Siemens M56 (AT&T) review: Siemens M56 (AT&T)

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The Good Excellent call quality; built-in speakerphone; MMS; five-way conference calling; 17 polyphonic ring tones, LED "dynamic" lights.

The Bad Difficult-to-use keypad; uneven keypad illumination; washed-out, low-res color screen.

The Bottom Line Though it comes with a rich feature set, the M56 is mainly designed for teens and will not appeal to all mobile buyers.

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6.6 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Review summary

Siemens's eye-catching M56 looks like something you'd find hooked to a superhero's utility belt--which can be good or bad, depending on your age bracket. Grown-ups probably wouldn't want to bring the M56 into a boardroom, but teens will enjoy showing off this flashy, fairly inexpensive phone that has a decent feature set. That said, we weren't exactly wowed by the washed-out, low-res color screen and had a little trouble with the design of the dial-pad keys.

The M56 certainly makes an impression. The silver-and-gray case sports a dark-gold keypad designed in an arresting hourglass shape. Teens might get a kick out of the design, but the small, oddly shaped keys are hard to use. Measuring 1.8 by 0.8 by 4.0 inches and weighing a mere three ounces, the phone easily fits in a pants pocket or a purse.

Boosting the M56's wow factor are four thin LEDs on the left and right sides, which can be set to flash when a particular call or a new message comes in, when the phone powers up or down, or for other events. Again, you wouldn't want the LEDs to flicker while you're in the middle of a meeting, but kids carousing on campus will appreciate the effect.

The M56 falters with its disappointing seven-line, 4,096-color display. The palate is washed out, and the graphics are decidedly low-res, especially when compared with the vivid images on the Samsung SGH-x105 and the Sony Ericsson T616. The animated top-level menus are serviceable, but we found scrolling through the other items frustrating, as you typically can see only one option in the list at a time.

The M56 delivers when it comes to features. The mobile includes SMS, MMS, wireless e-mail and Web access via GPRS networks, a 500-entry address book (including 250 names you can store on the SIM card), voice commands, 20-number voice dialing, five-way conference calling, a speakerphone, a stopwatch, a calendar, a currency converter, and a to-do list.