I’ve already reviewed three 8-megapixel cameraphones, Samsung’s Pixon and i8510 and LG’s Renoir. They’ve all done very well, gaining coveted Recommended awards. These handsets all scored highly not just for their camera capabilities but also because of their general, all round, strong design and features. These factors give Sony Ericsson’s 8-megapixel C905 a lot to live up to.
In design terms I have to say this phone leaves me a bit cold. The C905 is a slider, but not a very tidy one. It weighs a tonne. OK, it weighs 136g. Compared to the Pixon (122g), i8510 (136g), and Renoir (110g) it isn’t actually overweight, though. Where the C905 loses out is its girth which makes this handset feel awkward and unwieldy without offering the screen area to justify this.
It is a massive 18mm thick, 49mm wide and a rather tall 104mm with the slide closed. Open the slide (whose mechanism is very smooth indeed) and the phone grows to about 135mm. This makes the C905 a lot of phone for the hand. Compare again those other 8-megapixellers. Pixon: 13.8mm thick, 54.6mm wide, 107.9mm tall. Renoir: 13.95mm x 55.9mm x 107.8mm. And i8510: 17.2mm x 53.9mm x 106.5mm.
There are measurement differences on all fronts and those other handsets are all taller than the C905’s slide-down height, but the larger touchscreens found on the Pixon and Renoir makes their larger size feel legitimate. The i8510’s 2.8in screen even knocks the 2.4in one here into touch, though both share 240 x 320 pixels.
Sony Ericsson has made good use of the slide space where the number pad is concerned. This is large and its backlit flat keys are very easy to use at speed. Under the screen things are also pretty neat, though the button arrangement itself is unusually ugly for Sony Ericsson.
Two columns of three buttons flank the D-pad. On the left, softmenu and Call buttons top the Activity Menu button which brings up tabbed access to reminders, running apps, shortcuts and Internet services. On the right, softmenu and End buttons top the Clear key. The D-pad incorporates four camera controls. These give access to flash/redeye; auto/macro/face detection/infinite focus; exposure settings; and the timer.
They are blue backlit when the camera is in use, as are the shortcut buttons, D-pad Centre button and side-mounted shoot button. Two further buttons above the screen are also backlit blue when in camera mode. One cycles through various shooting modes, the other through scene modes.
These buttons double up as gaming keys, incidentally, though none of the three provided games seemed to use them. These are a chess game, a tennis game and a racing game. A motion sensor does its usual job of flicking the screen into landscape mode but it didn’t seem to want to do so with the games, though it is used in the racing game to good effect for car control.
I may as well stick with the camera having mentioned it. A very well made and solid lens cover slides away and activates the camera’s software. The Xenon flash is welcome and there’s up to 16x digital zoom if you want to degrade your photos that far. There is image stabilisation, too, and you can blog images from the handset.
Sony Ericsson’s BestPic multishooting system is here, and you can geotag images using the built in GPS (more on this later).
The camera was very easy to use thanks to all those shortcut buttons. Image quality was reasonable, though I don’t think it is of the highest standard we can expect from an 8-megapixel phone or, indeed, from Sony Ericsson.
The coloured dish, photographed without flash and under normal household lights is a little lacking in vibrancy. Outdoors the chair is reasonable though the white is not as uniform as I’d have expected. The macro mode left a little to be desired too. The ”Sempervivum” plants are no more than 3cm across and the macro mode focus is not that great. I also noticed some shutter lag during testing which was an annoyance, but to counter that the autofocus system seemed speedy.
This is a 3G handset with quad-band GSM and HSDPA. A front-facing camera does for two-way video calls for those that want this and data downloading was unproblematic. Wi-Fi is also built-in so you can make data connections using this.
I mentioned the GPS earlier. There are several ways to use this apart from geotagging photos. Google Maps is incorporated and there’s a trial copy of the Wayfinder navigation tools for turn-by-turn routing. A full copy of an app called NearMe is also here. This provides info on entertainment venues and businesses that are, well, near your current location.
This is quite a range of GPS related software to get for starters, but I found the GPS itself to be less than wonderful. It was iffy in built up areas and I’ve certainly seen and used better.
Of course the C905 plays music and there is 160MB of built-in memory supplemented by a 2GB Memory Stick Micro card. Sony Ericsson has not yet abandoned its ridiculous chunky headset connector which yet again is side-mounted adding an extra 15mm to your pocket width requirement. In this case, the in-ear ‘phones are a one-piece affair so you can’t substitute your favourites for those supplied. The mains power adaptor has a through-port for the headset.
One real plus with this handset is battery life. Sony Ericsson quotes up to nine hours of talk and 380 hours on standby for this handset. I got an impressive 12 hours of non-stop music from a full battery charge. Admittedly, I got nearly 13 hours from the W902, but that is a Walkman branded handset and you’d expect more from it. In general use a couple of days between charges is not out of the question, especially as I found the GPS rather lacklustre and would only be likely to thrash the gas guzzling Wi-Fi.
There is plenty of additional software here. Bluetooth remote control, sound recorder, mobile email and IM, RSS reader, TV-out (no cables provided), FM radio, five alarms, calendar, task manager, notes taker, timer, stopwatch, calculator, code memo, TrackID, VideoDJ, PhotoDJ and MusicDJ, to list some of the major ones.
Sadly, no recommended award for the C905 as the camera isn’t really as good as the other 8-megapixel handsets I’ve seen, and the phone is a bit on the clunky side to use.
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