Surrounding the navigation pad are four buttons, which work in the standard Sony Ericsson way. Unfortunately Vodafone has disabled the “useful shortcut” option on the top right button, and changed it to be a shortcut to the Vodafone Live! online service. To be fair, you can still access the “useful shortcuts” menu, by pressing up on the navigation pad from the home screen – this gives you quick access to options like making the phone silent, alarms and turning on/off Bluetooth and IrDA.
The top left button is used to select options, as with most Sony Ericsson phones. The bottom left button is a very useful “back” button to jump back through menus – pressing and holding it will jump all the way back to the home screen. Finally, at the bottom right you’ll find the cancel button. Sony Ericsson has also squeezed in another three shortcut buttons below the navigation pad. From left to right you’ve got buttons for video calls, main menu and music/video playback.
On the left side of the phone are volume buttons, while on the right is a shortcut to the integrated 1.3megapixel camera, as well as a button to turn on the very bright LED light. With the phone closed there’s an external colour screen, which displays time, date, signal strength and battery life. Of course it will also display the caller ID, but unfortunately it won’t display a photo of the caller if you’ve set that feature up.
I’ve never been a big fan of cameras in phones, but the one in the V800 is pretty good. With a 1.3megapixel CCD you’ll get a reasonable size image if you’re looking to transfer it to your PC and do something useful with it. The camera lens can be rotated forward and backwards so that you can shoot images in front of you as well as using it for video calls. It also means that you can easily show something to the caller at the other end of a video call. A smart feature is that you don’t have to open the phone to use the camera, since you can use the small external screen as a viewfinder.
Of course a phone like this needs lots of storage space, meaning that the 7MB of integrated memory is nowhere near enough. Thankfully the V800 will accept MemoryStick Duo cards, so you can, theoretically at least, increase the memory infinitely. In the box you’ll find a 32MB MemoryStick Duo card, complete with an adapter to make it full MemoryStick size to be card reader friendly. Although there may not be an external slot for the memory card, you only have to remove the back of the phone to access it – the good news here is that you can switch cards without having to power down the phone.
The V800 uses the standard Sony Ericsson charger connector, so if like me, you have had multiple Sony Ericsson phones in the past you’ll be able to have one power supply at work, one at home, and one spare.
So what’s the phone like to use? To be honest I really like the V800 and I surprised myself with the amount of Vodafone Live! services that I made use of. Being a bit of a football fan, I regularly find myself downloading highlights of Premiership matches, and the quality of the video and audio is excellent. The Vodafone Live! services work on a monthly subscription basis, so you’ll pay a monthly fee for the football, the movie gossip and downloads and the news videos. Of course I subscribed to everything and made the most of all the video footage.