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Sony Ericsson K700i

Posted August 17, 2004 by Howard Paw

It all started with the T68, Ericsson made a remarkable comeback as a mobile phone powerhouse with the release of their first color phone. Not long after, Ericsson formed a partnership with Sony and released an upgraded T68 called the T68i. The T68i then paved the way for Sony Ericsson to release the highly successful T610/T616 which in turn evolved into the T630 and Z600. With a solid line up of phones under their belt, Sony Ericsson has recently released what could be their best candy bar phone to date, the K700i.

The K700i sports a lot of improvements, most notably more internal memory: gone are the days of having to struggle with 2 MB. The K700i is loaded with 41MB, so you can take pictures and record videos to your heart's content. The screen is also a big improvement, unlike previous models, the screen is now brighter and is viewable even under direct sunlight. The overall performance of the phone has been improved as well. The button press lag that plagued the T series is now almost completely gone and the K700i doesn't feel sluggish.

Form Factor

The svelte K700i has a silver casing, accented by the color black on the sides, which gives it a classy, professional look. The front of the unit has similarities to its predecessors, the T610 and T630, with the main difference being that the screen and keypads are much larger on the K700i while the position of the joystick and menu/side buttons remains unchanged. The K700i is slightly thicker than the T630, but length and width remains the same. The back of the unit looks more like a camera than a phone. In fact, it bears a resemblance to Sony's Cybershot U series consumer digital cameras.

Sony Ericsson K700i
back of K700i

 

Themes/Wallpapers: Another first for Sony Ericsson that's available on the K700i is the introduction of themes with animated wallpapers. The phone comes pre-installed with 4 themes that are cool animated wallpapers featuring the home page of this handset.

Ring Tones: In addition to the old midi ring tones, the K700i is capable of using any MP3 files as ring tones, simply transfer any MP3 file to the phone via IrDA or Bluetooth, then access the K700i's settings applet in menu to assign the MP3 as your ring tone.

Messaging: As with any other GSM phones nowadays, the K700i is capable of sending SMS, MMS and POP3 emails. The K700i is also capable of using "presence". "Presence" is a instant messaging protocol that was developed by Nokia and Ericsson, just think of "presence" as MSN Messenger for cell phones that utilizes GPRS and EDGE connections.

Connectivity: Triband (900, 1800 and 1900mhz), GPRS, IrDA and Bluetooth, the Sony Ericsson K700i has them all. The only thing lacking is EDGE capability which is quite a shame as more and more GSM countries are upgrading to this faster data connection protocol. Push to Talk technology is not available on the K700i either, if you live in a country that has EDGE and Push to Talk services available, you might want to look at a different phone.

 

 

 

 

 

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Camera

The SE K700i has a VGA 640 x 480 resolution camera that is capable of taking still photos and videos with sound. To date, this is the first Sony Ericsson camera phone that comes with a built-in flash. I found that the camera's flash is quite handy when you're taking close up shots in dimly-lit areas. The flash is so bright that it can double as a handy dandy flashlight, quite useful for navigation in movie theaters. For still pictures, the camera is capable of taking pictures in 4 sizes 160x120, 320x240, 640x480 and an extended (interpolated) 1280x960. Take note that the camera's advertised 4x digital zoom is only available when you're taking pictures using the smallest size, a maximum of 2x digital zoom is available for pictures sized at 320x240 and no zoom for VGA size and above. For videos, there are 2 sizes available, 128x96 and 176x144, and 2x digital zoom is available for the latter while 4x digital zoom is available for the former.

Thanks to its crisp and bright LCD screen, viewing still photos is a joy. The K700i's camera isn't hugely better than the T610 and T630, but the bright screen does make it look that way. Videos,on the other hand, are a mixed bag. Videos are jerky and pixelated while the phone's demo video is amazingly smooth. I guess it's just a matter of knowing the proper video size and bitrate when you're converting movies to be viewed on the K700i.

Radio

Like most Nokia phones, the SE K700i sports an integrated FM radio which can only be activated once the bundled earphones are attached (the cord of the earphone will act as the antenna for the FM receiver). While in radio mode, tapping the joystick left and right will browse thru the various FM frequencies, holding down the joystick left or right will initiate an automatic search for any live frequency. The radio player is capable of storing up to 5 of your favorite FM stations of which you can select by tapping the joystick up or down. When a call comes in while you're listening to the radio, the music will automatically turn off and you can use the earphones as a handfree headset to take the call. The music resumes automatically once the call is over.

sample photo

Sample photo taken with camera. Click on the image to see the full size, unedited photo.

Software

The SE K700i is a feature phone. I wouldn't actually characterize it as a smartphone as its PIM capabilities is nowhere as extensive as the P900 or any other Symbian Series 60 phones, but some people might find it adequate. Here's a lowdown of the K700i's software:

Contacts: Most phones nowadays support multiple phone number assignments on a single contact and the K700i is no exception. The K700i is capable of storing 5 different phone numbers per person. In addition to that, you can also store other information like the person's address, email, website and picture. One major downside of the SE K700i is that it has a limit of 510 contacts, even though the phone itself has 41MB of memory, Sony Ericsson opted not to let the K700i take advantage of dynamic memory.

