With the new C65, Siemens are putting picture messaging in the hands of entry-level users. With support for multimedia messaging and an integrated digital CIF camera, you can send pictures to anybody you like, no matter where you are. And with tri-band GSM capability, you could be in one of up to five continents around the world and still be connected.
Forty-tone polyphonic ringtones allow for stylish alerts to phone calls, and with a whole range of different personalisation options, such as Clipit covers and downloadable themes, wallpapers and screensavers, you can make the C65 stand out in the crowd.
Read on for more details on Siemens’ new entry-level phone.
While the Siemens C65 doesn’t really break much ground in terms of new technology or features, the outstanding part about it is that it offers many extras such as digital camera, high quality polyphonic ringtones, heaps of memory and internet access. These are things you’d expect to find on a premium handset, but they’re included in the far more affordable C65.
The amount of memory included – 10 megabytes – is plenty for this handset. Without data crunching features such as MP3 player or video recorder, the amount of space you have to save CIF photos and ringtones is outstanding. You can save more than 400 CIF size photos, 1000 medium size ringtones, 150 medium size Java applications, and plenty of themes too.
Infra-red connectivity means you don’t need to shell out extra to buy a data cable for transferring data to a PC. If you have an infra-red receiver, you can transfer data between your computer and the C65, as well as synchronise contacts between programs such as Outlook. Unfortunately, Siemens have not included the software CD required for the C65 to communicate with a PC, which is unfortunate as it means you must download it from their website and install it manually. For more information check out the problems/issues page.
The C65 is a tried-and-tested candybar with a design that could be said to be typical of Siemens. It is very compact and lightweight, measuring at 105 x 47 x 18 mm and weighing 86g. The finish is very smooth and the casing is attached very firmly and tightly – perhaps a bit too tightly if you are trying to remove the battery cover. It took me a few minutes and nearly all my strength to slide the battery cover off the back of the phone. While possibly a bit too tight, it is reassuring to know that the phone is not going to fall apart in my pocket from repeated use.
On the front, the screen measures 130x130 pixels, and hence is square-shaped. You have the standard 12 numerical keys, as well as dial and hang-up keys along with two soft keys and a shortcut key, which can be assigned to virtually any function you want on a phone, from starting up a particular Java application to activating infra-red! A five-way joystick completes the key layout. Five-way means that it can be moved in four directions and can also be clicked in as an OK button. The buttons don’t require much effort to press and the joystick, in the majority of cases, will go in the direction I want it to, unlike joysticks on some other phones I have used before.
If you take a look at the back you’ll see the camera lens just above the centre of the phone, with a socket for an external antenna just above it and to the left. The coloured battery cover contrasts against the standard grey of the rest of the phone and is easily noticeable. As mentioned earlier, it is quite frustrating to remove this back cover but once you do you will be able to access the battery and the SIM card slot. The SIM card simply slides in when you insert it, without needing a latch to lock it in.
The external communication socket is in the traditional position at the bottom of the phone, and does not come with a rubber cover such as other recent phones have. This socket doubles as a battery recharge and data cable socket, and if you plug the C65 into the desk holder accessory, it can do both at the same time! The desk holder accessory is not included in the package.
User Interface & display
The upgrade of the screen to a 65,536 colour screen makes viewing pictures a much more pleasant and practical experience. It is unfortunate that Siemens didn’t go one step further and make the screen a TFT one, but as this is an entry-level model it can be overlooked. The screen measures 130 x 130 pixels and is based on passive matrix STN technology.
The user-interface is based on a 3 x 3 grid of icons, which is quickly becoming the standard way of displaying a menu. This is the default method, although you can change it to the Nokia look of displaying one icon at a time. The nine icons displayed in the main menu are Address Book, Call Records, Surf & Fun, Camera, Messages, Organiser, Extras, My Stuff, and Setup.
Beyond the first level of menus the layout used is one of text lines. The screen is large enough to display five lines of menus at the standard font size, and you can change to a jumbo font size where only one line fits the screen, if the standard font is too small. In addition, some menu items have a help function that is accessible with the left softkey, explaining what the function does. I can’t quite understand why only some menu options and not all of them have help.
Unfortunately the screen just doesn’t live up to expectations when displaying pictures. Colours are all washed out and pictures are displayed much darker than they actually are, making them very hard to see in bright light. This is strange considering that with 65,000 colours pictures should be displayed quite well.
Making and receiving calls
Calls on the C65 can be done the regular way, through the integrated speakerphone, or through a wired handsfree which is available separately. Calls done the regular way are very clear, you can hear the person on the other side very clearly through the earpiece on the phone. Volume is adjusted using the joystick as there are no dedicated volume adjustment buttons.
Calls made through the handsfree speakerphone also work well. Volume can be made loud enough to be heard clearly while travelling in a car. The same can’t be said for the person on the other side though, as you need to keep the phone close to you for the person on the other end to hear you clearly.
Calls are answered by default in traditional mode when you press the green dial key – to activate speakerphone you press the right softkey. Annoyingly the phone asks to confirm that you want to activate speakerphone by pressing the right softkey again. This is frustrating, because usually when you want to activate speakerphone you want to do it immediately.
The phonebook can store up to four phone numbers and one email address per name, as well as an address and portrait sized picture, which blinks when an incoming call comes through. With the current firmware though, searching the phone book by entering letters was impossible. No matter what letter I typed in, the phone would jump to the end of the phonebook rather than the first entry beginning with the letter I typed. More information on the phone’s buggy firmware in the problems section.
SMS, EMS and MMS are fully supported on the C65. With concatenated SMS, large SMS messages of up to 760 characters can be created and sent, and will be received probably if the person’s phone you are sending to is reasonably new. EMS support allows sending and receiving of old-style picture messages and monotone ringtones to other phones, although support for EMS from other phones is limited.
MMS is fully featured, with support for text, pictures and sound. Slides are also supported, meaning you can attach multiple pictures and sounds up to a maximum of 100KB. There is direct access to the camera from the MMS entry menu, in case you want to take a picture to send there and then.
While there is no email client on the C65, you can send email via MMS to any email address, although due to the nature of MMS you normally can’t receive a reply back to your phone from an email address.
The C65 has support for three of the four GSM bands – 900, 1800 and 1900MHz bands. This means the C65 can be used almost anywhere around the world. GPRS Class 10 support means you can access the internet at speeds of around 36 – 48 kbps, and the browser installed is an Openwave internet browser which supports WAP specification 2.0. WAP version 2.0 allows for viewing of pages in colour with pictures and animation.
For connectivity to PC, the C65 supports USB and serial cables, as well as infra-red connectivity. Using either method you can transfer files as well as synchronise phone books and send SMS directly from the PC.
As mentioned earlier, the C65 casing latches together very well, to the point of being very difficult to remove the back battery cover to change the battery or SIM card.
The C65 measures 105 x 45 x 16 millimetres, and weighs 86 grams. It’s quite compact and lightweight, and fits within one’s pocket without any fuss.
The 600mAh Lithium-ion battery provides up to 250 hours of standby time and up to 300 minutes of talk time, according to Siemens. In my test it was able to last two full days of mixed usage, which included about 30 minutes of phone calls, one GPRS session on Vodafone live and about 20 minutes of game playing.
Siemens provide a travel charger in the retail pack which will work on either 110 or 240 volt power systems, so you can plug it in anywhere around the world as long as you have a plug converter. It takes up to two hours to completely recharge the phone when the battery is drained.