- Weight: 1 pounds
Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot C905a 8.1 MP Camera Phone, Silver (AT&T)
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The Sony Ericsson C905a is an excellent multimedia companion with a 8.1-megapixel camera, easy links to your blog and Facebook, a digital audio player with Bluetooth stereo music streaming, and more.
The C905a is packed with advanced camera functionality, such as auto focus, face detection, and a Xenon flash with red-eye reduction.
This AT&T phone can handle high-speed data connectivity via AT&T's 3G mobile broadband data network, which is available in most major metropolitan areas. The AT&T 3G network uses the dual-band 850/1900 MHz 3G network (UMTS/HSDPA), which provides download speeds ranging from 700 Kbps to 1.7 Mbps, and upload speeds ranging from 500 Kbps to 1.2 Mbps. This makes it possible to enjoy a variety of feature-rich wireless multimedia services, and it gives you the advantage of offering simultaneous voice and data services.
In areas where the 3G network is not available, you'll continue to receive service on the AT&T EDGE network, which offers availability in more than 13,000 US cities and along some 40,000 miles of major highways. Providing average data speeds between 75-135Kbps, it's fast enough to support a wide range of advanced data services, including video and music clips, full picture and video messaging, high-speed color Internet access, and email on the go. You'll also enjoy quad-band GSM connectivity, which allows you to make calls in more than 190 countries and access data applications in the more than 135 countries where AT&T offers international data roaming.
With 3G connectivity, you'll be able to access AT&T's Video Share service, which enables you to send a live, one-way video stream to another compatible phone during a standard voice call. The service also allows you to switch the direction of the video stream during the same phone call. (Customers must be in an area served by the company's 3G network and have a Video Share-enabled phone.) While using Video Share with family and friends is a fun way to communicate, it's also very useful for business. For example, a majority of users in the architecture, engineering and construction industries rated the ability to share live video through Video Share highly, according to research commissioned by AT&T. Video Share lets you see progress on a job site or review the day's work without having to drive from an office or other site to do so.
Other features include Memory Stick Micro (M2) expansion to 8 GB, and access to email and instant messaging.
With 3G connectivity, you'll be able to access AT&T's Cellular Video (CV) service and the Internet while on the go. Cellular Video features content from CNN, The Weather Channel, iFilm, Comedy Central and exclusive premium content from HBO and much more. And you get access to AT&T Mobile Music, which enables you to buy tracks while on the, access the Napster and eMusic subscription music services, stream music video, discover what's playing with Music ID song-recognition software, and find out what's hot with The Buzz music news portal.
The phone has a built-in web browser for MEdia Net downloads and mobile web browsing. AT&T's MEdia Net service enables you to receive and send emails, read news headlines, get weather updates, download games and ringtones, and more.
The Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot C905a has a unique 2.4-inch display (240 x 320 pixels, 262K color depth) made of mineral glass--the same material used in watch crystals--which offers excellent scratch resistance and is great for showcasing your photos and videos. It sits above a square navigation area that features icons around the toggle that are illuminated when the C905a is held horizontally in camera mode--so you know it's ready to take pictures even in low-light conditions. The navigation area is surrounded by two soft navigation keys, send/end keys, a shortcut key, and a clear key. To dial a number, just slide the handset's face upwards to reveal the alpha-numeric keypad.
The C905a has a 160 MB internal memory, which can be expanded via optional Memory Stick Micro (M2) cards up to 8 GB in size. The internal phonebook can store up to 1000 contacts, and it features multiple numbers per contact (as well as up to three email addresses), support for caller groups, and picture/ringer ID capabilities.
Sliding open the camera lens cover automatically engages the camera application on the phone. The still camera can capture images up to 8.1 megapixels (with your choice of four resolution options and two quality settings), and it also features a 16x digital zoom, Xenon flash, and auto rotate. The Face Detection and Auto Focus capability enables the camera to detect and focus on the face of your subject rather than the background, so that you can take sharp and high quality pictures of your friends. The phone also incorporates the latest in lighting technology--Photo Flash--giving you better quality pictures even in low-light conditions.
