Typing is surprisingly swift. The stepped arrangement makes it really easy to pick out each row of keys, while each individual key is more than wide enough to easily tell apart. The action of one or two of the keys – mostly notably ‘0’ – is a bit mushy but overall they provide a decent level of feedback. Obviously typing speed is limited by the layout, and can’t match what you’d get on a full qwerty arrangement but so far as T9 keypads go, it’s great.
The Sony Ericsson Cedar runs a proprietary OS but it’s very easy to get to grips with. On the homescreen you’ve got the usual arrangement of notifications along the top, a large space in the middle that can be filled with a choice of five widgets (Facebook, Twitter, Notes, Clock, Myspace) and shortcuts along the bottom. The two shortcuts either side of the central main menu link correspond with the soft keys that flank the phone’s central D-pad. These change function depending on what application you’re using and can be customised to link to whatever you like from the homepage.
The other physical controls are from left to right and top to bottom call and call end/power buttons, and app launcher and backspace buttons. Like the two top soft-keys the D-pad can have each direction assigned a shortcut so that a single tap from the homepage gets you to your favourite features.
Open the main menu and it’s arranged as a simple grid with links to playnow, internet, entertainment, camera, messaging, media player, alarms, contacts, calendar, calls, organiser and settings. You can change the layout to be a rotating carousel or a list of icons but we don’t know why you’d want to. Click through to any of these and you’re presented with simple lists of items. The whole lot is easy to work out, neatly presented and is nice and speedy.
Looking through those features, PlayNow gets you access to the very limited number of widgets and games available for the platform – the phone does have a couple of vaguely amusing games but you’ll certainly want to invest in a dedicated gadget if you really want gaming on the move.
The web browser supports full HTML pages, rather than just mobile versions but thanks to the small screen it can take a while to scroll around and find what you’re looking for. Unsurprisingly flash videos don’t work, and some more challenging websites can cause it to come a cropper. For most emergency checking of the weather, train times, football score, it’ll get you by, though.