Posted June 2003 by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief
Feb. 2004: This model has been replaced by the P900
The Sony Ericsson P800 has been one of the most
anticipated smartphones released in the past year. Why? It has
a relatively large display, runs Symbian OS 7, supports GPRS, has
Bluetooth and a VGA camera. If that isn't enough for you, it's
one of the few Symbian phones that runs UIQ and has a touch screen
that allows you to use the stylus or your finger to navigate and
enter data. It's a GSM network phone that suports GPRS for data,
and you can get it from Sony Ericsson directly as well as other
dealers. It should work with any provider's SIM card (our review
unit ran on the AT&T Wireless network), and it's a world phone
that works on 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 1900 MHz bands.
Size, Looks and Ergonomics
No doubt, this is an attractive phone. The metallic
sky blue and silver finish is beautiful. These tones and the phone's
sleek lines give it a tastefully modern and clean look. While the
casing and flip are made of plastic, it doesn't look the least
bit cheap and feels reasonably sturdy.
The phone was much smaller in person than I'd
expected, fitting well in the range of larger candy bar phones.
It's actually a bit shorter than the Nokia
3650, and a wee bit thinner than the otherwise smaller Kyocera
To use the P800 as a phone, you can simply dial
using the flip cover in the closed position, as shown in the top
left picture. If you prefer, you can use the on screen soft dialpad
instead if the flip is open. You can even remove the flip if you
prefer to have the large screen always available and set the phone
to use the on screen dialer interface as its default.
The Memory Stick Duo expansion slot is on the
right side of the phone, below a blue translucent plastic panel
that pops out. This panel has a pen like tip at one end because
it acts as the stylus! An ingenious design, though it doesn't make
the best stylus being too light and flat. It does however stay
securely in place, so you're not likely to need the included replacements.
Also on the right side of the Sony Ericsson P800 you'll find a
camera button which launches the camera app and acts as the shutter
The left side of the phone has a jog dial, headset
jack, IR port and the power button. The back is where you'll find
the VGA camera lens.
You get the phone, battery, a slim and well made sync
cradle, a CD with PC Suite, another CD with multimedia apps and games
for the P800, a 16 meg Memory Stick Duo card, extra stylii, wired headset,
an excellent printed manual and a pouch style case. What is a Memory
Stick Duo? It's yet another new memory expansion card format that looks
like a regular Memory Stick but is only about 1/2 as long. The P800 can
accept cards of up to 128 meg capacity.
The Sony Ericsson P800 has good reception and call
clarity. It's not as good as the Nokia 3650 which has excellent RF reception
and doesn't pull in as many bars of signal strength (we have both phones
and both are on AT&T Wireless which offers the best GSM reception
in our area). However, calls do sound good and I haven't dropped any
calls or heard any mentionable digital distortion in lower signal areas.
To make a call you can use the flip or the virtual
dialer display which looks indentical to the flip. Instead of send and
end buttons, you'll use the OK button to send a new call, answer a call
or end a call. The flip isn't backlit, but since it's made of translucent
plastic, the light from the display shines though to illuminate the keys.
You can also voice dial using the included headset or Sony Ericsson's
Bluetooth headset, and initiate a call from the phone book by tapping
on your contact's number.
The P800 come with CIC Jot for handwriting recognition
and this does a very good job of allowing you to enter data using natural
print characters. There's also an on screen keyboard you can call up
to enter data. Like any PDA, the P800 has all the standard PIM (personal
information manager) applications: Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and a memo
pad supporting ink notes. The Contacts app supports a good number of
fields, including home, work and fax numbers, email address, web address,
home address, work address, notes and an image for each contact. You
can create categories for your contacts and assign specific ring tones
to your contact. The calendar has day, week and month views, and indicates
appointments in week and month view as a blue box. You can set all day
appointments, repeat events and assign categories to calendar entries.
The Tasks app allows you to assign priorities, due dates, alarms to your
task and you can mark it completed. Jotter is the memo app and you can
enter text via handwriting recognition or the on screen keyboard. You
can also draw and write ink notes, and specify the color and thickness
of your lines. You can send your Jotter notes via MMS, SMS, Bluetooth
or IR. You also get a calculator and a messages app for viewing received
MMS and SMS messages and sending/receiving email (POP3, SMTP and IMAP
There's a file manager for working with files on internal
memory and the Memory Stick, a video player, audio player, picture viewer
(for looking at the JPEG photos you shoot with the built-in camera) and
MS Word viewer application. The P800 has a voice recorder which records
in pretty decent quality, and you can record over an hour on a 16 meg
stick. Voice memos can be used as ring tones and sent as MMS messages— pretty
cool! Opera is included for Internet browsing and it's quite capable,
PersonalJava and J2ME for you gamers.
