Another year, another phone. This is the 3G follow up to the k750i, my current phone. Although it’s been out for a couple of months I wanted to get the phone on T-Mobile’s Web ‘n’ Walk deal and take advantage of all that 3G speed online. So after a few days how has it faired?
What do you get?
In the box you get the phone plus USB cables and also headphones that double as an aerial for the radio. The k800i uses a new memory stick format, the M2. This really grinds with me – just how many different formats do manufacturers think we need? Also it means my previous cards wouldn’t work with the phone – more expense. However the T-Mobile deal included a 256Meg card which is more than adequate.
The phone itself is heavier, taller and slightly more bulky than the k750i although it’s a great size for a 3G phone and the build quality is excellent. The back of the phone is rubberized and the only issue I have is with the lens cover – I’m sure that will break off over time. The back of the phone is also difficult to open which I guess is good in the long term – wouldn’t want it to easily slip off. The screen is excellent – more readable than the k750i, photo’s and in particular small text is clear and sharp. The software built into the phone is almost identical to the k750i except additions for RSS and Video calling. Voice quality has been excellent and on a par with the k750i which was one of the best phones I had used. Signal strength has also been excellent over the last few days.
The software on the phone also supports apps working in the background. You can be on a call or listening to music and at same time surf or get/receive e-mail. You can swap to apps running in the background via one of the keys on the front of the phone – very swish.
I was disappointed though with the software for synchronizing with Outlook. It is buggy and will only sometimes detect that the phone is connected. When this happens the launcher for file transfers also doesn’t work. Although it’s easy to connect in file mode so that transfers from the memory card can be made I recommend you download MyPhoneExplorer which has worked 100% for me. You can transfer files, sync calendars and get some other info like firmware version, battery life and temperatures. Another disappointment’s is lack of Mac support from Sony.
The big new feature of this phone though is the 3 Megapixel camera.
This is the first phone that Sony have allowed to be tagged Cybershot and it shows. Firstly there is a proper flash with the phone, not the usual small light that has come with previous models. There are also a lot of options that are normally only seen in camera’s including:
- Auto Focus
- Red Eye Reduction
- Macro mode
- White Balance
Alongside those options are various shoot modes. The default is normal mode which allows you to take a straightforward picture. BestPic takes 9 images after you’ve pressed shoot and allows you to save the best picture out of the nine. Very useful for capturing movement. There us also a panorama mode that allows you to join 3 pictures into one and finally Frames which add ‘comedy’ frames to your picture. The picture below was taken using the k800i.
The pictures are much improved on the k750i and while this is welcomed the big improvement for me is that the shutter lag has been reduced – the k750i lag was poor in comparison. Same view as above but taken with the k750i.
I’ve posted a k800i Flickr set showing the differences and also throwing in 7 Megapixel P200 pictures for comparison.
Another feature of todays phone’s is music. I’ve never been a big fan and this phone doesn’t change my mind. MP3’s can be transferred to the phone easily via Sony’s own software or using windows explorer. Once there you can setup playlists or view by artist or album. All standard fair but the playback was quite poor. Sound was tinny and the equalizer didn’t help much. It could be down to the earphones as you need to use those included with the phone as the cable acts as a radio aerial. Also there is no standard headphone connector on the phone. Sony are pushing you towards other phones if you want to use your own headphones which is annoying if you’ve already invested in a decent set. As you change track or let one track finish and another start there is an annoying burst of static, only for half a second, but enough to irritate. I would expect a firmware update to address this. Despite the mp3 annoyances I found the radio to be excellent and an improvement on the k750i.
Being my first 3G phone I was expecting big things from the internet connectivity and I wasn’t disappointed. Speed has been very impressive so far. Most sites have been usable and I’ve been impressed with the built in browser which is more usable than Opera Mini. The faster speed also means uploading photo’s is a more pleasant experience than before. App’s like ShoZu make interacting with Flickr an easy task. So far I’ve had a good connection with the 3G network which is to be expected in Glasgow. It will be interesting to see over the next few weeks how good the range and speed is depending where I am.
The phone also has RSS functionality. You can add and save your feeds and then update one, all manually or get the phone to check periodically for updates. Very easy way to keep informed and again the speed was good.
