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Ok so I already own a W800i walkman phone with all the bells and whistles I could ask for, so why on earth would I even think of buying a basic, bottom of the range mobile. Well my W800i is locked to network and I rather fancied taking advantage of Vodafone's free weekend calls offer. So rather than buying a fancy new phone I decided something basic would do the trick and I picked up this, the Sony Ericsson J220i in Woolworths for a paltry £23.99. No as far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter that I can't play my music on it, or take photos, what else could I expect. This is, first and foremost, a phone.
And what a sweet little phone it is. Now from what I can tell there are two versions, your bog standard (and very boring) grey fascia (that's a cover to you and me) and then there's the version I have in a very girly power pink. Size wise, it fits comfortably in my pocket being about two thirds the size of the old faithful Nokia 3310 and smaller even than my fancy W800i, as for weight it's barely noticeable. Sony seem to have decided that this is a phone for those of us that like our accessories to match our moods, and have allowed us to change the fascias, not that I've seen many replacements available. Considering the fact that the faux metallic keypad and overall styling gives the J220i the look and feel of a Nokia, this is a phone that I'm not ashamed to take out of my pocket. The screen is fairly large and displays numbers and texts clearly, but the resolution is poor, so picture messages are not very clear.
While the phone feels like the more familiar Nokia, it's not quite as intuitive to use. It took me a while to get used to the navigation style and even after a week I was still making the occasional error. This especially surprised me, considering that I've been using a Sony Ericsson for the past year. Once navigation difficulties are over come, it does become almost second nature to make calls and write texts. Note the almost, I still make the occasional error and find myself texting when I meant to call.
Making a call is, of course, fairly simple with the standard idea that you type the required number in, adding contacts from missed/received calls is also fairly easy to master, but the default volume for making calls is pretty low. Of course this is rectifiable, but to do so is a task and a half. Once the volume is adjusted, call quality is perfectly adequate with no evidence of echoing, and reception seems to be, in the main, fine. There are a few occasions when I completely lose reception, but this is down to network rather than the phone itself.
For me the second most important function of a mobile phone is the texting and this phone is again adequate for the job. The T9 dictionary is set to on by default and seems to be quite well stocked with "text-speak". Adding new words to the dictionary is simple enough, as is scrolling through suggested words. My main bug bear with texting is that the keypad feels unresponsive and I often find that letters haven't appeared on the screen when I'm sure I'd pressed the key. It also takes quite a bit of effort to press the keys, as they are on the squidgey side. One nice little extra with the texting side of the phone is the ability to add "Smilies", you know those little smiling, sad and winking faces. I did manage to impress the other half when I sent him a text with a few of them in it.
As this is a basic phone there is very little that can be down to customize it, with no camera I can only get new themes (wallpaper/screen savers) by downloading them off the Sony Ericsson website. There are probably other places to download them but I'm tight and won't pay for them. Although picture messages are compatible with the phone, the actual memory is no where nearly large enough to allow the storage of anything but the very lowest quality of picture. After having used the W800i I was very disappointed at the quality of the ringtones. The ones that are supplied on the phone are, in a word, naff. And again the lack of storage and technological restraints mean that I can only download polyphonic tones. I find this annoying, but still have to ask myself what exactly I expected for my money.
As you can imagine there are very few functions on the phone. It is WAP enabled, so basic internet sites can be accessed. It does not, however, seem to have the ability to display pictures. There are also a couple of games, which have very low resolution graphics, but do while away a few minutes now and again. What I do miss on this phone is the ability to write and store notes, although there is a to-do task function, this is limited and I would like to be able to write the little notes to myself. I also miss having Bluetooth, but I hardly expected this to be available on such a cheap phone.
Ok, so I've covered making calls, writing texts and the very few other available functions, what else do I need to tell you about. Well I suppose there's the battery, how long it takes to charge and how long it lasts for. Now as with most mobiles, the battery came part charged, but did need to be connected to the power socket for 2 hours before the first use to help condition it. After the initial charge the battery lasted for two days of fairly heavy usage before it died completely. Oh, and when the battery is about to go flat, the phone makes the most annoying noise possible. Subsequent charges have taken anywhere between one and two hours, but I must admit I do usually leave it to charge overnight, which doesn't seem to have damaged the battery at all. I normally need to charge the phone every two to three days, and I am a pretty heavy user (especially at weekends). One factor about the battery that I find a little annoying, is that it's almost impossible to tell exactly how much charge there is left. The indicator is a little inaccurate, and I am used to the W800i, that will tell me exactly what percent charge there is left. But for every down side there is an up, and what I was really pleased with is that the charger is identical to the one that came with my W800i, which means that I only need to use one wall socket and have a replacement if (when) one of the chargers breaks.
The last thing I really need to tell you about is how durable I feel the phone is and to be honest I'm not exactly sure. While it feels durable enough, I can see the case getting scratched in the near future, and I really don't plan on throwing the phone across the room, just so I can report on whether it survives the collision. The screen looks as if it may get scratched, but only if it's stuffed into a bag or pocket full of keys.
This is a nice, basic, little phone that is available for a very good price. If you are looking for a phone simply so that you can make and receive calls and texts, then this is the one for you. I would also say that this is the phone to give a pre-teen, it's so cheap that it doesn't really matter if they damage it, and the replaceable fascias mean that they can possibly make the phone their own. If, however, you're after a phone with all the bells and whistles then this is most definitely not for you. So there you have it, I've not bothered going into any of the technical specifications (you can find them on the Sony Ericsson website) but hopefully I've told you enough for you to know that I quite like this little phone, it does what I wanted it to, and while it's available at the silly price it is now I can put my hand on my heart and state that it's easily more than worth the £23.99 at Woolworths and therefore rates at a healthy four stars out of five.