Like its cousin, the CT56, Siemens's A56 GSM handset delivers strong call quality with a limited feature set. The main difference between the units is that the A56 doesn't have a speakerphone or support for J2ME, so you can't download applications or games. But customers looking for an entry-level mobile phone will find this a serviceable unit. Although it features the same small footprint as the CT56--weighing 3 ounces and measuring 4 by 1.7 by 0.8 inches--the A56 sports a slightly more rounded look. The buttons are small but raised sufficiently for easy dialing. If you don't like the phone's blue faceplate, you can swap it out for another ClipIt model.
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Pocket-friendly: This compact mobile won't take up a lot of room.
Inserting and removing the required SIM card can be a tricky affair. The card has a tendency to spring itself out of the unit instead of merely popping up when you're trying to remove it. During insertion, it helps if you have sharp nails to close the latch that secures the card.
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Load it up: The headset and the belt clip may not be included, but they're worthwhile additions.
As with the CT56, the A56 won't let you maintain a running tally of your call usage. The only way you can tell how long you've been on your current call is to take the handset away from your face and click the menu button. We wish that it would display the elapsed time on the screen during the call by default.
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Charge it up: The A56 recharges quickly.
We managed to get nearly 4 hours of talk time on a single charge--short of the maximum rating of 5 hours but solid, nonetheless. The battery's standby time, however, was only 70 hours, while Siemens rates it at up to 250 hours. Such times are network dependent, and we suspect our abbreviated standby time was due to the fact that we were out of Cingular's range and had to access the alternate networks.