The newest S-series handset, aimed for the business market, from German manufacturer Siemens is the S65. Siemens handsets aren’t as highly used as some other manufacturers to some extent, and this is mainly because they seem to be dragging behind in bringing new technology and features to handsets as quickly as other manufacturers do, and therefore losing customers moving to other brands
Siemens have been releasing a new line of handsets over the last few months, including the recently reviewed CX65, new slider SL65 and outdoor MX65 handset. The S65 is a definite leap in the right direction for the German company, incorporating some features that other Siemens handsets don’t have – but they’re not necessarily “new” to the rest of the market.
The S65 from Siemens has a few outstanding features – those which haven’t been used in any other handset; Bluetooth (only used in two other models), a 1.3mpx still and video camera, and a larger more high quality display. Most of the newer Siemens handsets are being released with higher quality displays when compared to some of the older handsets; the CX65 is an example of a handset with a higher quality display. On top of this the features that the other Siemens handsets have, for example full messaging support, basic PIM and organizational applications, Java application support, tri-band GSM compatibility and a range of other features.
The 1.3mpx camera is a great advance from the normal VGA cameras fitted into most Siemens handsets. The good thing about the VGA-enabled handsets is that they were able to capture video and stills, most of the time other companies only supported still capture. This 1.3mpx camera also supports video and still image capture, at a great resolution for image editing on a PC or sending via MMS/e-mail/data-cable. More on the camera and comparison shots can be found in the Camera Performance section and the
mega pixel camera article respectively.
With a 1.3mpx camera you’re going to need storage space for your videos and images. Therefore, the S65 has a RS-MMC card slot (which is neatly but unusually hidden above the interface port at the bottom of the handset) which enables you to expand the total memory of the handset further. A 32mB RS-MMC card is bundled in the sales package and you have access to 11mB of internal memory, bringing the out-of-the-box total to 44mB of user accessible memory.
Then there’s Bluetooth. Finally another handset with this feature! This Siemens handset with the Wireless Technology is what fans have been waiting for since its release – which seems like yonks ago to some! The S65 has the ability to connect to headsets, computers, other mobile phones/PDAs, and more. The handset also has Infrared and USB/Serial Data-cable connectivity for local synchronization and data transfer.
When it comes to wireless data, the S65 offers GPRS Class 10 and CSD. CSD data gives the user the ability to use the handset as a modem for a laptop or computer and connect to the internet. With the built-in WAP 2.0 browser the S65 can connect to the mobile internet and download information, pictures, tones, applications, themes, and anything else you can think of. Synchronization over-the-air is also offered with SyncML in conjunction with GPRS.
Being tri-band GSM 900, 1800, and 1900MHz network compatible the S65 can travel with you wherever you want to go. The handset is aimed at the business user so this feature is greatly appreciated by most. With SMS, EMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging support you can always keep in touch wherever you happen to be around the world. Basic PIM applications like an alarm clock, organizer, and calendar (there are also a few more) can aid in keeping you organized.
The S65 is a smart looking handset, with a clean look and standard form factor. The general “style” (mainly the black finish) has also been used in the SL65 and to some extent in the M65 handset. The S65 incorporates the black finish with silver around the edges and intertwined in the keypad, giving it a much more professional look. The little mesh earpiece has heaps of added effect also! :)
Think about the aimed market of the S65 – the business user. They don’t need a fancy looking handset with all the physical bells and whistles that are offered with, say, a teen-based handset. Therefore the design of the S65 is simple and plain, but not in a bad way. The front of the handset is mostly black except for the silver directional stick and in various other places – these two colours work together famously.
The keys (except for the volume keys) are see-through, with the label built into the bottom of the key. If you don’t hold the handset straight you may accidentally press the wrong key, usually the key above the one you want, because looking at the keys the label seems to be on the key above where it really is. More on that is in the problems/issues section for those interested. The volume keys have been placed on the right-hand side of the S65, instead of the usual left-hand side. This is the only other key than that on the numerical pad of the S65, and is chrome.
Most of the time, memory cards are located behind the battery of the handset, much to my annoyance. Thankfully the S65 has a different location for the memory card, but it’s quite hard to find if you don’t look at the manual first. Just above the interface port at the bottom of the S65 is a small plastic flap – this is the RS-MMC card slot. There is an indent at the top which is perfect size for fitting your thumb nail into and pulling out to open up the slot. This cover is firmly attached to the handset and won’t come off. As the actual slot is really tiny, you will need to either use your fingernail (if you can fit it in there, I couldn’t) or something pointy to push the RS-MMC card in and then it will push out. The manual suggests using the battery cover, which fits perfectly into the little hole. You can use this method to remove and re-insert the RS-MMC card.
