Product Type: Sony Ericsson mobile phones
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Improving the breed with the Sony Ericsson T630
Sony Ericsson T630
Member Name: tomshanks
Sony Ericsson T630
Advantages: Attractive design, easy to use menu system, clear screen, Bluetooth and infra-red, excellent games
Disadvantages: Limited memory, terrible camera, slightly strange phonebook, no custom message alert tone
After the sales success but critical disappointment that was the T610, Sony Ericsson were quick to bring out its successor. Launched right at the end of 2003, but staying on the market for a couple of years after this, the T630 was the phone that the T610 probably should have been in the first place. I was never very keen on the two-tone colour scheme of the T610, did not think that the terrible camera was up to much, and was concerned about the new (for Sony Ericsson) menu system and joystick navigation. I am pleased to report, however, that many of these problems were resolved with the T630, which is still a perfectly good phone today.
With the announcement of the new T650 only a few days ago, one may argue that the T630 is only now about to be replaced. However, I would argue that the amazingly successful K700i, K750i and K800i only built upon the very solid foundation which the T630 established. Even the design provided them with a hard act to follow.
Eshewing the two tone colour scheme of the T610, the T630 was available either in white or black with silver edging. I personally was keener on the white version, and picked one up from a friend of mine who no longer needed it for £50 in October 2005. At the time, this was a good price, and the phone was unlocked as a bonus, so although covered with O2 branding, I was able to slip my Orange SIM card that I had at the time into the T630 with no trouble at all.
The second of Sony Ericsson's so-called 'Dual Front' range, which are supposed to look like phones and cameras simultaneously (although the T630 could never really be mistaken for a digital camera), the T630 has a physically large screen , but still retains a small overall size. This was further improved upon with the subsequent K700i, however, which was less than 10cm high, the T630 coming in at 10.2cm tall, but by no means a large phone. It is still light and compact, and does not look dated. The build quality is also surprisingly good, and the year old example I had was just as robust as it had been when it was new. That said, the phone used to collect quite a lot of dust between the actual LCD and the external plastic screen cover, but then this was a problem with many phones of this era.
Making calls was slightly more complicated than it could have been due to the fact that the phonebook only supported a list of phone contacts as the default. This meant that, when inserting a new SIM card, the phone would automatically want to copy all the SIM contacts, since very little could be done with any contacts if they were left on the SIM card. It was not possible to edit any names on the SIM, and also individual entries could not been added to it. The only way to do this was to copy all the names necessary onto the phone, then add the entry onto the phone and copy all the entries to the SIM card, thus deleting all the contacts which were on the SIM card in the first place. This was incredibly inconvenient, but has thankfully now been remedied with newer models. The K700i does have a list of SIM contacts, and it is possible to add individual entries to the phonebook, although on no Sony Ericsson phone can both the SIM and phone entries be viewed on a unified list as on so many other models.
Actually making a call is not too stressful. A simple push of the joystick in the downwards direction and selecting the necessary entry is all that is required, although unlike many other makes, the T630 does not have separate green and red 'send' and 'hang up' keys for making and receiving calls. This is slightly confusing at first, but it is easy to get used to, and has been the basis for the majority of Sony Ericsson menu systems ever since. The reception was one of the many things which came in for criticism on the original T610, but the T630 was better, although probably not as good as other models such as the Siemens S65 and Sagem MYX-8 which I have used as direct comparisons with the T630. The call quality is also quite good, and the volume is reasonably loud. However, there is no speakerphone, something which many more modern phones possess. Sending text messages thankfully does not provide half as many problems as calling.
Writing a text, as is standard practice on many phones, can be started with a press of the joystick left from the standby screen. The phone does not exhibit anywhere near the amount of lag which used to afflict users of the old T68i and T65 when writing a message, and there was also an effort made when the T610 was released to tidy up the punctuation positioning on the 1, * and # keys. The whole experience is very pleasant, and remains to this day on a lot of other Sony Ericsson models too. The only issue seems to be that the phone has a total lack of a custom message alert tone, so the only sounds which can be played are the limited selection of default ringtones already in the phone.
The T630 supports MIDI, AMR and WAV ringtones, although MIDI is probably best. Thoughts of MP3 players and memory cards as standard even for mid-range phones like the T630 were still some way off when it was launched, but the MIDI volume is still loud enough and there is the possibility to receive as many MIDI files as the admittedly limited amout of memory will allow via infra-red and Bluetooth, as the phone has both. The volume is loud enough (later models are almost too loud), although the vibration alert is surprisingly weak. There is also a ringtone composer if one fancies some really rather poor sounding Techno tunes in addition to the standard ones...
The other Multi-media functions on the T630 are neatly worked out, but tame by today's standards. The camera only supports CIF resolution (352x288 pixels) and the photographs look rather terrible, but at least the 128x160 pixel 65,000 colour screen is an active matrix unit rather than the terrible passive matrix one fitted to the T610, which is a small consolation. The Java games also look quite good on the screen, and there is a rather addictive V-Rally 2 game installed, which is written by Sega, if I remember correctly. This is much better than just about every other mobile game that I have played (with the exception of Sonic the Hedgehog on my Panasonic VS6), and I have been through quite a few! The T630 also supports WAP, and the Internet, although rather slow at GPRS speeds, looks fine on the relatively large screen. All these functions are supported by the fact that the T630 has perfectly adequate battery life, averaging 2-3 days depending on usage.
The T630 is still a very good phone, and covers all the basics well. It has a large, legible screen, good connectivity options, and is still stylish and well-built. For the price (which is under £30 on Ebay these days), it is hard to beat, and also has the excellent Sony Ericsson pedigree behind it. Despite not offering a lot of today's users with what they need in terms of specification, the T630 is still a good choice for those wanting an inexpensive phone which is still far from a budget product. The fact that the T630 has spawned so many successful descendants goes to prove that the Japanese-Swedish conglomerate did get it right with the T610's successor.
Summary: Despite its relatively limited feature set these days, the T630 is still a good inexpensive choice
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