The trend for miniature mobile handsets seems to be on the increase - with Panasonic being the next manufacturer to come up with something that’ll fit into virtually any purse or handbag (these are getting smaller as well!) Dubbed the GD55 “mini phone”, it comes with all the basic features one will expect from a Panasonic mobile phone - with the benefit of knowing that they’re all packed into this nifty little unit.
While “size” may seem to be the main (and only) attraction of the GD55, there are still those complementing in-phone features that make handling a small phone as interesting as any other. Some of these include polyphonic tones, ringtone composer, built-in speakerphone, WAP, and standby screen wallpaper. When you compare it with other feature-packed phones, it seems that size does somewhat matter here!
For those people interested in getting a phone that they can use wherever they go, the GD55 does come in a tri-band version (GSM 900/1800/1900). This means that not all models of the GD55 have this feature built in. Apparently, models marketed and sold in Taiwan are tri-band compatible - while GD55 handsets in other markets only come with dual-band (GSM 900/1800) compatibility only.
Measuring in at just 77 x 43 x 16.9 millimetres, Panasonic’s GD55 is up there with the Siemens CL50/8008 and Sony Ericsson T600 - being excessively small but yet feasible enough for use by the average person. It retains a similar casing design and “feel” of other previous GD-based models - with the exception of a 2-way (up/down) navigation key, instead of the familiar 4-way key or 5-way joystick.
Keys on the GD55 are small enough to be pressed with fingertips, but are spaced more closely together than the average phone. Therefore, any faster-than-needed actions here may lead to mistakes due to missed keypresses or from software lags (see
Problems/issues for more information).
Items such as the antenna and battery are external on the GD55, so that the phone can be offered at the smallest dimensions possible.
User Interface & display
The GD55’s high resolution, 4-line display is comfortable enough to read thanks to its wide screen design and blue-coloured backlighting (yes, the keypad uses blue backlights as well!) While the standby screen is displayed, the top line is used for signal and battery level gauges and alarm/divert/roaming/silent/vibrate indicators. Soft key indicators usually occupy the lower line when menus are listed.
Its menu system resembles most of those found on other Panasonic GD-based phones - but navigation is 2-way (up/down) only.
Some shortcut keys are also available on the GD55 - providing quick and easy access to most commonly-used functions. Holding down the left or right soft keys will bring up the profiles or messaging menus respectively, while having the hash key held down will traditionally put the phone into silent mode immediately (this mode is not listed within the profiles menu).
Making and receiving calls
Alike other Panasonic GSM phones, there are three ways that you can conduct a telephone conversation with the GD55 - directly via the earpiece, using an optional headset (sold as an accessory), and the handsfree speakerphone feature. Sound quality is pretty okay through the earpiece and provides sufficient volume in any environment. The handsfree speakerphone provides similar performance - no complaints there, since the GD55 is the smallest phone around fitted with this feature.
Probably the weirdest thing is to try and take the phone with the GD55 next to your ear. Sometimes, you try and figure what’s the best way of holding it so that the other person will hear you clearly (since the distance of the phone’s microphone from your mouth is kinda far). But in the end, you’ll just give up trying and use it as you would with any other mobile.
And if you’re wondering if the polyphonic ringtones on the GD55 are loud enough or not, let me assure you that they most certainly are! :)
Not to say that messaging isn’t possible on the GD55, but you may just find it slightly difficult to get yourself accustomed to the small keypad buttons that don’t have much height off the front cover. Using your fingertips is the key thing to remember.
Next thing to consider is how the T9 system is slightly different from other Panasonic phones. If you’re an existing Panasonic user, you may need to revisit the training ground a bit.
The GD55 comes with a pretty solid build - since the phone does not come with removable front or back covers and no moving parts. Its external battery fits on quite snugly, and the external antenna is tightly attached to the main phone body.
Amazingly, I was able to get very good talk and standby times from the GD55 - all thanks to the 720 mAh lithium-ion battery. On average use, I was able to attain approximately 4-5 days standby and up to 4 hours worth of talking time.