Windows Mobile Smartphones offer the familiar look of Windows coupled with the ability to sync your contacts, to dos and calendar, access email on the move and run third-party software. When operators take these handsets, they add their own specialities, which in Orange's case means over-the-air backup, ringtones and access to Orange's Web-based services.
Although Orange has jumped on the music phone bandwagon with the SPV C550, it also has other things we've not seen in a Windows Mobile Smartphone before. The main draw of this handset is that it updates a platform that's been around for a while.
The SPV C550 is only available from Orange and prices start from free with a £25-per-month contract.
The SPV C550 is a small and light handset. It feels very comfortable in the hand and fits nicely into a pocket. Its silver front and back are bisected by a black stripe all around the edge.
About half of the front of the casing is occupied by the screen, and a third by the numberpad area. In-between is a section containing no less than eight buttons, four of which are dedicated to music management.
The other four buttons in this section sit immediately beneath the screen and are absolutely tiny. The outer two are softkeys; the inner two take you to the Today screen and act as a back button. Though very small, we found these buttons remarkably easy to hit.
The numberpad itself is also fairly small, but each of the buttons is bevelled, again making them easy to find. Above the top row sit the Call and End buttons with, between them, a mini joystick. You use this for directional movement and, by pressing it, to select. It feels comfortable under the thumb.
The right side has a button which activates the built-in camera -- the lens and self-portrait mirror are on the back of the casing. The left side houses a button whose function users can set, and a rocker with several jobs. When you are on a call, it adjusts volume, while a long press of its top end launches the built-in Voice Notes software, and a long press of its bottom end launches the built-in Voice Tag software. You can use this to set up voice-activated shortcuts to phone numbers, email addresses or Web pages that are saved in the built in Contacts software.
On the top edge of the SPV C550 are the power switch and infrared ports. The bottom edge provides the headphones connector and synchronisation/mains power socket -- a mini-USB type. Both are protected by a single rubber cover.
All in all, the ergonomics of this handset are about neat, tidy usability. If you are currently a user of the SPV C550's predecessor, the SPV C500, then the joystick will be a particular plus-point over that handset's lozenge-shaped navigate-and-select key.