First Take: Siemens SK65

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Siemens SK65
Siemens' SK65 smartphone has Research In Motion's Blackberry solution built in, plus an innovative 'cross-to-type' keyboard.

Although Research In Motion (RIM) has partnered with other companies to allow access to its over-the-air Web-based email delivery services, the SK65 from Siemens is the only third-party smartphone to have the full Blackberry software and support for RIM's Blackberry Enterprise Services built in.

The advantage is that enterprises can push data to the SK65, providing better mobile access to calendar and email resources plus automatic synchronisation with office systems.

Our first look at the SK65 was in the controlled environment of the product's launch, and we were not able to check the data sharing and synchronisation facilities first-hand. However, we did give the handset an initial once-over for features and usability.

The device is small and light, measuring 47mm wide by 120mm deep by 22mm high and weighing 144g. Not too bad for a feature-packed smartphone that includes a relatively spacious QWERTY keyboard.

Think of a handset as being made up of two 'wedges', one sitting above the other, hinged at the central point. Swivel the two wedges around the hinge, and they part, locking again when they're at right angles to each other. The rearmost wedge reveals the 'QWERT' side of a keyboard to the left and 'YUIOP' side to the right. In the centre sits the numberpad from the front wedge.

Two-thumbed typing is possible -- indeed, we found this to be a more ergonomic experience than on Handspring's Treo 600. We doubt your average executive will be writing lengthy reports on his or her SK65, but composing the odd email using what Siemens calls its 'cross-to-type' system is distinctly possible.

There is no camera -- apparently to discourage use of the phone for personal activities and to attract enterprises wary of industrial espionage. However, most of the other expected specifications are present and correct.

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The SK65 is a tri-band GSM/GPRS phone. There is 30MB of user memory but no storage card support. The display delivers 16-bit colour, Bluetooth is integrated, and email support covers SMTP, IMAP4 and POP3. You get calendar, to-do and notes applications built in, along with Java and support for MIDI ringtones (the latter two features sit oddly with the camera's absence -- clearly this is not an entirely pin-striped, buttoned-down device).

Battery life is expected to run to around 300 minutes' talk time, and up to 250 hours on standby.

One omission interests us: the lack of Wi-Fi. If the SK65 is to become an all-purpose communication device, as Siemens suggest will be necessary for future handsets, shouldn't the SK65 cater for Voice over IP (VoIP)? But without Wi-Fi it can't join local wireless networks -- an omission that might become an issue before long. However, Siemens plans a range of high-end smart phones, so maybe Wi-Fi will show up soon.

The SK65 will come in three variants: a top-of-the-range version supporting Blackberry Enterprise Services; a 'prosumer' Web client-based version; and a standard ISP email variant with no RIM services on board.

Siemens would not give pricing for any of the three SK65 variants but expects the phone to become available in November in Europe, Middle East and Latin America with other regions to follow shortly afterwards (a local release date could not be given at time of publishing). Handsets are expected to be sold through network operators and retail, as well as direct to enterprises.

Specifications

Cellular
Technology GSM
Software Platforms Supported CLDC 1.1, Java, Java MIDP 2.0
Type cellular phone
Band EGSM 900 / GSM 1800/1900 (Tri-Band)
Phone Form Factor swivel
Service Provider not specified
Phone Features
Speech Codec AMR, EFR, FR, HR
Polyphonic Ringer Yes
Polyphonic Ring Tone Voice Qty 40
Ring Tone Formats MIDI, WAV
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, vibrating alert
Additional Features Intelligent typing (T9), push-to-talk mode
Details
Phone Design X2type (cross-to-type)
Antenna internal
Available Body Colors black/silver
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services EMS, MMS, SMS
Supported SMS Functions SMS MO (Mobile Originated), SMS MT (Mobile Terminated), concatenated SMS
WAP Protocol Supported WAP 2.0
Messaging Services EMS, MMS, RIM BlackBerry VM Client, SMS
Supported Email Protocols IMAP4, POP3, SMTP
Communications
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission GPRS
Wireless Interface Bluetooth, Infrared (IrDA)
Display
Multi-language Menu Yes
Technology TFT
Display Indicators GPRS indicator, SMS indicator, battery meter, digital clock, divert indicator, missed calls indicator, signal strength, voice message waiting
Display Illumination Color white
Display Resolution 132 x 176 pixels
Color Depth 16-bit (65000 colors)
Diagonal Size 2 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 5.1 cm
Color Support color
Features screensaver
Organizer
Personal Information Management alarm clock, calculator, calendar, currency conversion, reminder, stopwatch, synchronization with PC
Alarm Clock Yes
SIM Card Based Directory 250 names & numbers
Phone Book Entries Qty 2000
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MPEG-4, H.263
Memory
User Memory 30 MB
Battery
Run Time Details Talk: up to 300 min
Standby: up to 250 hrs
Security Features
Keypad Lock Yes
SIM Card Lock Yes
Restrict Access to Phone Book Yes
Header
Brand Siemens
Product Line Siemens
Model SK65
Packaged Quantity 1
Features
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Additional Features intelligent typing (T9), push-to-talk mode
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Video Standards H.263, MPEG-4
Power Adapter
Type power adapter
Flash Memory
User Memory 30 MB

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