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Sony Ericsson's C903 is the latest Cyber-shot handset to hit my reviews bench. It is not long ago that I looked at the C905 Plus, a revamped version of the C905. Like the two versions of the C905 this one is a slider. But the C903 lacks some of the pizzazz of the C905 and sports a 5-megapixel camera rather than an 8-megapixel one. Hence, presumably, its slightly lower pecking-order name. Sony Ericsson styles this as a mid-range handset.
At 97mm tall, 49mm wide and 16mm thick the C903 doesn't better the C905's 104mm x 49mm x 18mm by a great deal, but in the hand it feels like a much more comfortable mobile phone. This is probably due to the weight differential - 96g for the C903 versus 136g for the C905.
That weight difference is due in part to the build materials. The C903 has a chassis made from plastic with silver metal-look highlights. The C905 is built from higher quality materials.
The slide mechanism on my review sample was very smooth, opening and closing with solid and reassuring 'clunks'. My sample was black and silver, or what Sony Ericsson calls Lacquer Black. There are also Techno White and Glamour Red options available.
This time round, Sony Ericsson has got the ergonomics of use right. On the front fascia, the navigation button is basically a large square with rounded edges, which is raised from its surroundings to make it easier to hit accurately. The softkey buttons are very small but are again raised to aid location. The larger Call and End keys are raised too. The only flush buttons on the front fascia are the Activity Menu and Clear keys. These sit right at the bottom of the casing and are large enough to hit accurately despite their low-profile.
Inside the slide, the numberpad is flat but textured so that the centre of each number is slightly domed. This helps you feel your way round and hit keys accurately.
There is a quick release tab for the backplate on the bottom of the casing, but apart from that all the buttons are on the right hand side of the phone. These comprise a volume rocker that doubles for zooming when you are using the camera, the camera button itself, and a pair of buttons for flicking between stills and video shooting modes and image viewing mode.
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