Product Type: Sony Ericsson mobile phones
Newest Review: ... years of ownership the only issues i have uncovered are minor software related issues and a failure of the directional pad - apart from tha... more
Lost in the K-hole with the Sony Ericsson K700i
Sony Ericsson K700i
Member Name: tomshanks
Sony Ericsson K700i
Advantages: Small and light, easy to use, still competitive after all these years, excellent build quality
Disadvantages: Potential joystick problems, headphone connector not reliable, data cable not in sales package
Launched in 2004, the K700i was eagerly anticipated at its launch as the first of the Sony Ericsson K-series. It featured a highly revised menu system over previous Sony Ericsson models, a better camera, a better screen and several other firsts for the company. It went on to be a best-seller, and is still competitive today. So competitive, in fact, that when I was looking for the best possible phone to buy for a friend for the princely sum of 40 GBP, there was little competition.
This was, in fact, my second K700i, and was in slightly worse condition than the first one. When new, the K700i used to have a flap over the charger/connector port at the bottom of the phone, and this had gone by the time I got the second one. Needless to say, the phone had been charged quite a few times and someone had been using the built-in FM radio and MP3 player quite a lot. Still, it held together fine, and I suppose that this testament to the build quality for which Sony Ericsson is rather famous. The phone itself has always been an attractive device, being smaller than the previous T610 and T630, and seemingly being principally made of brushed aluminium. It was one of the early 'dual front' devices which was produced by the company, so it does look a little like a camera from the back, and indeed comes with its own dedicated shutter button. But what is the K700i like as an actual device for making and receiving calls and for sending and receiving text messages?
The K700i seems to have a fairly good aptitude for keeping a decent signal in comparison with other phones, despite its relatively small size. In addition to this, the battery level and signal strength are always displayed at the top of the screen, so finding a good place from which to send text messages is not the guessing game that it can be on other phones in an area with poor signal. Making calls is very straightforward once one understands that on a Sony Ericsson, there are no dedicated 'send' or 'hang up' buttons for calling. There is also a speakerphone (which at the time was a first for the company), and this works quite well too. Sending and receiving messages presents no real problems, apart from the fact that some people with poor eyesight may find the text a little bit difficult to read. It is also possible to copy messages to and from the SIM card, which is an option I have only seen on a small handful of phones. Admittedly, however, the phone has no option for displaying its memory status with regards to how many text messages are on the SIM card or phone, until either becomes more than 90% full.
But there is more to the K700i than just being a phone. The phonebook alone is a vast improvement over previous Sony Ericsson phones. Here, at last, it was possible to have the SIM card entries as the default ones, and to add individual entires to the SIM card, something which was not possible on previous models. There is also a photo phonebook option, which makes the pictures look superb on the 176x220 pixel 65,000 colour screen, which was market-leading at the time when the phone was new. The Siemens S65 and Nokia 6230. which were its main rivals, had quite poor displays in comparison, and only the Motorola V600 and later Samsung D500 could match this. Admittedly, even the more modern Sony Ericsson phones with this resolution have tidied the picture up somewhat, but it still looks fine today, and the white backlight for the keypad is a very smart addition.
The built-in MP3 player and FM radio, whilst falling short of the standard set by the later Walkman phones and the natural successor to the K700i, the K750i, are easy enough to use, and both can be played through the loudspeaker. There is even an option to activate the Sony proprietry 'Megabass'! With 41MB of on-board memory, the K700i shames many more modern models, including many of the Walkman series, but it is worth pointing out that once this is gone, there is no way of expanding it. However, if you are not intent on using a lot of MP3s or videos, this should be adequate for the casual user. The FM radio works well, but needs the handsfree kit to be plugged in to activate it, and this is something of a design flaw in itself: the connector will very often loosen itself, and this was only corrected when Sony Ericsson decided to entirely change their connectors for the next generation of phones.
The phone also has both Bluetooth and infra-red (a tradition introduced with the T68, and still continued to this day on many models), and these ensure that it is compatible with pretty much everything else on the market. The Bluetooth is version 1.2, however, so it is not wise to expect amazing file transfer speeds, but for headsets and the odd picture it is fine. What a shame that there was no data cable in the sales package, and additionally, the only way to perform the now very common procedure of updating the firmware via data cable was to buy the very expensive Sony Ericsson desk stand, which was probably 30 GBP on its own. Thankfully, things have changed since then.
The phone can use MP3s as ringtones, although sadly users would have to wait for the K750i before they were able to have a custom text message alert tone, rather than simply picking one from the predefined selection, something which is still an issue with Samsung models to this day. The K700i also has Java, and Sega's Super Real Tennis is pre-installed on the phone, which is nice but not very easy to play.
The phone can also take video, which incidentally comes out at the same resolution as the much more modern K800i (QCIF), but these normally look terrible. The camera is a standard VGA unit, but it does have a flash and also a mode whereby the 640x480 pixel resolution picture can be stretched to One Megapixel. This was probably to make up for the lack of a 1.3 Megapixel camera as featured on the contemporary Siemens S65, and it works reasonably effectively, given that the S65 never had that good a camera in the first place!
The K700i seems to be fairly well-built and reliable too, although the standard problem which has afflicted Sony Ericsson phones in the past, that of the joystick suddenly freezing up and becoming ineffective, was not uncommon on these. Neither of the ones which I have had, both of which were more than a year old, were that bad, however.
After almost three years, the K700i still stands the test of time. If this was sold for 50 GBP on Pay As You Go, Sony Ericsson would still be selling them at the same rate as they did when they were popular on contract. Even the mid-range Pay As You Go replacement for this, the K510i, is nowhere as good. There are some slight issues with the joystick and data cable, but neither of these can cloud over the fact that the phone still does what the majority of people need extremely well. It also does this with a touch of class which only Sony Ericsson seem to be able to bring to the market. If you are looking for a sub 50 GBP handset, then this is probably the best one that can be got for the money. Unless you manage to get a very cheap K750i, of course!
Joseph Lloyd (tomshanks)
Summary: Still excellent today, the K700i must have seemed even more amazing upon its release in 2004
|Ease of use:|
|Variety of features:|