Finally there is built in support for Blogger so that it’s easy to maintain a photo blog. Once you’ve taken a pic you get the option to send it via e-mail, mms or to your blog. Once you select blog the picture is automatically resized and then you can enter a title and description. Then you publish – at this point a Blogger logo appears and the photo publishes. You then get a text with details of your new photo blog. A bookmark is automatically added to your browser. Logging in to the site you can then attach it to your current Blogger id and rename your site to something more memorable…like iandmobileblog.blogspot.com. Once it’s renamed you get a new text with the new name. The next time you publish to your site the bookmark is updated in the browser too. Very easy to use and hard to go wrong for someone who hasn’t blogged or setup a website before.
It’s a shame they didn’t add support for more blogging or photo websites but it’s still easy to blog to Flickr via their upload by e-mail feature.
E-mail works as expected supporting multiple accounts and attachments. Couple of tips – for T-Mobile users use ‘smtp.t-email.co.uk’ as your SMTP server if your provider doesn’t like people outside their network using their smtp servers. Google Mail was a bit tricky to set up. Using some info on Esato and trial and error I got it working as follows:
1) Make sure that Pop Download is enabled on your GMail account
2) (Optional) If you want to use a different address than your GMail address then add a new account in GMail options and enable it.
3) On the k800i go to Email, then Settings and then New Account
4) Enter an account name and select the type of message alert you want
5) In ‘Connect Using’ select the data account that the phone should use when connecting
6) Enter your gmail e-mail address (or address you want to use on your e-mail)
7) Connection type is POP3
8) Enter Incoming Server as pop.googlemail.com (note that pop.gmail.com is another option but this did not work for me even though I have a gmail and not a googlemail address)
9) Enter your GMail username and password
10) Enter Outgoing Server as smtp.googlemail.com (note that smtp.gmail.com is another option but this did not work for me even though I have a gmail and not a googlemail address)
11) In advanced settings enter your name and signature as per your preference
12) For Download S&R select headers only or download as per your max size limits
13) Allow Connection I left at Home Network and Copy Outgoing I left off – enter an e-mail address to copy sent e-mails to another address
14) Set Encryption for Incoming Server to SSL and Outgoing Server to SSL
15) Outgoing username and password – set to same as GMail username and password
16) Set Incoming Port to 995 and Outgoing Port to 465.
Using the above will allow you to send and receive but each time you will have to say OK to a security request. To get round this download and unzip the following file – http://members.cox.net/mynameisdavid/archive/certificates.zip. You should see three files. Copy the file ThawtePremiumServerCA.cer to the phone (drag and drop the file when connected to PC via USB or Bluetooth). Once the phone receives it it will ask you to accept it and install it. It will then be saved to your phones memory and show up under the security > certificates section on your phone.
Must quickly mention the Update Service now used by Sony Ericsson. By downloading a PC app and connecting your phone you can verify your firmware version and if it’s not up to date download and install a new one. Sounds great but there’s a few caveats:
- You need to switch off your phone, remove back cover and take out your sim card, then replace battery, connect to USB and switch on phone holding down the C key. Awkward.
- The update software needs the latest version of Macromedia Flash. Even if you download and install via Firefox or Flock this isn’t enough. You need to download and install latest version via Internet Explorer. Sigh.
- Even when that is done you may still get an error about not having latest version of Flash. If you are running Windowblinds there is a fair chance that this is the cause of the problems, not Flash. Launch the update software holding down CTRL key (disables Windowblinds for that application) or add the software to the Windowblinds exclusion list.
- There’s no way to check a website for latest firmware before doing all of the above so you could be wasting your time if there’s no new release. Check Esato for latest info.
The positives far outweigh the negatives for me and the phone gives me a lot of options on the move that I previously didn’t have. Still to early to say how battery life is – I’ve used the phone heavily for three days and I’ve got about 30% battery life remaining. I’ll be a good boy and let it fully drain then charge and I’ll report back on findings – I would expect it to be less than the k750i but hopefully more than the Nokia N80 which has very similar features but whose battery life was very poor.
The fast net access alongside a fantastic screen are the real plus points here, coupled with an ever improving camera. Certainly glad I upgraded and also that I moved to T-Mobile with it’s great data rates and while I’m late jumping on the 3G bandwagon it’s only now that phones are appearing that are close to being the size and having the functionality I want. Highly recommended.
For Mac iSync support use this plugin. Battery life seems to be around four/five days although I was using it more heavily than usual.