The back of the S65 is about as simple as a handset can get. From the top there’s an external antenna port for car-kits, then just below that the camera lens which is surrounded by a chrome plate with text. The rest of the back section of the handset is silver with a Siemens label imprint at the very bottom. The back of the S65 comes off to access the battery and the SIM Card slot, but it quite hard to remove…
The S65 measures 109mm x 45mm x 18 mm and weighs 98 grams, so it is slightly bigger than some other handsets. However it’s not chunky or uncomfortable and a very appropriate size for the type of handset; as said before physical aspects aren’t the main thing a business user looks for in a new mobile phone.
User Interface & display
I had a few issues with the user interface and display of the S65, mostly to do with the user interface. The same user interface is used in this model as it was in the CX65 and M65, along with several other handsets. In this model however the user interface tries to match up with the physical side of the S65, and in my opinion very unsuccessfully. The display is a 132 x 176 pixel 65,536 colour LCD which I feel isn’t suitable for a 1.3mpx digital camera, but is fine for everything else.
The user interface is navigated around, mainly, with the 5-way directional stick between the two soft keys on the S65. The two soft keys have labels on the screen of their function, and most of the time pushing in the directional key is linked to “okay,” “yes,” or “accept”. The S65 has a great little button below the directional sticks’ chrome plate, which at first I thought was a dedicated WAP browser button. Turns out this isn’t the case (although holding it down will launch the browser), and pushing the button when you first use the handset will give you a list of functions you can assign to this key. I assigned it to Create SMS, so I could easily start a new SMS wherever I was in the menus by just pressing the single key. There are literally heaps of functions you can assign to this key, but I couldn’t seem to find out how to change it once it has been set first off. Maybe a master re-set…
The left and right soft keys can also have functions assigned to them for use when the handset is idle, just press the key once and then press the right soft key, “change”. To start the function you have assigned to this key hold it down or press it briefly twice.
The user interface of the S65 can be modified with themes, but one thing stays the same – the main menu. Two main colours are used here, grey and gold. The icon that isn’t selected is smaller than that selected, and is grey – when selected the icon enlarges and becomes gold. I think this looks really bad and just tacky, and the icons aren’t very user-friendly either. Changing the themes on the handset doesn’t change any icons on the S65, just the background and colour scheme. The same grey and gold icons are still there in every theme, and if you’re not using the standard theme it looks even worse. There are four extra themes and the standard (black) theme preinstalled on the handset.
The display is the same in this model as it is in the CX/M65 models, a 132-by-176 pixel and 65,536 colour TFT LCD. I would have expected with a 1.3mpx camera an upgrade to a 262,144 colour display would have been used, but obviously it wasn’t. Yes, viewing images, messages, browsing WAP pages and other functions of the handset are much more pleasurable than doing the same on a 4,096 colour display, but just imagine how good it would have been on a 262k colour display!! The size of the display allows more room for text and icons, and the added advantage of this is an easier-to-use user interface.
Making and receiving calls
With only one new feature to mention in this section, the S65 offers three basic methods of making and receiving calls that aren’t new to us. They are, using the phone regularly with the earpiece, plugging in a headset to the interface port at the bottom of the handset (a stereo headset is included in the sales package), or using the
integrated hands free speakerphone. New in the Siemens S65 is the ability to connect a Bluetooth headset and use that as an alternative way of using the handset for calls.
The quality of the S65 is of the highest quality, just like with any other Siemens handset. To get the most out of your calling experience it’s best to use the earpiece, after all this is what mobile phones are designed for, aren’t they? ;)
The volume key which is placed on the right hand side of the S65 can be used in call to… change the volume! You can also use the directional key up and down to alter the volume if you wish, but the volume key allows you to change the volume without interrupting your call. In-call features can be accessed by pushing the directional stick inwards. You can conduct conference calls, switch between calls and more using the S65, as long as your service supports these functions.
The S65 offers polyphonic and AMR/WAV ring tones. The polyphonic ring tones can be up to 40-chords, and the AMR/WAV files can be downloaded or transferred to the phone, or even made using the sound recorder feature on the S65 – found under the “Extras” menu.
Bluetooth Hands free car-kits are now readily available, so you can now utilize this wireless technology in your car. Headsets of course are also supported, from Siemens or any other manufacturer, but a Bluetooth device being used with the S65 must be compliant with the two most widely used Bluetooth Profiles, Headset and Hands free. This is an great inclusion from Siemens as a business user, which is the market the handset is aimed for, doesn’t want nor need to be tied down with wires!
