While this is a pretty bad start, these complaints can be aimed at any version of S60 that we’ve used and Sony Ericsson has at least made a decent effort with its implementation. Instead of the single fixed desktop, as preferred by many Nokia phones that use S60, this phone has five that you can navigate between by sliding your finger across the screen or by pressing the links/tabs that run across the top. The middle, and default, tab is mostly blank except for quick launch buttons for the music player, dialler, multimedia interface, messages folder, and search function that run along the bottom. Swipe left and you get a list of web links, swipe left again and there’s a list of favourite contacts. Moving right and there’s a quick picture viewer that, thankfully, supports finger scrolling, while the far right tab is home to shortcuts for your favourite apps. All told this combination of desktops makes it relatively quick and easy to get where you need with minimum fuss.
Another noteworthy addition SE has made is the multimedia interface. While it doesn’t quite have the same level of functionality as the PS3’s crossbar interface, which it is trying to imitate, it does make browsing through you media files quick and easy and looks quite pretty. Media playback is also better than many though there’s no support for DivX videos or music formats more exotic than MP3, WMA, and AAC. Videos up to 640 x 480 are supported in MPEG4 format, though, and they look great.
Speed is another thing this phone isn’t left wanting for. General navigation is snappy while more intensive tasks like browsing the web cause few problems. It’s certainly not on the level of top smartphones like the iPhone 3GS or Blackberry Bold 9700 but you should seldom find yourself hanging around. These things said, we did actually have a lot of problems when we first got the handset with it regularly crashing, slowing down, and just generally being unusable. So much so that I absolutely slated it in my original video review. However, within a few days these problems seemed to disappear and it’s been fine for several weeks now. As such we had to reshoot the video – ah the joy.
So speed isn’t a problem but functionality certainly is. The web browser, while fast and capable of showing full pages accurately, isn’t all that slick and email support is very basic with no support for push, scheduled retrieval or html display. There are few preinstalled applications either and no integrated app store. You can, however, download apps through the PlayNow portal and basics like Facebook (which is quite a decent little app) are free.
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