The Siemens SK65, which was launched at the London Stock Exchange, featured a striking “cross-to-type” design branded as the “x2type keyboard”.
The 37-key qwerty keyboard could be accessed by twisting the top of the phone by 90 degrees and it also featured a standard keypad for phone use when closed. It continued Siemens’ push into higher-margin mid-tier phones, particularly for business users.
Siemens described the black and silver metallic design as having a “symmetric silhouette and light gradient on the keys, which were placed in concentric circles, emphasizing the most surprising design aspect of the handset: the rotating keyboard at the heart of the product.”
The German company had partnered with BlackBerry to offer the “BlackBerry Built-In” technology making it the first mobile phone to offer the full functions of Research in Motion’s (RIM’s) BlackBerry software. This saw the BlackBerry software stack being ported to the SK65, delivering RIM’s Java environment, e-mail, personal information manager (except for the Tasks and Memopad components) and browser. The Nokia 6800
also had BlackBerry Built-In support, but only the e-mail component, not the full BlackBerry suite.
The SK65 was designed to attract BlackBerry users who also carried a mobile phone and wanted to consolidate into a single device. Sadly, the reality ended up being very different as RIM never really delivered against the promise of the platform which saw Siemens struggled to make this a credible device for business users.
One shortcoming of the cross-to-type qwerty keyboard was that the “t” and “y” keys were too close to the main chassis making typing difficult. It also lacked an offline mode which meant it could not be used legally on an aircraft.
Original design drawings of Siemens SK65:
Source: Siemens AG