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Review GSM phone Philips 636

Philips 636. Live pictures

Standard kit:

  • Handset
  • Charger
  • Manual

Philips decided to offer a simplified version of Philips 639, a unique peculiarity of external PolyLED screen with a mirror surface was refused in this low-end variant. In fact the new model is a straight descendant of Philips 330 but equipped with an external screen with the resolution of 80x48 pixels. Analog clock are displayed on the outer screen but no any own headbands may be used. During an incoming call the number of the caller is displayed on this screen.

The size of the phone is a bit smaller than average for its class (79x43x21 mm and 100 mm in height when opened). The weight is 66 grams though the manufacturer announced 78 grams. In general the form-factor of the phone is good and the device may be carried just as you like.

The phone is available in three colour solutions, they are Blue Pacific, Red Temptation, Silver Knight. There is a coupled volume level button on the left-side surface, a connector for a handsfree headset and a charger (protected with a rubber cover) is on the right-side surface.

On the bottom you may see an interface connector that is corresponding with other devices of the line. There is a strip hole on the top of the phone.

A back cover hides a battery and is fixed with only one catch and thus a slight vertical backlash appears. It is almost unnoticeable and doesn't get larger with time.

According to the manufacturer the Li-Ion battery, 600 mAh is capable of working for up to 400 hours in the standby mode and up to 4 hours in the talk mode. Phones by Philips do really work longer in average than rival phones but it is still not long enough. We tested the phone in Moscow and it worked for 4 days in case of 35 minutes of talk time and 25 minutes of using other functions. This is an acceptable time and is a bit longer than its rivals may provide.

Having opened the phone you'll see an internal screen that is square and has the resolution of 128x128 pixels. It may show up to 6 text lines and one service line. The screen is 65K, TFT. The colours of the screen are not very bright and it fades in the sun. As for the quality of the picture the screen takes an intermediate position between cSTN and TFT. On the one hand it is much better than in such phones as Motorola v180, v220, on the other hand it is inferior to TFT screens by Samsung. As for me, the screen lacks brightness and contrast a bit, but on the other hand the improvement of these characteristics would certainly shorten the working time of the phone. There are many pictures in the internal memory that show how well a picture may look on this screen.

A screen saver (clock on the black background) remained as a rudiment from 530, it may be seen if the clamshell is not closed for some time. But perhaps it is kept on purpose.

A keypad is of plastic and the buttons are sunk into the body. Thanks to their dimensions no discomfort appears when working with the phone. The device is comfortable in dialling a number and typing SMS as well. There is an orange backlighting that is seen well only in the complete dark. The characters on the keys are viewed well in all the conditions.

The peculiarity I have completely forgotten to mention is a SIM-card holder. It is a movable catch, the construction is unique, I haven't seen similar holders yet. In general no any doubts about its reliability appear.


The organization of the menu is typical for the phones by Philips. The main menu is a number of animated icons disposed in a circle, you may move along the menu using a joystick. Getting to an upper level is possible by pressing C button. If you try to quit with the help of Off button like on the phones by other manufacturers nothing will happen. There is no quick navigation along the menu using digital series. It is partly replaced by a possibility to assign tags and menu items to 8 buttons. Thus if to press 5 in the standby mode you'll call the calculator. One should remember that the more menu items they assign to the buttons the less numbers are at their disposal for one touch dialing, these possibilities are united in the phone.

Almost all the submenus are represented as icons. If you use the functions hidden deep inside the menu frequently you'll have to work with the navi button much or assign voice tags to this items. There is a possibility to keep up to 40 voice tags in internal memory, they can be used to access the most frequently used items of the menu. Then a deep nesting of the menu matters nothing and it is necessary only to switch to this option.

Phone book. Up to 300 numbers may be kept in internal memory and there is a possibility to fill in such fields as Name, Surname, Note, up to 5 numbers and one e-mail address. Switching to the phone book from the standby mode is possible if to move the navi button down. Only phone book in the internal memory or SIM-card memory may be viewed at once. Only names and surnames are displayed in the list; if an entry can't be placed on the screen it is scrolled automatically. For a selected entry a phone type icon is shown to the right and moving to any side allows to choose other numbers for the name. Even if there are no any other entries for the name the arrows near the icon will be active. The first number you entered in the memory will be displayed the first that allows not to set numbers by default specially. To dial the selected number it is enough to press Call button. If you need to know what number is entered for this or that name you'll have to look through the menu. The same is necessary if you want to assign a voice tag (up to 40) to some numbers. Speech recognition works well excluding that fact that it is possible to set the same word for different numbers. In this case the phone will always call the last saved tag, another one will be stored in the memory but never used.

There is a search by the first one letter in the general list. If to press once more nothing will happen, you'll have to flick through at least one name to activate the quick search by the first letter again. That is because of the fact that the search is possible by all the letters, that means that, for instance, for such a surname as Ivanov one should press 4(ghI)-8(tuV)-2(Abc).

There is a possibility to choose not only own melody but own pictures (PhotoCall) for 20 groups, then they will be displayed during an incoming call with the name of the calling user.

