The top half of the SL65 slides up to reveal the keypad underneath. We found no problem manipulating the keypad for text messaging as it gives enough space for big thumbs.
There are five soft keys surrounding the navigation stick, accessible with the slider in its closed position. One for answering calls, one for hanging up, one to access the WAP browser and two programmable shortcut buttons. We found the navigation key a bit too taxing when going through the phone's menus. Pressing it down to select an option is not always effective and we found ourselves frustrated after having to press it several times. We prefer using the soft keys to select an option instead.
Answering calls also requires users to slide the phone open, which makes us question what the call answer button is for (or the call terminate button for that matter since you can slide the phone close to terminate a call). The camera is located at the back of the phone with a small round mirror for taking self-portraits. A small speaker is located at the front of the phone, just above the screen for the SL65's handsfree option.
Having the sliding function is very handy when terminating and answering calls or closing a text message. Another benefit is that you don't have to manually lock or unlock the keypad because sliding the phone shut or open does it automatically.
Aside from being a camera phone, the SL65 also takes decent-sized videos up to 30 seconds in length. The videos and images can be sent with text and sound via e-mail or MMS.
Users can program specific profiles to suit their needs. For instance, you can increase the volume of your ringtone for your "noisy environment" profile so you can hear it while walking around the city or set it to silent for use in boardroom meetings.
Like the SL55, the Siemens SL65 doesn't have Bluetooth wireless connectivity but has a digital voice recorder and hands free capability.
Other features of the SL65 include downloadable Java games, screensaver, picture phonebook, alarm, reminder list, countdown timer and calendar. It can also send SMS, MMS and e-mail (once your account is set up) and synchronise with Microsoft Outlook.
The SL65 has a wide range of logos, backgrounds and around 40 polyphonic ringtones for users to choose from. Don't expect all of them to be good but at least there is variety.
Although we didn't really take that many photos and videos with the SL65, the 10.3MB memory is said to be capable of storing up to 100 video clips and more than 200 shots. Unfortunately there is no built-in flash with the camera for taking photos at night.
We found the SL65 to perform quite well with phone calls. It was clear and loud, even when on handsfree. However, we found the sliding process on the SL65 to be a bit difficult. Unlike Samsung's D500 and E800, where the slide-up movement feels spring-loaded, we had to give the SL65 an extra push to slide it open or close, sometimes mucking up the screen with thumbprints in the process.
For those not familiar with Siemens' menu structure the lack of things like a "back" option can be confusing -- we eventually realised that we had to press the navigation key left to go back to the previous menu. Another omission from the SL65 is emoticons. It may seem trivial but smiley faces are important in today's text messaging world.
Technology-wise, the Siemens SL65 is a better alternative to its little sibling, the SL55. Its screen is more colourful, there is a built-in VGA camera and it has more memory. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of size -- it is larger and heavier.