All of the messaging standards are supported on the S65, including SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail. Blackberry isn’t supported in the S65 but this isn’t as popular as in other markets at the moment, but with people like Vodafone offering Blackberry handsets you can expect this to take off very soon – but back to the S65.
Coming with an integrated 1.3mpx digital still and video camera, your friends and family can be sure that MMS messages from you are going to be crammed full with multimedia. The handset supports both image and video MMS messages, but you can also add text, animations, and sound to your messages. Multimedia messages can be sent directly to a compatible handset or e-mail address, whichever you wish. The MMS editor on the S65 is easy to use and laid flat out, allowing you to select which aspects you want to add to your message(s) and what you want to leave out. Templates are also offered.
E-mail messaging on the S65 is possible with IMAP4, POP3, and SMTP e-mail servers, once you have set up and have an active GPRS wireless connection. You can send and receive e-mail messages just like you would with an e-mail client on your home or work computer.
T9 Predictive text is offered for those who wish to use it, but I had some problems with this and even multi-tap input of text. Because of the design of the buttons on the S65 and the transparency of them, you may sometimes press a key which isn’t the one you’re actually meaning to press. For example I accidentally pressed the 1 key when really I meant to hit the 4 key, and as 1 is the key for a space my messages were a little distorted! A larger amount of concentration is required for messaging on the S65 than other T9-supported handsets.
Another problem I had with the S65 and all other T9-supproted Siemens handsets is the way that the key assignments are set out. I have no problem with the 1 key being space, or anything like that, but just the way in which you have to scroll through word suggestions – with the right soft key. Why not the directional stick? It would be much easier for the user, that’s for sure! ;)
The usual two connectivity options in Siemens handsets are available on the S65, as well as a new one (which was only used in two other Siemens handsets) – Bluetooth! It’s finally in one of the new-wave handsets from Siemens. You can use either Bluetooth, USB/Serial data-cable, or Bluetooth to transfer your files to and from the S65, synchronize, conduct wireless calls, and much more.
A data-cable is supplied in the sales package, so if you wish to connect the handset to your computer or laptop you can do it right out of the box… providing you have a spare USB port! You can also use a Bluetooth or Infrared dongle. Using the “My Stuff” application, which is like a file manager, you can view all your files and edit them as you wish, and also send them using Infrared, Bluetooth, MMS, or e-mail straight from the menu.
In the settings menu is a Connectivity heading under which you can browse for new Bluetooth devices, connect with already paired devices and perform other miscellaneous functions. The infrared port, which is on the right-hand side of the S65, can also be (de)activated from this connectivity menu.
Making a late entrance to the Bluetooth market with this model, we can only hope that Siemens will follow suit of other manufacturers, and incorporate Bluetooth into more and more handsets. The Bluetooth connectivity on the S65 was unflawed in my tests with headsets and USB dongles.
For wireless remote connections the S65 offers GPRS Class 10, which permits for speeds around 48kbp/s, enough for quick downloading images, games, that kind of thing. MMS/e-mail sending and receiving is also quick with this kind of GPRS connection.
There are only two things that I can think of to put into this section, and they’re only minor issues – the S65 is crafted to the upmost quality bar these two issues. The first problem I, and probably every other user of the handset has (or will have) is the removal of the back battery cover. The second has already been discussed a little in the physical aspects section, and has to do with the RS-MMC card location.
You can find details on both issues in the Problem/Issues section of this article.
The S65 only has one removable section, which is the back battery cover. The other moveable part, but not removable, is the RS-MMC card slot just above the data interface port at the bottom of the handset. A little hard plastic flap sits over the slot and is attached to the handset so you can’t loose it changing RS-MMC cards.
If anyone is looking for the wrist/neck strap attachment is part the handset and part the battery cover. You will see two small holes at the bottom of the battery cover; just stick the end of your neck/wrist strap into here and close the battery cover and you’re all set!
No problems here. The S65 uses a 750mAh Lithium-ion battery pack which will keep the S65 up and running in standby mode for approximately 250 hours, and around 300 minutes of talk time.
With Bluetooth built into this handset unlike most other Siemens handsets with the same battery, I wondered if using the Bluetooth feature would drain the battery like it has done in other models from different companies. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case with the S65 although the battery will empty faster when you have Bluetooth enabled compared to when you don’t, just like if you use the camera or play games a lot, you’ll notice less battery life.