Syncing and Bluetooth
PC Suite, the standard desktop apps for Symbian smartphones,
is included, as is a desktop USB sync cradle. You can sync, transfer
files and backup the phone using PC Suite. If you don't wish to use the
cradle, you can sync using IR and Bluetooth. It runs on Windows ME, 2000
and XP, and works with Outlook 98/2000/2002, Lotus Organizer 5 and 6
as well as Lotus Notes 4.6 and 5. I was pleasantly surprised that I was
able to sync and install files using Bluetooth, and I didn't go crazy
setting it up. I used Anycom's new USB-220 USB adapter on Windows 2000
and was able to pair and sync right away. I just received Anycom's latest
adapter and gave it a try with the P800 hoping for the best, and all
To connect the P800 to another device such as a laptop
or headset, you'll go into the control panel and select Bluetooth from
the connections tab. You can make the phone discoverable and initiate
pairing here, and specify whether the phone will ask permission before
connecting to paired devices. The phone supports the relatively new hand's
free profile and works well with Sony Ericsson's own HBH-60 Bluetooth
headset reviewed here.
Built-in VGA Camera
As if the P800 didn't do enough, it also has
a built-in digicam capable of taking shots at VGA (640 x 480)
resolution at your choice of three quality settings. It can also
take shots at 324 x 240 and 160 x 120 resolution. You can tweak
the brightness, contrast and lighting settings (Auto, Fixed,
Indoor, Outdoor and Flourescent). How's the image quality? Pretty
good for a VGA digicam. It compares favorably to accessory digicams
for PDAs, and does a good job of setting proper exposure and
color balance. It does display noticable artifacts on indoor
shots that aren't very well lit. Below you'll find a few sample
photos. The full size images have not been edited, while the
smaller thumbnails displayed on this page have only been reduced
in pixel dimensions.
Indoors with bright light from sliding door
Outdoors on a sunny day
Indoors, medium ambient lighting. Notice
artifacts in full size version of this image.
Comparing the Sony Ericsson
P800 to Other Smartphone Platforms
The Sony Ericsson is both a phone and a PDA.
That said it's more in the phone camp than the PDA camp. Functions
and ergonomics are phone centric, though it does offer full-featured
PIM applications and some nice basic multimedia apps. When comparing
the Symbian Series 60 Nokia 3650 to
the P800, the P800 is certainly a more formidable PDA thanks to
the strong application suite, larger screen and handwriting recognition.
The 3650 just squeaks by as a smartphone, while the P800 definitely
tackles basic PDA tasks. Plus, the P800 offers a touch screen and
handwriting recognition while the 3650 and once very popular Nokia
9290 Communicator do not.
As you might expect, the Palm OS smartphones
such as the Samsung I330 and Kyocera
7135 offer a much fuller PDA experience with greater expandability
via accessories and the myriad commercial, shareware and freeware
Palm OS apps available. The same can be said of recent Pocket PC
Phone Edition models such as the T-Mobile and Samsung i700 models.
Though you won't find as many software titles for Pocket PC OS
as Palm, there are still several thousand applications to choose
Above, size comparison
of the Nokia 3650, Kyocera 7135 and the Sony Ericsson P800.
Side view of the P800 with flip
open. The Memory Stick Duo card goes in the side under
the translucent blue cover which pops out to act as a
If you're a user who's looking for a convergence
device that will allow you to carry one device instead of two,
and you have basic PDA needs, then the P800 should do the job admirably.
If you're a PDA power user, or are interested in exploring the
rich world that PDAs offer, then the P800 may not be your device.
Battery Life and Display
The P800 comes with a user replaceable 1,000
mA Lithium Ion battery that was good for 2 days of average use,
and a week or more of standby time.
The display is a front lit TFT LCD with a resolution
of 208 x 320
pixels when the flip is open. While it's not breathtaking,
it is an adequate color display that is visible in daylight.
Attractive, and surprisingly light weight for a full-featured
Symbian smartphone. Symbian OS is reliable and stable: you won't
have to worry about losing your data due to crashes. Offers handwriting
recognition and on-screen QWERTY keyboard. Good battery life,
large color display, Bluetooth plays nicely with other devices.
built-in digicam takes nice pix. Con: PC Suite can be a challenge
at times for syncing, though generally once you get it working,
it will be reliable. Not as many apps and expansion possibilites
compared to Palm OS and Pocket PC phones make it a weak choice
for PDA pro's.
color LCD, 12 bit, 4096 colors, Screen Size Diag:
3", Resolution: 208 x 320 pixels (flip open).
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1,000
mA. Claimed battery life: Talk Time 5 hours.
9 processor running at 156 MHz, 12 MB built-in RAM
available to user. One 16 meg Memory Stick Duo also
included for memory expansion.
x 59mm x 27mm. Weight Approximately 158 grams.
in speaker, mic and standard 2.5mm mono headset
OS 7 and UIQ 2.0 user interface. Standard PIM apps
included, along with image viewer, camera app, video
player, Opera web browser, message app for email,
SMS and MMS, games and more. PC Suite for desktop
syncing and more.
Memory Stick Duo slot. 16 meg card included, can
accept up to 128 meg cards.
with GPRS. Tri-band 900 MHz (Europe), 1800 MHz and
1900 MHz (US) freqencies.