced this on previous Siemens handsets.
I found the core body of the C55 being quite solid, which should provide sufficient protection if you were to accidentally drop the phone on a hard surface. Even though the CLIPit covers were quite easy to attach and remove, they inadvertently gave off a slight sense of flimsiness mostly felt at the edges and the bordering gaps around the phone where the top and bottom covers met.
Talk and standby times on the C55 are pretty much in line with the average GSM handset - gaining approximately 2-3 hours and 3-4 days respectively on an average use pattern. Where the battery has yet to receive its first run-in charge, there may be slight improvements in performance after several more charges.