Editor's note: The ratings of the Nokia 6555 were lowered after our initial review due to disappointing results in our battery-life testing.
Nokia has never been a company to blindly follow cell phone design fads; instead, it often waits awhile, then puts its own spin on the current design trend. For instance, rather than rushing to develop a thin Motorola Razr imitator, Nokia took its time and introduced the sexy and powerful Nokia N76. Now Nokia makes another stab at the slim handset trend with the new Nokia 6555 for AT&T. Though it's fatter than most trim handsets, its tall, slender shape gives it a soundly elegant look. Features are plentiful: there's Bluetooth, a music/video player, and Push-to-Talk (PTT) support. Call quality was quite nice, but the talk time battery life was much too low. The 6555 goes on sale on September 12 for $49 with service.
Though it may look like an average flip phone, the Nokia 6555 has a fairly unconventional design. As it measures 3.92x1.74x0.78 inches, it is tall and slim and quite striking. It feels very comfortable and solid in the hand, and it cradles the head well. As on the Razr, the antenna is on the bottom of the phone, so the 6555 has a similar "double chin." Yet, it's important to note that this bulge has a smooth, aerodynamic shape. The 6555 comes in black, silver, red, and brown; we reviewed the black model, but our comments are applicable for all versions.
On the 6555's front face is the sizeable (1.25 inches, 128x160 pixels) external display. It supports a full 262,000 colors, which put it far ahead of the external screens on most other cell phones. Colors were bright, and it works nicely as a viewfinder to take self-portraits. You can change the wallpaper as well. The camera lens is located just above the screen, while an external speaker is located below it. All three are surrounded by an attractive, silver band.
Completing the exterior of the phone are two controls on the left spine. The volume rocker is located on the left side of the front flap. That means it flips position when the phone is open, so it's important that you remember the "up" position of the rocker always increases the volume. When you're not on a call the volume rocker serves other functions. Pressing the up direction starts the camera, while pressing down activates the voice-dialing feature. This arrangement was a little confusing at first, but we got the hang of it relatively quickly. Also on the left spine are the PTT button and the mini-USB port, while the 2.5mm headset and charger jacks rest on the right spine.
The Nokia 6555's internal display is one of its highlights. Measuring 2 inches (320x240 pixels) and supporting 16 million colors, it's very easy on the eyes with rich colors and vibrant detail. Photos, graphics, and animations looked great, and there's a wealth of customization options. You can change only the font size and color. On the other hand, you can overlay a shortcut menu on top of the screen for accessing oft-used functions.
The navigation controls are large and well-designed. A silver four-way toggle surrounds a black menu/OK button. The toggle is tactile, so we had no issues browsing through the Series 40 menu interface. What's more, you can set the toggle to act as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. Surrounding the toggle are two soft keys, shortcuts to the Web browser and AT&T Video applications, talk and end/power buttons, and a camera/camcorder control. The navigation controls are flush with the surface of the phone, but their large size makes them user-friendly. The only thing we miss is a clear button.
The keypad buttons are also flush with the surface of the phone, but slight indentations mean you can almost dial by feel. They also have bright backlighting, but the numbers on the keys are rather small. Users with visual impairments should test the 6555 before buying. Our only real complaint with the 6555's design concerned the placement of the microSD card slot. It's stashed inconveniently behind the battery cover and the battery itself, the former of which is difficult to pry off.
The 6555 has a high-end feature set with emphasis on music. But we'll start with the basics first. The phone book holds 1,000 contacts with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a company name and job title, a formal name and a nickname, a birthday, a street address, and notes. You can save contacts to groups and pair them with any of 10 polyphonic ringtones for caller ID. You also can assign your friends a photo or a video, and the photos will show up on the external display.
Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a to-do list, a notepad, a calculator, a timer, and a stopwatch. You'll also find a selection of higher-end offerings, including a voice memo recorder; a unit converter; a world clock; voice commands and dialing; a speakerphone; PC syncing; POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail; AOL, Yahoo, and ICQ instant messaging; Bluetooth 2.0. USB mass storage; and support for AT&T's PTT network (the first such phone since the AT&T name change). A new addition to AT&T is the integration of MySpace Mobile, which allows you to access the social networking site via your phone.
AT&T chose the 6555 to highlight many of its 3G multimedia features. The phone's compatibility for AT&T Music allows you to buy music from partners such as Napster and Yahoo Music. You can browse tunes from your phone, but unlike the music service offered by Sprint or Verizon Wireless, AT&T Music does not allow you to download tracks wirelessly. Instead, they're delivered to your computer for later transfer to your phone.