Product Type: Sony Ericsson mobile phones
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As big as a camera. Takes pictures like a camera. But it's a phone.
Sony Ericsson C905
Member Name: CrazyJamie
Sony Ericsson C905
Date: 31/03/09, updated on 31/03/09 (456 review reads)
Advantages: Unbeatable camera, smooth operating system, good range of features
Disadvantages: Expensive, niggles stop it from being a world beater
The Sony Ericsson C905 is the latest in the long line of Cybershot phones, fabled for their apparently ability to pack in more technology to their cameras than any other make of phone. At the time of writing (31st March 2008) it is an absolutely top end phone that will only get for free on high tariffs, and will cost you an arm and a leg if you decide to opt for it on Pay As You Go. But for a phone that promises so much and costs so much more, is it worth it?
WHY I DECIDED TO GET ONE
My 18 month contract with Orange recently expired, and as part of my retention deal I was determined to get a new top end phone. I was (and still am) incredibly happy with my Samsung G600, but was overcome by my masculine urge to own the latest gadgetry, so was always looking above and beyond for the next phone. I was actually given a reasonable choice of top end phones to choose from, including the LG Renoir and Samsung Pixon, both of which are top of the range touch screen phones locking horns with the iPhone. After much deliberation (and I really mean much deliberation; I'm a Libra and am naturally indecisive with things like this anyway without the fantastic range of options), I decided to give touch screen technology a miss and go for a phone that promised to do the basics very well, but with some extra special frills on the side.
The first thing you are likely to notice about the C905 is its size. It is big and heavy for a mobile phone, with dimensions of 19 x 49 x 104 mm and weighing 136 grams. 'But how big and heavy is that really?' I hear you cry (or at least you thought it, you might not have actually shouted it at the screen). Well in real terms the C905 is bigger than your average phone. It's probably closer to the size and weight of a digital camera than a phone. For some that may simply be too big, and it did take me some getting used to. It just can't be avoided that this phone is a bit chunkier and heavier than you would expect from a phone in this day and age.
In terms of looks though, it's absolutely fine. The design is sleek, and the slider (for this is a slider phone, giving it an automatic edge of cool), works well and feels solid. Granted, people won't be stopping you in the street asking what that magnificent piece of technology is that you're holding (like the iPhone), but the design is decent and certainly cannot be criticised from an aesthetic perspective.
The one downside to the design that I noted is that the phone does feel a little fragile when it is slid out. By that I mean that the narrower section on top felt almost like it could snap off accidentally. Obviously I haven't put this theory to the test, but it does leave this phone feeling a little vulnerable considering how big and sturdy it should be. Much like a tank made out of cardboard, it looks impressive but you can't help but feel that it would crumble if it got roughed up in the heat of battle.
LAYOUT AND DESIGN
Functionally little has changed from the previous phones in this series, which is no bad thing. The standard menu is present and correct, and the six buttons above the keypad (with a main guide button in the middle) allow easy navigation around most of the phone's features. There are a lot of features here and some complicated settings to fiddle with if you feel like delving in deep, but for most the layout will work fine after a little practice.
The operating system itself is remarkably efficient considering how much is here, and happily copes with doing nearly all features with little slowdown. Certainly nothing to get hung up about, anyway. The larger applications do take time to load, I didn't feel like any of these loading times spoiled the functionality of the phone.
One word of warning here though- Sony Ericsson phones do seem to be more complicated and less intuitive than Nokia or Samsung phones. Not to the point where if you've never used a SE you won't ever get it, but you will need practice. It's like taking the step up from Duplo blocks to Lego- you know functionally it works the same and you'll get it before long, it's just more intricate and you'll need practice. So stick with it, because as daunting as it may be it is not user unfriendly, and you'll get it eventually. For Sony Ericsson veterans there will be no problems here, though.
THE BASICS- TEXTING AND CALLING
The mainstay of any phone, and one that it has to get spot on to be taken seriously. So does it get these things spot on. Pretty much. The reason why that is a 'pretty much' and not a resounding 'YES!' is because there are a few niggles.