An image stabilizer compensates for those small movements, reducing the chance that your photo comes out blurred. The Smart Contrast function automatically compensates for shadows or unnaturally bright light in a shot. The BestPic function gives you nine chances to capture the precise moment you want. As well as your shot, the phone takes four images as you press the button, and another four afterwards. Pick the one you want, trash the rest. Select the Photo Fix function to improve pictures that you think can be better. In a one-click operation, brightness, light and contrast are adjusted to give you the best possible picture.
If you want the people in your pictures to be happy, just activate Smile Shutter. The camera waits until your subject beams that broad grin--then it automatically snaps the picture. Finally, take advantage of your C905a's GPS location-based service capabilities by geo-tagging your photos with precise information about where they were taken.
In addition to still photos, the phone can also capture video clips, with videos for messaging capped at approximately 20 seconds and those meant for saving to your PC running for as long as you have available space. It can record as a maximum resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA) at 30 frames per second (fps).
Handsfree communication is easy thanks to the integrated speakerphone. This phone also provides Bluetooth wireless connectivity (version 2.0), and includes profiles for communication headset, handsfree car kits, and file transfer. With the A2DP Bluetooth profile, you can stream your music to a pair of compatible Bluetooth stereo headphones. You can connect your laptop (either via Bluetooth or wired USB) and enjoy dial-up networking--surf the Internet, send email, and access files from a server (additional charges or subscription applicable).
The digital audio player is compatible with a wide variety of formats, including MP3 and AAC/AAC+. Additionally, you can play MPEG4 and 3GPP videos. With the TrackID service, you can identify any song that you can hear by just recording a snippet of sound using the microphone. After sending the file for recognition, you'll have the name, artist and album sent to your phone. It also includes a built-in FM radio with RDS, which displays the name of the currently playing song (when tuned to compatible radio stations).
- Upload photos and video straight to your Blogger account or Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube pages.
- Accelerometer auto-rotation--Enjoy your pictures in portrait or landscape mode. To move between modes, simply rotate the phone and the picture follows.
- Photo feeds--Use Photo feeds to check your own and your friends' blogs. Access them all from one place: your phone's Media photo album.
- Flight mode allows you to safely use the non-wireless functions of this phone (such as music, games, or organizer functions) on an airplane during flight
- Mobile Email and Instant Messenger for quick and easy access on the go (instant messaging via AOL, Windows Live, Yahoo!)
- USB mass storage capabilities
- Access to YouTube streaming videos
- Video Player with support for MPEG4, AMR, H.263, WMV file formats
- Organizer tools: calendar, calculator, alarm clock, tasks, timer, notes, stopwatch
- Personalize with downloadable games, graphic, ringtones and applications
The Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot C905a weighs 4.8 ounces and measures 4.09 x 1.93 x 0.71 inches. Its 950 mAh lithium-polymer battery is rated at up to 3.5 hours of talk time, and up to 350 hours (14.6 days) of standby time. It runs on the 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequencies as well as AT&T's 850/1900 MHz 3G frequencies (UMTS/HSDPA).
Top Customer Reviews
I had also tried out a Sony Ericsson k850i in the mix, but despite the Xenon flash, I was unimpressed by the overall picture quality. It performed no better than my N95 as a camera phone, and was lacking in every other aspect. (No GPS, no WiFi, not very many useful applications, etc).
That was then, and this is now. I recently sent in my N97 for service (the camera had started malfunctioning - that's another topic), and go the C905a merely as a "stop gap" in the mean time. Since this is also by far the most interesting phone AT&T have had in some time, I figured it was worth a new 2-year commitment, and that I would hang onto it as a "back up" phone. Also, I did know a thing or two about its features and capabilites -- for instance I knew that it supports FM Radio, WiFi, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, and any standard/personal POP3/IMAP e-mail setup - but also that AT&T had disabled all of these features. So, the first thing I did once I got it was to "de-brand" the phone. I used the DaVinci tool for this, another one is WotanServer; or you can even do it for free with the "A2 Uploader" tool and a little bit more reading beforehand. While I was at it I got it unlocked to, so that I can use non-AT&T SIMs (e.g. get a local pre-paid card while traveling abroad to avoid the exorbitant roaming fees to AT&T).
I have been absolutely blown away by this phone! It may not have every single feature that the Nokias do - but pretty close. More to the point, Sony Ericsson pay a lot more attention to the small design and implementation details, and so things generally feel more polished and complete, less quirky and buggy compared to the Nokias. The main thing it is missing is a "Smartphone" operating system (like Symbian/S60 in the case of Nokia); other than that it is in many ways more capable than even many high-end smartphones. More on that later.
