BenQ-Siemens S68 review: BenQ-Siemens S68
The BenQ-Siemens S68 is a slimline minimalist mobile for calls and messaging. Intuitive design, straightforward functions and a few useful extras make the handset easy to use, but if you're looking for an extensive array of features this isn't for you
The BenQ-Siemens S68 keeps it simple and straightforward. While there's no camera or expandable memory slot, BenQ-Siemens has got the balance right between a compact design and a simple interface. If you're looking for a mobile phone that combines an easy-to-understand interface and a light and thin handset, this is definitely worth checking out.
The BenQ-Siemens S68 is currently available at T-Mobile for free on a monthly contract.Design
The BenQ-Siemens S68 is a simple and slim candybar handset made from brushed aluminium and black plastic. It measures 44mm by 107mm by 13mm and weighs a pocket-friendly 76g. The front section of the S68 is divided into two sections. The top section contains a 28mm by 37mm screen that displays 262,000 colours and the bottom section houses an alphanumeric keypad.
The screen is bright and large enough to read text messages easily, but viewing Web pages is slightly more difficult. Underneath the screen there are two soft keys and a four-way navigation rocker with an OK button in the middle. To the right and left of the navigation key below the top soft keys are the 'send call' and 'end call' keys.
The keys on the keypad are large and easy to press. We particularly like that they are raised, as this makes it easier to distinguish between them and generates a high level of tactile feedback. Our only niggle with the keypad is the four-way navigation rocker, which is very thin and therefore harder to press than the rest of the keypad.
There's a voice recorder and fast-dial rocker key on the left of the phone. When you push it up you activate the voice recorder and when you press it down it activates the fast dial mode. The fast dial mode is similar to speed dial, however this only holds one number and you have to confirm the call before it connects.
On the right side of the S68 there's a dedicated rocker that lets you adjust the volume during calls and when using the media player. The back of the phone is minimalist -- in line with the rest of the phone. There's no camera, just a smooth surface with a small embossed BenQ-Siemens logo at the top. To enable you to remove the back cover there are two small sections that stick out on either side -- by pressing them in, the cover is released and you can access the battery and SIM slot.Features
The BenQ-Siemens S68 is not only simple on the outside, it's also simple on the inside. It doesn't lack in features though, it just has a very intuitive, easy-to-understand menu. To access the menu you press the OK button and then search by pressing up or down to scroll through each section. This might seem an obvious feature to highlight, but as menus are becoming increasingly difficult to access, it is a significant benefit.
Once you're in the menu, each section is depicted using an icon and text. It's easy to understand which sections do what and nothing is overcomplicated. In addition to the navigation rocker, you have the option to designate the soft keys on the keypad to access applications in the menu by simply pressing one key.
Fortunately this simple interface is complemented by a few useful features. It has Bluetooth and GPRS connectivity, a WAP browser, an email client and a speakerphone mode. You can also send and receive MMS, SMS and email messages, take notes, record your voice, input calendar appointments, set an alarm clock, check world time zones and play Java games.
If you need to synchronise your S68 with your computer you can use the software provided to exchange contact data and Microsoft Outlook data. You can also access the phone's organiser and send SMS messages -- all from the comfort of your PC. We couldn't get it to work with a Bluetooth connection, but this may have been due to a problem with our Bluetooth dongle. Alternatively, you can use a proprietary USB cable, but you will have to buy it separately.
Our major niggle with the S68 is that the menu can be buggy at times, hindering the simple layout. It occasionally seemed slow to respond and crashed halfway through a text message, but this may have been a problem with our specific handset. It also only has 26MB of internal memory and no expandable memory slot. While 26MB is more than enough for simple phone tasks, using the S68 as a portable flash drive or MP3 player is not really possible.Performance
The audio quality on calls is clear, with no distortion or muffling. We could hear people clearly and we could have a conversation without raising our voices.
Battery life is quoted at 300 minutes of talk time and 300 hours of standby time. We also found that since there were fewer features to play around with, we used the phone less and therefore the battery lasted longer.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Elizabeth Griffin