Tuesday, 9 August 2005

Sony Ericsson K608i (3 Australia)

On Saturday I got the brand new Sony Ericsson K608i mobile phone from 3 Australia. Here is my review, written and sent from said phone. (Edit: Combined parts 1 and 2)
It's a very compact candy bar style phone, a little thicker than my previous NEC e313, but much smaller overall. The buttons are slightly raised and work okay even though they are small. The blue backlighting is very nice. Unfortunately I find the volume buttons on the side too small to press. The decision to go with a horizontal layout with dedicated shutter button works really well. 3 have customized the phone, putting access to the Planet 3 online service on both the side button and the home screen, I feel this is unnecessary duplication.
This is the most feature-rich phone I've ever used, it has everything in the box. The camera is fine, it has an FM radio which works perfectly as long as you carry the handsfree, and it plays most content - music, video, Java games. Crucially for 3 users it accepts all of this content over e-mail. The only downside is that it is not expandable - 33MB available which is plenty for online content but not to use as a portable media player.
User interface
The phone's interface is very friendly, and the joystick is very nice to use. It is a bit cramped compared to what I'm used to, mainly due to the use of the bigger font size. The bigger font does have the benefit of making things easier to read. In fact this is the first phone I've been able to use in all lighting conditions, including direct sunlight. The screen will wash out in such light but maintains readability. As far as text entry, which is very important, it offers T9 with a customisable dictionary. This is fast even when typing long emails with symbols. The phone offers a horizontal mode in the file manager, media player and camera. Special mention of the horizontal aka full screen media player which makes viewing video a pleasure.
Firstly if you live in a marginal reception area this is not the phone for you. It tends to prefer to roam sooner than my old phone did, and there doesn't seem to be a quick way to switch back nor disable roaming. (There also seems to a limitation to the length of e-mails you can type.) Bluetooth support is excellent, connecting with my Mac. The file transfers are great, as is Sony's unique built-in remote control. The USB support isn't for the Mac and may crash your computer, though there is no real reason to plug it in since it doesn't support charging. I did also manage to crash the phone a couple of times via Bluetooth.
More thoughts
The shortcuts features are very nice, the alarm block works and the themes are the best I've seen on a phone. (Note that K750 themes are compatible with this phone.) Also Sony provides the best Java support, including optional APIs and only requiring JAR files making adding games a breeze. My midlets that I wrote for the Nokia 3530 still work which is impressive. Sony also provides tools on their developer portal for the Mac, so I plan to start developing for my phone again, something I couldn't do for the NEC.
This is an excellent phone and I can recommend getting it. Especially if you are a fan of candy bar phones. No real limitations except for the lack of expandable memory.