Mini-Review of the Siemens S55

The S55 is full-featured tri-mode GSM phone from Seimens that includes Bluetooth, a color screen, GPRS, MMS, optional 640x480 mini-camera attachment, and lots more. In many ways itís very much like the Ericsson T68i, and in fact I couldnít shake the feeling that I was testing a T68i throughout my time with the S55.

Last Updated: 02-Mar-2003


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

Special thanks to Jorg Gutzeit (AKA "carsmovies") for letting me try his S55, and for providing me with the two sample photographs appearing at the bottom of this article.

The more I thought about it, the more the similarities between the S55 and the T68i seemed to emerge. I re-read my review of the T68i, and the conclusions I came to about virtually every aspect of that phone were spot-on for the S55. I canít prove it, but Iím guessing the S55 uses the same motherboard as the Ericsson phone.

The similarities in these two phones begin with its appearance. While the overall shape and style of the S55 is clearly different from the T68i, the size and proportions are not. And then thereís the screen. It seems to be the same size, resolution, and type as the one on the T68i, though without having one of those Ericsson phones to compare to, I couldnít say for certain. It had the same darkish appearance when the backlight was off, and it looked about the same brightness and overall quality with the backlight on. There's no way the screen is anywhere near as bright as it looks in the above photograph, which was obviously retouched to make the phone look that good for the ads.

Similarities continue with the overall feature set, which seem almost identical on both phones. These common features include: built-in Bluetooth, MMS, EMS, an optional camera that plugs into the bottom, and a bevy of other lesser features. The menu systems are clearly different, but the S55 has an abundance of Ericsson-isms that Iíve never seen implemented by any other manufacturer. These include the use of the END button to power the phone on and off, as well acting as the back button in most menu situations.

The similarities then continue with an examination of the RF and audio characteristics of the S55. Almost without exception, the things I noticed about the RF and audio were identical to the comments Iíd made about the T68i. The RF is good, but not quite as good as the Motorola P280. The audio is well balanced, but a tad on the tinny side (especially the outgoing audio).

Because Iíd been so disappointed with the handoff characteristics of the Seimens S40 model (which I tested over a year ago) I decided to see how well the S55 handled them. Not only were the handoffs very tame on the new phone, they also happened to be very Ericsson-like in many aspects.

The only thing I can comment on concerning the S55 (that has nothing to do with the T68i) is the design of the keypad. While the keypad has excellent feedback and feel, it suffers from having more style than substance. The pound and star keys for example are way too small, and they are difficult to press accurately. There is also a hint of the butted together design that I disliked so much in the Samsung S105 and N105 models.

The S55 uses a more conventional four-way button for cursor movement, as opposed to the joystick found on the T68i, but I found the button too small to accurately determine which direction I was choosing. In this case Iíd have to give the Ericsson joystick higher marks for ease-of-use.

Given the extreme similarities between the S55 and the T68i, you should also read my review of the T68i to get a better feel for what I thought of that phone. Virtually everything I say about the Ericsson phone (except for the layout of the keypad and other physical aspects of the phones that are different), you can accept as a dead-ringer for my feelings about the S55.

Below are a couple of sample photographs taken by the add-on camera. One shows a rocking horse without the flash, and the second shows the same rocking horse using the flash.