Mini Review of the Siemens SL55


I have just been given the chance to try a Seimens SL55, courtesy of Howard Forums member carsmovies. Despite the very similar number, the SL55 is a very different phone from the S55, at least in terms of physical appearance and size. There seemed to be quite a few similarities in functionality, but I didnít have both phones handy.

Last Updated: 27-Sep-2003

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

General

I havenít been particularly fond of any Seimens phones Iíve tested in the past, but right up front Iíve got to tell you that I was very impressed with the SL55. Before we get into the reasons why I liked it so much, letís have a look at a few details about this model.

The way in which this phone hides its keypad is rather unique (in that I donít know of any other phone that is built this way). Imagine a small phone that is made in two halves (a top half and a bottom half). These two halves slide up and down relative to one another, thus exposing the keypad and making the phone a bit longer when in use. The two photographs seen at the top of this review should give you some idea of how this works.

The phone is quite small when closed, measuring just 3.2 inches tall, 1.75 inches wide, and 0.86 inches deep. It tips the scales at a light 2.8 ounces (79 grams). It supports 1900 MHz, 900 MHz, and 1800 MHz (but not 850 MHz unfortunately). The phone comes with a rather small-capacity 500 mAh battery, but according carsmovies, the standby and talk times are quite reasonable.

The beautifully rounded contours around the earpiece make the phone extremely comfortable against your ear, and carrying on prolonged conversations will likely be a joy with this model.

The screen isnít particularly large, and it sports only 4,096 colors, but unlike the ghastly black holes on Sony-Ericsson phones, this one is actually viewable without the backlight. In bright sunlight the display is very easy to see, and the brighter the sun, the better it looks. While the display wasnít the greatest Iíve ever seen, it was bright, sharp, and readable under virtually any conditions.

The color screen is always visible, as are a few of the important navigation keys. It is therefore possible to operate the phone without opening it, assuming you donít need to get at the numeric keys. Those keys are not especially well designed though, as the navigation keys feel loose (they have too much play) and the top row of numeric keys is difficult to get to, since they sit just below the top half the phone when you slide it open.

The phone also includes quite a few features, including Java apps, calendar, alarm clock, stopwatch, calculator, picture messaging, EMS, MMS, voice dialing, WAP 1.2.1, class 8 GPRS, IR port, polyphonic ringtones, games, and synchronization with Microsoft Outlook. It does not include Bluetooth.

RF Performance and Audio Quality

The really great news is HOW this phone works. Weíll begin with the RF performance, which is excellent. Although it doesnít quite match the performance of my Nokia 6310i, the difference between the two phones is marginal at best. After testing so many phones with lackluster RF characteristics, itís refreshing to find one that can really hold its own.

Audio quality is among the best Iíve heard. It has a bit more low end than the 6310i, but it is otherwise remarkable similar in tonal balance and overall sound reproduction. To its credit, it has virtually no background hiss or other extraneous noises, and to that end it is slightly better than the 6310i. Outgoing audio is equally inspiring.

Audio volume is good-and-loud, and a match for the 6310i. However, carsmovies informed me that the SL55 has a volume-boost feature (like Nokia), but that it kicks in quite early. He was certain that in the noisy conditions over at Square One the volume boost would have been in effect. I knew that the boost wasnít quite so easily triggered on the 6310i, and so it might not have been in effect on the Nokia. If that was the case, then the Nokia is a slightly louder phone. If the Nokia was boosting audio levels at that time, then the phones are virtually tied in this aspect.

Iím not about to sell my Nokia 6310i and buy an SL55, but if I had to replace my 6310i tomorrow (because it was lost, stolen, or broken) then I would give serious consideration to buying an SL55. This is rather expensive phone however, in a sea of other models with great feature sets (like the Nokia 3650). However, this is a much smaller phone, with nice styling, and unique slide that should make you the center of attention (if that sort of things turns you on).

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