AT&T is aggressively pushing its 3G network, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Nokia 6555. Priced at just $49 with a rebate and two year contract, the 6555 is an attractive little clamshell that sports a decent feature set, including a 1.3-megapixel camera, AT&T Music, integrated IM clients, push-to-talk (PTT), and stereo Bluetooth.
The Nokia 6555 looks pretty nifty, if somewhat retro. The first thing you'll notice when the phone is closed is the silver racing stripe around the face and back battery panel. We appreciate the sporty look, but the stripe calls to mind an '87 Trans Am a bit too strongly. PTT is accessible from the 262,000-color, 128 x 160-pixel resolution external LCD, but that's about it. You can use the external display to take pictures and video, but you first have to initialize the camera from the keypad.
Flipping open the clamshell reveals a two-inch QVGA screen capable of displaying 16.7 million colors. The phone felt a little flimsy in our hands: The plastic casing was just a bit too easy to bend and ply. We like the tactile keypad, as well as the hot keys for jumping directly to AT&T Music, Cellular Video, and the camera function.
The Nokia 6555 uses AT&T's slower UMTS data network (not HSDPA), but we were able to surf at good speeds using the MEdia Net browser. NYTimes.com loaded in 8 seconds; CNN.com loaded in 6; and Yahoo.com, which tripped up because of browser formatting, loaded in 11 seconds. Video clips also queued up quickly. Cellular Video content from CNN and ESPN loaded in just five seconds, but we noticed some lag, and the videos looked grainy. A 200KB game of Konami's Pirate Poppers downloaded in just five seconds.
Although this phone integrates Napster and Yahoo Music, we found the experience sorely lacking. Both services offer only side-loading via your PC, and Yahoo has the added drawback of requiring login information, which you can't create from the phone. XM Radio implementation was much better; it lets you start your free trial or purchase service from the phone and gain access to XM's streams. Music ID also worked well, and we were able to identify our Coheed and Cambria tracks accurately.
We were intrigued by Billboard Mobile's "The Buzz" music portal; using The Buzz you can search artists' discographies and biographies, download ringtones, and browse tour dates, although you can't purchase concert tickers over the air.
AT&T includes integrated IM clients, which impressed us. Using the options menu, you can sign into your AIM, Windows Live, or Yahoo Messenger accounts. The implementation was very clean, and we were able to sign in easily and leave the app running in the background. We couldn't find a way to sign into multiple accounts on AOL, Windows, or Yahoo, however.
Voice quality on the 6555 was good. We didn't notice any muffling, echoes, or garbling on our calls, even though the volume seemed a bit low. Battery life is satisfactory, at a rated six hours of talk time, but we noticed that using the 3G data connection shortens that very quickly. We had to recharge the phone after just over a day of heavy data use. We were also easily able to connect the phone to our Altec Lansing T515 speaker via Bluetooth, which provided good stereo sound.
If you need an excuse to jump into 3G, the Nokia 6555 may be just what you're looking for and is a decent alternative to the Samsung Sync.
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