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Review GSM phone Philips 659

Philips 659. Live pictures

Standard kit:

  • Handset
  • Charger
  • Manual

Philips often places ODM orders and also comes as such a provider itself, for instance, the last example is a model for Siemens. The company released a middle-class (almost low-end) clamshell Philips 630 in the beginning of 2004 that was well distinguished by the presence of a radio. Philips decided to represent a renewed device based on the model equipped with an integrated VGA camera. Unfortunately, Philips 659 doesn't have a radio and the model got similar to many others in characteristics.

The design is familiar because of the last models created in the same style, it is unordinary and sticks to the memory easy. There is a bright metallic plastic on the outer surface, it may be in various colours (blue, red, gray). And also here is an OLED-screen (3 colours, mostly it is blue, the resolution is 96x64 pixels). The outer screen is seen well in the sun, time and status bar are displayed on it by default. The number of the caller is indicated during an incoming call.

The dimensions of the phone (89.2x45.6x23.3 mm) and its weight (89 grams) are characteristic for the devices of this class. It is comfortable to hold in a hand and the only minus is its outer antenna. For the sake of justice, it should be noted that only some of the devices in this segment do have an integrated antenna and all of them are not novelties.

There are two volume level buttons and a special key for system events (when navigating along the menu it may serve as OK button) on the left-side surface. An interface connector is traditionally on the bottom end (it is different to the one in Philips 630).

There is a camera gap and a mirror on the back panel. The camera block is much similar to the one in the phone line by LG, G5500 in particular.

Having opened the device you'll see an inner 65K TFT display that has the resolution of 128x160 pixels (32x38 mm) and shows up to 7 text lines and two service ones. The quality of the picture is not so bad but preset pictures and the interface itself are not very interesting. In some kind it is characteristic for Asian manufacturers of the second and the third echelons, not so much of attention is paid to the quality of an interface.

Information on the screen is readable in the sun and it is a plus of the model. It is inferior to the ones in the 65-series by Siemens but is enough readable.

The keypad is average in comfort and has a blue backlighting that may be seen well not in all the conditions, sometimes the characters merge. Digital keys are distanced well and are medium in size. The functional keys block is designed not so ordinary but it makes no troubles. And in general it is possible to say that the keyboard is rather comfortable.

A Li-Ion 600 mAh battery is hidden behind the back panel. According to the manufacturer the devices is capable of working for about 3 hours in the talk mode and up to 300 hours in the standby mode. In Moscow the phone worked for 3 days in case of 40 minutes of talk time and 20 minutes of using other functions. It is not the leader in the working time but is not an outsider also, just a typical average phone. Full charging time is about 1.5 hours.

A SIM-card holder is standard, there are no any peculiarities.


Menu structure is not traditional for the old models by Philips. There are 9 icons (3 rows) in the main menu. There is a quick switch to another view of the main menu that is one icon and a tip for it. In difference to many other models this is made with one press. It is possible to move from one item to another in the main menu using functional keys and the same is for submenus represented as lists. There is a possibility to assign different functions to keys with numbers, also there are voice commands that may be assigned to certain menu items. Let's consider the main possibilities of the device in order.

Phone book. Up to 500 phone numbers can be stored in the phone memory. Up to 5 phone numbers, e-mail address, a text note, an address, IM number can be added to each name. You can choose a phone number displayed first in the list of the phonebook by default (icon near the name). To view other phone numbers you should see details of the name. Both phone numbers from the phone memory and SIM-card are displayed in the total list. Phone numbers from SIM-card memory are marked by a special icon. There is a search by first letter and a special search by a part of the name. There are several caller groups in the phone. You can set a special ringing tone for each of them.

Messages. Up to 100 messages are stored in the phone memory. There are 10 templates and a set of pre-installed groups of messages. The phone supports predictive text input T9, so, it is very easy to input messages. It is very convenient to choose addresses to send messages. You can choose several addresses at once. It’s a little bit strange that you can add an icon only in the very end (after you wrote the message and chose an address). It’s not logical. Set of icons is standard for the phones manufactured by Philips. The choice is great and all pictures are amazing.