Calendar: The Calendar program of the K700i is very basic: it's something that you would expect from a phone calendar application, but as I found out, that's totally not a bad thing. The calendar application has 3 views, a day view, week view and a month view. You can add appointments on the fly and set reminder tones for appointments. It's a step back as far as PIMs are concerned if you're the kind of person who uses a PDA for PIM data, but I imagine ordinary joes and non heavy users would find the calendar application adequate.

Tasks: As with the calendar program, the K700i'sTask application is basically a very toned down of the to-do/task program found in Outlook or any other PDA.

Notes: Typical Notes program where you can type anything you want.

Code Memo: Similar to the Notes program with one major difference, notes made in Code Memo can be password protected. This makes Code memo an ideal program to store sensitive and private info like Credit Card numbers, bank details and other personal stuff that should be kept hidden from public eyes.

Media Player: No, this is NOT the same Media Player typically found on Windows PC, but there are some similarities. The K700i's Media Player handles MP3 files you have stored on the phone. Of course, with only 41MB of RAM and no expansion card slot, you'll be lucky if you can cram 8 songs on the K700i. Darn you Sony Ericsson for not including an expansion slot on this phone!

Music DJ: A program that lets you create personalized ring tones. It's very easy to use, but don't expect a full featured MIDI editor. It's more like a very basic MIDI editor for musically challenged individuals like me.

Others: The Sony Ericsson K700i also has basic programs like an Alarm clock, Calculator and Timer. Since the K700i is capable of using JAVA programs, you can simply download more games and applications as the need arises.

Battery Life

Unfortunately, battery life isn't a strong point of the K700i. You'll likely need to charge it daily, and may need a mid-day refresher if you spend a great deal of time talking on the phone each day. Sony Ericsson claims 8 hours of talk time and 300 hours standby, and we didn't quite get that.

Synchronization

Mac users will sure love the K700i as it is now supported by iSync, just pair your phone and Mac via Bluetooth and start syncing away. This tight integration of PIM syncing and SMS with the Mac has always been a strength of Sony Ericsson phones. However, syncing the K700i with a Windows PC is not a painless process. The K700i comes with its own Phone synchronization agent that you can install on the PC. The problem is, neither the synchronization agent nor the phone itself handles Outlook data well. I found out the hard way that SE's synchronization tool created duplicates of my contacts on the phone and refused to sync a few Calendar and Tasks entries that I created on the phone to Outlook. I also got a "no more memory" error when I tried to sync my Outlook Notes to the phone: it seems that all of the K700i's PIM programs have a memory limit cap. So I just synced all of my Outlook contacts to the phone and didn't sync again afterwards. I was also forced to remove some of my contacts on the phone because the K700i's 510 contact limit wasn't enough for my Outlook contact list. Phone memory limitations aside, the PC to phone synchronization process could have been much less painful if Sony Ericsson had taken a cue from Motorola and simply bundled BVRP's (www.bvrp.com) Mobile Phone Agent program with every SE phone.

Conclusion

It's quite obvious that Sony Ericsson has been doing their homework, building upon the strengths of the T610 and T630. The K700i represents the epitome of style and function that made the T series a big hit. Its direct competitor, the Nokia 6230 has nothing on the K700i as far as aesthetics are concerned. This is bar none, one of the sweetest looking candy bar type mobile phone in the market. Add to its beauty a bevy of features like a VGA camera with flash, FM radio, ring tone creator, IrDA and Bluetooth wireless connectivity and you have the makings of another great phone that targets a wide range of demographics from the average users to demanding techies. But make no mistake; the phone is far from perfect. The most irritating aspect of the phone that comes to mind is the memory limitation of the PIM applications. This greatly cripples the overall functionality of the phone as many professionals will have more than 510 contacts. The clumsy PC sync conduit also makes the K700i a lousy PIM handler, so this definitely won't be replacing my PDA. It would have also been nice if the K700i had an memory expansion slot so it can double as a serious MP3 player as well, but that's not the case.

Other than these quirks, I am quite satisfied with the K700i. It's one of those phones that's beautifully constructed and has enough features that you'll be willing to put up with some of its limitations. I like this phone enough that it's now my main mobile phone.

The K700i is available from carriers in many countries. In the US, it's sold by importers such as Expansys for approximately $500. Also check out our Siemens SX1 review. The Siemens competes with the K700i.

Web site: www.sonyericsson.com

 

Specs:

Display: 172x220 pixel resolution 65,536 color 1.8" LCD.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 700 mAh.

Performance: 41 megs of Internal memory. Processor not disclosed.

Size: 99 x 46.5 x 19.5 mm. Weight: 93 grams. This is about the same as the Sony Ericsson T610/T616 (small and light!).

Audio and Multimedia: Built in speaker, mic and stereo headset jack. Sound Recorder and MP3 player included. Can play MPEG4 video and has 40 tone polyphonic audio. Uses MP3 ringtones. Has speakerphone and supports vibrating alerts.

Camera: VGA color camera. Can send photos as MMS.

Networking: Bluetooth, IR and GSM/GPRS.

Software: PIM apps (contacts, calendar, tasks,notes), media player (MP3 and MPEG4), Java support, alarm clock, calculator, code memos (passworded memos). Sync ML for PC syncing and works with iSync on the Mac.

Expansion: None.

Mobile Phone Network: GSM triband: 900/1800/1900MHz. Works anywhere in the world GSM service is available, including the US. It will not support AT&T and Cingular Wireless' new 850MHz towers, but will work on their large existing network of 1900MHz towers. GPRS for data. Does not have EDGE high speed data.

 

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