The calling side of things is fine. The phone is efficient, allowing you to set up easily accessible lists of your favourite contacts, and offering shortcuts through to your most recently dialled number etc. Just like any phone nowadays should. The problem is that now and again the sound dips in and out on my speaker. The loudspeaker doesn't seem to suffer from this problem, but when loudspeaker is off (i.e. most of the time- I don't want the world to hear the conversation) the side can just dip out for a few seconds. This may just be my phone, but irrespective it is irritating.
In terms of texting, once again all the usual options are present and correct. The keypad is accessible and very easy to text with, as you would expect from a phone this size, so no problems there. However, the one surprise for me was that at the bottom of every text you have a new menu allowing you to add pictures, sounds etc with a click. This may seem interesting at first, but honestly I didn't see the point. If I want to add a picture I'll send a picture message. If I want to send a sound I'll Bluetooth it. But for a standard text I just want a normal straightforward texting service that is basic and functional. What the C905 does is equivalent to wrapping up a new pair of socks in five layers of expensive wrapping. In other words, there is no need for the extra bells and whistles. I just want to text. Again, this is a minor irritation, but one that I haven't experienced before.
Now we're talking. The phone is in the 'Cybershot' range, and boasts an 8.1 megapixel camera. That's a lot of megapixels, more than any other phone at the moment in fact. So it's going to be good, right? Actually, no it isn't. It is better than good. It is exceptional. You see, we all know that the problem with using your phone as a camera is that the system and lenses that phones use are naff, which results in pictures taking three seconds to take after you've pressed the button, and looking like someone has smudged them if anyone so much as moves a muscle in those three seconds.
The C905 has banished these issues forever. Quite simply, the phone is as big as a digital camera, and it acts just like one when in camera mode. Photos are taken instantly and the lense is of sufficient quality that you have to be taking a picture of someone moving pretty damn fast for it to blur significantly. It has loads of little extras like facial recognition (to focus on people's faces, which is what you want unless you have ugly friends), and lots of tweaks for those more into their photography than they care to admit in public.
Really, I cannot overstate this enough. It is a fantastic camera, and one that can easily replace your digital camera unless you are an absolute camera enthusiast. It is that good. Clear, detailed pictures that can actually be taken without getting your family to pose like musical statues for three seconds while the picture takes. All round top class.
THE EXTRA FEATURES
Of course the C905 has an awful lot more going for it than the camera, which is the main event but doesn't tell the whole story. It has a functional music player, can access a catalogue of games online, has GPS tracking, and can surf the web.
The performances of these extra features varies, but on the whole they are welcome. The web browser benefits from some snazzy new technology that makes it very fast indeed, and you can also connect to wireless networks via Wi-Fi if you want to do it all for free. Very handy. The GPS tracking is admittedly quite poor and takes ages to find you, but is perhaps a sign of things to come in mobile phones (and honestly, who is going to use their phone as a Tom Tom? Just get a Tom Tom). The games available are fine, but they're just mobile phone games at the end of the day and won't replace your Nintendo DS. On the whole there is a lot here, and far too much to go into detail about. It doesn't have endless features like the HTC Touch HD or LG Renoir, which offer the equivalent of a laptop computer in a tiny package, but it is certainly more than any average person needs in their phone, and will keep techies suitable engaged.
THE BATTERY LIFE
So considering all the things that it can do, the C905 must have a rubbish battery life, right? Wrong. I was expecting the worst, but the C905 has hands down the best battery life of any phone I have ever owned. In standby mode with a few texts and short calls a day it can easily last four or five days. Even playing with it non stop for the first days that I had it (I'm a man and don't need instructions, so there was a lot of trial and error) I still only had to charge it every other day. The battery life really is outstanding, and certainly won't let you down.
The C905 is without a doubt a top end phone packed with technology, not least the best camera ever seen in a phone. But I just can't help but feel that Sony cut some corners in some areas, and got needlessly carried away in others. The phone feels a little more vulnerable than it should, and functionally I think it could be a little more streamlined an easy to use. Most of my complaints are only niggles, but they are niggles that haven't existed with past phones I have owned, and just because it packs enough technology to run a small country, I don't think the C905 should be exempt from having to get the basics absolutely spot on. Which is why I'm knocking a star off. This is a very impressive phone that will knock your socks off (figuratively speaking, sock removal is not an actual feature of the phone) in certain areas, but it just as too many niggles to be heralded as the second coming of mobile phones.
Summary: A fantastic phone, but there is room for improvement.
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