Talking of mobile data, the Vario III is fully HSDPA compliant, so you’ll be getting lightning fast download speeds for web pages and email – if you get as much email as I do, having a high-speed download facility will make life on the move far easier. In fact, having been using the HTC Touch as my main phone lately, I can confirm that a big email download over GPRS can be mind numbingly slow, even if you cap each message at 2KB.
The HSDPA/3G support also means that the Vario III is a great device for video calling, much like its predecessor. As always, I decided to call Benny to test the video calling, which inevitably meant that I had to look at his face! This was a cross network video call, since Benny is on O2 and equipped with a Sony Ericsson K800i. Benny commented that the image quality being sent from the Vario III was excellent – so much so that he was able to clearly read car number plates when I pointed the device towards them. This would indicate that the front facing 640 x 480 camera in the Vario III is a cut above the norm.
While I’m on the subject of cameras, there’s a 3-megapixel camera mounted at the rear of the device. The original TyTN or Vario II only had a 2-megapixel camera, so this should be a significant improvement, but in reality it didn’t really appear to be. The camera on the old device was supported by a self portrait mirror, a flash and a macro switch – the camera in the Vario III has none of those things. How much of an issue that is, depends on how important your camera phone is to you. Personally, I never take photos of myself, so I don’t need the mirror, flashes in camera phones are invariably poor, so I never use them and although the macro switch in the SPV 3100 produced impressive results, the only time I ever used it was to take the test shot for the review!
Unfortunately, like the camera in the old TyTN, the Vario III snapper has real problems metering scenes with dramatic contrast changes. As you can see in the pictures on this page, the shot of my car in the bright sunlight has completely thrown the Vario III’s metering. The area of the bodywork that’s reflecting the sun is completely whited out, while the colour of the car itself is totally off. The second picture of the car in the shade, shows that the camera can get the colour pretty much perfect, but even here, the top of the frame is completely overexposed.
If camera quality is paramount to you when purchasing a smartphone, then the images produced by the Vario III may be a disappointment. I would however, be very surprised if anyone considering a device like this would have the camera as a key consideration. Especially considering that the Vario III does just about everything else incredibly well.