Messages. Messages, here incoming messages are read and new ones are entered. When looking through the list of messages each selected one is shown automatically (a creeping line) and when opening a certain message it is also scrolled automatically but in a full screen mode. This is rather interesting and attractive. There are 10 templates in English, that is traditional. One of the many icons or a simple melody (EMS) may be sent with a message. Pictures for EMS are very interesting, they are various and are drawn with humor.

The device allows to save messages to an SMS archive and move entered messages into the folder with saved ones automatically.

Integrated mail client can work with usual mail boxes (up to 2), POP3 and SMTP. There is a possibility to set the receiving via GPRS connection, in general it is attractive but attachments are not supported (excluding JPG), doesn't understand Russian coding excluding ISO. The maximum size of a message is 10 KB.

Settings. Everything is simple, there is a possibility to set a security level (a traditional list), set one of 5 themes that change the design of the windows, set a working period for backlighting (up to 1 minute), adjust a screen saver and etc.

All the call signal settings, vibrating alert, mixed signal are also here. And the thing that is interesting is settings of an equalizer that work during a conversation, there are 5 of them. They appeared thanks to AMR-code. The problem is that an operator has to support the function, my attempts to change the settings and hear the difference brought no success, the sound in the loud speaker remained the same.

There are profiles and all the values for all the parameters are set invariably, they may be changed at will only in Personal profile. That doesn't add any flexibility to the phone settings and thus there is only one profile in this model.

Multimedia. This menu contains several functions at the same time, let's consider them in order.

Picture Album. There is a list of pictures preset in the phone, there are many of them and these are pictures of animals and children mainly. All the images are stored as JPG. You may view the current picture, choose one of the images as a headband (background) for the standby mode. A screen saver may be created from a picture or their series. The last two tasks are implemented in the settings menu. Also icons that are used for EMS may be viewed in this list.

Sound Album. Album of sounds, here melodies and dictaphone records are stored, the last ones may be used as call melodies or reminders.

Dictaphone. There is a possibility to store a number of records in the internal memory , the dictaphone works both in the standby mode and in the talk mode (records both users). The length of the record depends on the free memory.

Memory counter. Shows the size of used and free memory this option is convenient because you can view the distribution of memory between the applications in percentage terms. Also if to choose an application it is possible to see the number of entries and their total capacity. This representation in details is useful for those who want to know exactly what and where is stored. The total memory size is 1978 KB and 450 of them are used from the beginning.

BeDJ. The last option in this menu is a musical editor BeDJ. By the highest standards you can mix different tracks in existing melodies and choose various tones for them. The function looks not bad as an entertaining one especially if you are not a stranger to musical experiments.

Games and applications. This menu includes various useful functions like an alarm clock. It may be set as once, everyday and only for working days.

The calculator is rather simple, no any peculiarities.

The phone doesn't support Java applications but does support In-Fusio game platform that allows to upload new games to the phone (not in Russia). It is necessary for your operator to support this platform and provide a corresponding service for it. There are two games in the phone, they are fisticuffs and a version of an arcanoid.

Organizer. As it follows from the name here the organizer is. The calendar may be shown in month, week view. When using month view all the days with the kept events are marked out and in the week view there is a division on days and an icon of the event is set opposite to a day. There are three types of events - meeting, holiday and business. The start and finish date are set for each event, they may be recurrent (day, week, month and year). Also an alert may be set for an event. The one bad thing is that when an event snaps into action it demands confirmation and it irritates sometimes. There is a possibility to erase all the old events at once. In general the organizer is acceptable but not more. The memory of the organizer and the phone book are shared dynamically. The surprise is that keeping 300 entries in the phone book is possible only when there are no any notes in the organizer. A common number of entries for the phone book and organizer is 300.

Call list. Call list is general that means that it contains missed, incoming and dialed numbers and date and time are specified for each if it is necessary. The list may contain 30 entries and is called with moving the joystick up. The numbers from the list may be used the same way as from the phone book (messages, view details and etc). Calls with the same number are not summed up and are displayed one after another and it may not be convenient for the majority of users.

Operator Services. From here you may access the WAP-browser. There are no any peculiarities and with supporting GPRS (4+2) everything works properly.


The phone rouses no any cavils as for the quality of the connection. It works well in the city and provides a reliable connection. The sound in the loud speaker is rather clear and is reproduced well. The volume of 32-tones polyphonic call signal is average and it may be heard not always and not in all the conditions, on the other hand melodies sound not bad and not rude. The vibrating alert is average in power.

The main buyers are young girls and boys (in the ratio of 50 to 50). The company refused applying any new functions that distinguish the device from Philips 530 functionally and even refused IrDA having considered it superfluous. It is often unnecessary for the target group and thus its absence shouldn't be considered a minus.

The price of Philips 636 is now 175 USD that is 25-30 USD less than Philips 639 has. The new model is much of a low-end solution for the youth and is rather expensive. Just to compare, models of the same class by Siemens, Motorola are more functional and cost the same or even less (for example, CF62 costs about 145 USD). That is why it is possible to say that Philips 636 is a niche solution and will get popular when the price falls to 120-125 USD.

Ringtone samples (330 KB, mp3)

Links on the topic:

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maria Mitina (maria.mitina@mobile-review.com)

Published — 3 October 2004

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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