Review by Michael Oryl on Monday February 07, 2005.
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Siemens SK65When we first caught wind of the Siemens SK65, I said to myself what I imagine many people did: "Huh. Why didn't I think of that?"
The the split body X shaped form factor seems so obvious to me now, especially after having used a Nokia 6820 for so long. But I suppose somebody had to actually think it up, obvious or not, and I'm just glad that Siemens not only thought of it, but actually did something with the thought.
SK65 Physical Design
Make no bones about it: the SK65 is a large phone. It weighs nearly as much as a Sony Ericsson P910, coming in at 147g. It is long and thick, too: 123mm x 47mm x 22mm. But it still fits the normal candybar form factor, and as such, is very pocketable. The gloss black and matte silver finish is very attractive, but the black surfaces are very prone to smudging. The front of the handset is home of the large, bright 132x176 pixel 64K color display, the metal screen inlay speaker grille, and the keypad and controls. The keypad, though low on the SK65's body, is quite usable, has no odd quirks to it, and is lit with a soft white backlight. The directional controller, or d-pad, also works very well. It is both large and easy to control accurately. The dual softkey call control buttons on either side of the d-pad also work well as long as you don't press them too hard. Since the pressing on the top end of the keys is how you get the softkey functionality and pressing on the bottom the call control features, pressing too hard can sometimes confuse the phone as to which you wanted since they don't have a solid pivot point in the middle. But that really will only be a problem for button mashers.
Up top on the SK65 you will find little more than a subdued IR port. On the bottom is the now familiar Siemens data/charger port. The back of the SK65 is very plain, being painted a semi-gloss black and having little to attract attention other than the external antenna port located there. The left side of the SK65 is bare, and the right side houses a pair of multi-purpose buttons that control volume and access a number of other features that I will discuss further in a minute.
But the real reason you are here is the hidden part of the design. The X Factor, so to speak. For when you turn the two halves of the SK65's body 90 degrees in opposite directions, a beautiful, very usable full QWERTY keyboard is revealed. For me, this keyboard design surpasses anything I have used on a mobile device so far. It is far and away better than the keyboards on Nokia's 6800 series, which are also split, and much more spacious and comfortable than the small thumbboards found on devices like PalmOne's Treo line. I even prefer it over Nokia's 9300 and 9500 Communicators. The design allows for the dedicated numeric keypad to be fully accessible. The fact that most basic punctuation characters can be accessed without a shift, and that the keyboard sports a very BMW-like red-orange backlight really seals the deal for me. It feels very solid and strong. I truly love this design.