Sony Ericsson K850i

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Sony Ericsson K850i
  • Sony Ericsson K850i
  • Sony Ericsson K850i
  • Sony Ericsson K850i

Pros

  • 5-megapixel Cyber-shot camera with 16x digital zoom, redesigned media interface, spring-operated battery and SIM card cover, vibrant display, accelerometer

Cons

  • Controls and keypad quite small, touch-sensitive selection buttons not well placed, a little chunky

Bottom Line

The K850i is the best camera phone currently available on the market. Although it still doesn't replace a stand-alone digital camera, for a device that you can carry everywhere in your pocket, it does a fine job. It's a shame about the small keypad and squashed controls.

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Sony Ericsson's first phone to feature a 5-megapixel camera with 16x digital zoom, the HSDPA-capable K850i is packed with features. Touch-sensitive selection buttons, a completely redesigned media interface and a convenient spring-operated battery and SIM card cover are just some of what this beast has to offer.

The K850i is quite chunky and certainly a little larger and thicker than what we anticipated. Although the gloss black surface looks quite attractive, it's a magnet for fingerprints -- this is a disadvantage to the camera, as the lens is housed by clear plastic and doesn't have a slide open cover like previous models. For the first time ever to be seen on a mobile phone, the K850i houses the battery and SIM card beneath a fold out cover at the bottom -- much the same as a regular digital camera.

The user interface is familiarly excellent, but the K850i's controls are a mixed bag. The four-way navigational pad is thin and to select an item, you need to move your finger away from the pad and onto the touch-sensitive selection buttons at the bottom edge of the display. This does take a while to get used to and can be frustrating when first using the handset. Although the touch-sensitive selection buttons are responsive, they feel a little squashed as they are situated just above the answer and end call keys. Further, the keypad buttons are quite small and it will take a while to pick up the pace in terms of messaging.

For calls, the K850i has a reasonable voice quality, though volume could have been much louder, especially when used in a noisy environment.

The much anticipated 5-megapixel Cyber-shot camera works well. It acts very similar to a stand-alone digital camera in the fact that it has its own on/off button and a slider that switches between camera, view and video recording modes. The BestPic function takes nine photos with one press of the shutter button, allowing you to select the best photo. Four pictures are taken as the camera button is pressed and four just after (using memory buffering). You can then check the results and pick the pictures you like the most, saving as many as you like.

The quality of photos is certainly impressive, and both the auto focus and digital zoom work well. We were able to take reasonable, if not outstanding photos in low-light conditions, and the range of settings and options is extremely impressive -- headed by photo fix and image stabiliser functions. It's still no match for a stand-alone digital camera, but if you want something you can carry everywhere, the K850i certainly does the job and is without a doubt the best camera phone on the market -- the quality of its images are better than Nokia's N95.

The media interface of this handset has been completely redesigned and now closely resembles both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable (PSP). Conveniently, an accelerometer auto-rotates between portrait or landscape modes. You can access and edit photos, music, videos and adjust settings, but there is still no standard 3.5mm headphone jack, though the relatively large display is crisp and clear for watching video. For photos, X-Pict Story, an automatic slideshow created based on four moods, adds music and transitional effects with a single button press.

The K850i also offers access to PlayNow, a music download service, and Track ID. PlayNow lets you listen to samples and then download tracks to your phone or PC, while TrackID allows you to record a few seconds of any song you wish and the title, album and artist name are sent back to you. It then allows you to download the full track if it is available.

SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging -- all with T9 predictive text input, an FM radio, a voice recorder, Java games as well as Bluetooth with A2DP and USB connectivity are all included. 40MB of internal memory comes standard, but a 512MB M2 card is included and the K850i can also hold microSD cards.

Battery life is very reasonable, rated at up to three and a half hours of talk time and up to 350 hours standby time on a 3G network.

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