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(Pocket-lint) - Hands up if you bought the SPV C550? If so, you have our sympathy, seriously. That mobile promised so much and delivered … well … a couple of extra buttons so you could access the MP3 player, more sluggish response times than the C500 and … well, that was about it. But Orange has come good again with the C600, the true replacement for the ageing C500 and one of the best compact smartphones on the market.

The obvious improvement over most of the previous devices in this series is the screen (knicked from the C550), which is as clear and bright as you could wish for. It’s also pretty big for this size of candy bar handset, although the new improved 1.3 megapixel camera is still a little behind the times. The new joystick control allows easier navigation through the occasionally dense menu systems, and the whole package comes together sweetly.

The headline grabbing news internally is that this handset sees Orange’s smallest smartphone make the leap from Windows for Mobile 2003 SE to the brand spanking new Windows Mobile 5.0. The new OS performs well, and in conjunction with the 200MHz processor, motors things along at a fair rate of knots - something that couldn’t be said for the C550. The most obvious change is in the menu system, but more subtle tunings make the whole device run more effectively - and this includes much, much better battery life and you can now pop off for the weekend without packing the charger.

On board memory is average at 64MB plus there’s a 32MB Mini SD in the box; so you’ll need to add some more if you are interested in using Windows Media Player 10 for music. And this is something you may want to consider, because sound quality isn’t bad at all - okay, it’s no iPod, but squeeze some music on here and it can get you through the walk to your local lunch spot without having to pack two gadgets. Which kind of sums this phone up: it offers power at your convenience.


It may not be an all-singing, all-dancing, all computing machine like some smartphones, but at least you can go singing and dancing with the C600 in your pocket without feeling like a total freak when it falls onto the floor at your feet.

Writing by Shaun Marin. Originally published on 9 February 2006.