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Nokia 6555 review: Nokia 6555

Nokia 6555

Kent German

Kent German

Senior Managing Editor / Features

Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

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7 min read


Nokia 6555

The Good

The Nokia 6555 offers a stylish and user-friendly design and a broad range of features including Bluetooth, 3G compatibility, and support for AT&T Push-to-Talk network. What's more, we liked the call quality.

The Bad

The Nokia 6555 had disappointing picture quality, and the speakerphone volume was rather low. It's also missing an FM radio and the battery life was poor.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia 6555 combines eye-catching design, a generous feature set, and admirable call quality into one satisfying device.

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.

The music player has a fairly minimalist design; its features include a repeat mode, an equalizer, stereo widening, and a flight mode for listening to music while aloft. Among the other music offerings are a music ID tool, XM satellite radio, MobiRadio and Billboard Mobile applications, and a selection of community services for connecting to other music fans. Unfortunately, there's no FM radio.

AT&T Video brings a satisfying range of streaming video clips, though it's arranged rather confusingly in the menu structure under Games and Apps. It offers content from such channels as NBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, The Weather Channel, VH1, and CNN. There's a special channel for kids as well, with programming from The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network, and Muppets Mobile. Premium entertainment is offered from HBO Mobile and Music Choice for an extra charge. For a full analysis of the offerings, see our AT&T Video review. MobiTV applications are integrated as well.

Nokia 6555
The Nokia 6555 lacks a flash for taking photos in dim settings.

The 1.3-megapixel camera takes photos in five resolutions, from 1,280x1,024 down to 160x120. Editing options include three quality settings, four color effects, a night mode, brightness and white-balance settings, a self-timer, a multishot option, and a digital zoom. The 6555's camcorder shoots clips with sound in two resolutions (176x155 and 128x96) and a set of editing options similar to the still camera's. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 20 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits.

Nokia 6555
The Nokia 6555's images tended to be too dark.

Speaking of which, the 6555 has 30MB of internal memory. That's a bit low for a multimedia phone, so we suggest investing in a microSD card. The phone's memory-card slot accommodates cards as large as 4GB. Photo quality was disappointing. Though colors were natural, the images were dim with visible splotches and lines.

You can personalize the 6555 with a variety of color themes, wallpapers, animations, and alert sounds. If you want more options or more ringtones, you can download them from AT&T's via the XHTML wireless Web browser. The 6555 includes four demo games titles: BrainChallenge, FF Fugitive 3D, Midnight Pool, and Tetris. You'll have to download the full versions for extended play. You also get a demo of the My-Cast 5 weather application for checking forecast across the United States. The application requires a subscription.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS) Nokia 6555 world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was quite nice on the whole. We enjoyed clear conversations with little static or distortion. Voices sounded natural, and the volume was sufficiently loud. Very occasionally the sound cut in and out for a second, but it wasn't enough to distract from the overall sharpness. What's more, we never had a dropped call and had little trouble getting a signal. On their end, callers reported no significant issues problems, save for a slight tinny quality to our voice. Automated calling systems had little trouble understanding us.

Speakerphone calls were clear, but the volume level was somewhat low. Indeed, we had trouble hearing callers, and they had trouble hearing us unless we were in a quiet room. On the upside, the front-facing speaker directs the audio toward you when using the speakerphone with the flip closed. We were able to connect the 6555 to a Bluetooth headset and experienced satisfying call quality.

The Nokia 6555 has a rated battery life of six hours talk time and 9.5 days standby time. Yet our tests revealed a much lower talk time of just 2 hours. That's a disappointing measurement for a Nokia and for a GSM phone. According to FCC radiation tests, the 6555 has a digital SAR rating rating of 1.25 watts per kilogram.


Nokia 6555

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 6
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