There is a support for MMS, everything is quite clear and plain. The total memory size for messages is 1.2 MB.

A separate item in the Messages is QQ instant messenger but it needs a support of the operator.

Call list. There are 3 call lists in the phone, each one supports up to 10 records. It is also possible to view date and time of calls for each record. Call timers and counter of GPRS-traffic are situated here too.

Profiles. There are 5 profiles in the phone. You can change all settings for each one on the contrast to other phones by Philips. The realization of this function is very convenient.

Call divert. All the possibilities may be guessed by the name.

Settings. You can adjust volume of the ringing tone, choose one of the 20 preset ringing tones. Settings of the internal screen may be adjusted here too, that is choosing one of the headbands, calendar or organizer view or world time function. It is also possible to choose one of the 4 pictures, view of the calendar or world time function for the internal screen.

List of keys assigned to commands and list of voice commands are stored in this menu.

There are black and white lists of phone numbers. This function allows to cut off undesirable phone numbers.

Tools. A calendar in the organizer has weekly and monthly views. Only two kinds of events can be added (reminder and meeting). Each event can be once or repeat several times. Past events can be automatically deleted. Up to 30 events are stored in the phone memory. The number is not large, but users of this class doubtly need more.

There are 3 alarm-clocks, which also can be once or repeat daily (weekly, etc.) Any ringing tone from the default list can be chosen from the list.

The calculator is very convenient thanks to the graphical representation.

Stopwatch and countdown timer, world time function are traditional.

There is an interesting function of turning the phone on and off at a certain time, it may be useful.

A dictaphone allows to make records for up to 30 seconds in duration, the number of records is limited by the free memory (3 records by default).

Biorhythms. Input your birthday and know more about your daily biorhythms.

Games. There are six games in the phone: Reflexes, Smartmove, LuckyStar, Snake, Mine, Breakout. The first game is a classical Tetris, the mission in the second one is to move balls to their places, the third one is a slot-machine simulator. Then a mine-layer and an arcanoid follow.

WAP. It’s not very expensive to view wap-resources with a help of this phone (1.2.1 browser), because it supports GPRS. There are no other ways to use GPRS here, because IrDA is absent, cable is not a reasonable purchase but then Philips 659 may be turned into a wireless modem.

Camera. A VGA camera supporting x4 zoom is integrated into the phone. There are various effects and frames that may be applied to the taken photos. If the cable and IrDA are absent then it is impossible to transfer the photos to a PC. The photos look not bad on the screen of a PC.

Also the phone may record video, in general it is possible to have 1 minute clip (MJPEG). There is a possibility to set the frequency of frames for a record. 1.8 MB are for photos and video.


As for the reception quality there are no any cavils to the phone, it proved itself rather well in city. The sound is clear and pleasant. The volume of 32-tones polyphonic call signal is rather high, the phone may be heard well in different conditions and even in the street. The number of preset melodies is not big but there is an opportunity to load new MIDI files. The power of the vibrating alert is corresponding to the sound signal, it may be felt from an overcoat or a bag well. The minus is that there is no a mixed call signal and it is possible to set only a sound signal or the vibrating alert.

The model will appear in the end of September and the starting retail price will be 300-310 USD. The price of the model is high and the manufacturer hopes that the camera will make the phone attractive. Considering such rivals as Motorola v300, v500, Sony Ericsson Z600 with the same or even lower price one shouldn't expect high sales of Philips 659. The model will remain niche and will get demanded only in the beginning of the next year with the fall of the price (less than 200 USD). Philips 630 is a rival of the phone in the line by Philips, because many people do not need a camera, MMS but want to have a radio. And summing up I'd like to stress that Philips 659 remains a niche model of the company.

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

Published — 23 September 2004

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



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