Siemens SX1

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Siemens SX1
Siemens mixes business with pleasure with the SX1 -- a smart phone which isn't just a pretty face. Read our Australian review.

The SX1 has all the features that we have seen in smart phones before. Built on the open-source Symbian platform, the SX1 features a tailored Siemens mobile version of the Series 60 interface and application platform. It has Bluetooth, a built-in digital camera, a radio, PDA functionality, POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP e-mail support and all the requisite connectivity functions.

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And like other smart phones it is clever enough to share diary, contact and task list information with your PC either via Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. In the box you get synchronisation software and a connection cable and it comes with a range of other features that help it rival a PDA.

But unlike other smart phones, the Siemens SX1 will get you noticed at parties. It's wide, it's striking looking and it's just a little bit different.

Measuring 109 x 56 x 19 mm and weighing 116 grams the SX1 might make you feel a bit ill at ease at first. The main reason for this, and also the main talkinig point at parties, is its defining and perhaps "win or lose" feature -- the quirky keypad which sits not below the display but either side of it.

On the left of the display are the digits one to five and the star button, and to the right six to zero and the hash. Like most things, it's a certainty that with time this would feel right and normal, but not in the review period. It was a struggle to send SMS messages, a task involving a lot of concentration and frowning whilst you work out which button to press. You can't just bash out a message and off it goes. You need to grip the phone and unless you've got very long fingers you need to use both hands, which is clumsy if you happen to be carrying shopping bags or trying to open a car door at the same time.

Underneath this unusual display there is a 5-direction joystick and two soft-keys. This is all good. On either side there are buttons for answering and rejecting a call. Beneath there is a "C" button for deleting symbols during typing and a "shift" button for use when working with lists and texts. These buttons are huge, because they can be.

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Buttons aside, the display itself is very impressive, even in direct sunlight. The handset is equipped with a 65,000 colour TFT display, with a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels. The keypad glows blue. At the bottom of the phone there is a port for connecting a battery charger, a serial cable and headphones. At the top there is an IrDA port. On the back there is slot for connecting inner antenna and the digital camera.

There is 4MB of memory on board the SX1 and an MMC card slot is present on the left side of the handset so you can add more memory if required. Siemens supply a blank 64MB Multimedia Memory Card in the package.

Once switched on, the phone takes a while to load but once there, it's very impressive. In standby mode you have a display of icons, operator and date information. The 12 icons on the menu are displayed as a grid, nine at a time.

The phone carries SMS, MMS and email messaging. The Internet and camera functions are pretty much faultless. The camera allows you to take stills and video and also to edit photos using the image editor. The camera takes a while to load so you need to be on your guard at all times so as to capture candid shots before it's too late. But once snapped, the photos are of excellent quality.

The camera captures stills at resolutions up to 640 x 480 and movies (with sound) up to 176 x 144 pixels (15 fps). You can store up to 70 photos in the internal memory, more with the memory card, and they can be transferred via IrDA, Bluetooth or MMS.

The organiser function contains a calendar (with daily, weekly and monthly view modes), task list, notes, calculator, voice memo and converter for currencies and measurements. An interesting feature is scheduled messaging: you can set the organiser to send message at a specified time, which is handy if you're a bit forgetful.

The phone comes with an MP3 player and radio. You can store up to 6 frequencies of radio stations and music can be listened to through the same headset that is used for hands free operation. The MP3 player produces great sound quality, and plenty of volume through the phone's speaker.

There are three pre-installed games: Sitris, Mozzies and TypeGun, the latter a clear tool to help you get used to the unusual keypad. The phone also supports Java technology, so more games and applications can be added.

For synchronicity's sake, the SX1 comes with a USB data cable and software CD. After connecting the phone to PC, you are asked to install the software. Software includes Siemens Data Suite, which is all very straightforward to use and has the capacity to synchronise the phone's organiser with Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes.

There were no problems with the battery, although the features of the phone mean that if you use it intensively it will only last about a day, but it has a standby time of 200 hours and up to 4 hours of talk time.

If you can get used to the crazy keypad, this is an excellent phone and a bit of an ice breaker to boot!

Siemens SX1
Company: Siemens
Price: AU$1,099
Distributor: Selected resellers
Phone: 1300 665 366