The Best Cameraphone
The main feature of the phone is the camera -- and the C905a has the best camera of any phone on the market, IMHO. Especially for indoor/party pictures, it - quite literally - shines above the competition. There are only a handful of other phones available that have real Xenon flash: The Sony Ericsson k850i, the Nokia N82, the Motorola Zine ZN5, and the LG Renoir - but the C905a flash illuminates better than any of these. Also image quality is better overall - i.e. more optical resolution, better color reproduction, and so on.
The camera interface and features are also quite extensive. For instance, it supports face recognition, which if enabled will put a square around every face it detects in the viewfinder, and use these for autofocus. Or "Smile Shutter", which keeps the picture from being taken until the identified subject actually smiles. The one thing it lacks is manual ISO control - though it does have several "scene modes", and usually picks a good ISO setting on its own. (Sometimes a bit conservative/low, choosing instead to rely on the flash for illumination. The good news is that means less grainy pictures; the bad news is that in twilight settings where the subject is close to the camera, you'll find that the strong flash causes a very short exposure time, where the background becomes too dark in the picture).
As far as video recording - well - that's another story. While competitors - notably Nokia - have standardized on VGA resolution (640x480 pixels) at 30 frames per second ever since the N95, Sony Ericsson STILL stick to their QVGA (320x240) resolution video mode. Well - at least - each pixel seems to count a bit more now than it did with the k850i; in terms of "real" (optical) resolution I'd say videos from this phone may actually be - just about - comparable to those from the N95/N96/N85/N97.
UPDATE: I compared the cameras of the C905a with the Nokia N97 (now back from repair). As it turns out, not only do the C905a's still pictures have better optical resolution, particularly in low light conditions, but it turns out that zooming in on subjects while recording video is handled much better as well. The C905a's zoom zooming operation is smoother, and subjects remain relatively sharp up to a factor of 3x-4x or so, whereas the N97's zoom operates in discrete steps ("choppy" zooming), and the videos immediately become more grainy as you zoom in. It may simply be that the C905a features optical zooming in video recording mode, while the N97 is all digital zoom. Finally, the zooming range of the C905a is much larger (allows you to zoom in much further), though I would actually have preferred the option to limit that to about 3x/4x in order to retain video quality.
The Smartest "Dumbphone"
Once debranded, the C905a has virtually all the features and capabilities that you would expect from ANY phone, smart or not:
- GPS, with included applications for turn-by-turn directions (WayFinder; subscription required), Google Maps, and location tagging of pictures taken by the camera. The GPS works pretty well: Where some of my Nokia phones and in particular the N97 would constantly lose and re-gain the GPS fix, and as a result Nokia Maps would constantly be recalculating directions and getting things completely mixed up, the C905a with WayFinder has been rock solid. It may not be quite as full-featured; for instance I don't see a place to change the default UK English voice, endearing as she is; nor does there seem to be a way to store maps/data directly on your device, so you will depend on a data plan. Overall I am very happy with the GPS though.
- Wireless LAN (WiFi). Unlike the Nokias, when you setup a WLAN access point you can also chose to share your phone's filesystem over the network, as if it were a Windows file server.
- Bluetooth with nearly every profile in existence. HSP/HFP for handsfree calling (obviously), A2DP/AVRCP for stereo audio streaming/control, DUN/PAN for internet connection tethering, GOEP/OBEX (so you can send/receive files, Contacts/vCards, browse the phone's filesystem, etc), PBAP/SP (to transfer/synchronize your contacts with compatible devices such as your car stereo). One thing that's missing compared to the Nokias is support for a Bluetooth keyboard - but then again, that's pretty esoteric anyway.
- E-mail reader with support for standard IMAP/POP3 setups as well as Microsoft Exchange. It is nicely done - much more polished and userfriendly than the Symbian/S60 reader in Nokia smartphones, and in some ways works better too. For instance, the only way to get the S60 reader to persistently update your mailbox without having to keep the Messaging application open is to set it to poll at specified intervals; but in this case it insists on indexing ALL e-mails in your inbox. Since I have about 9000 messages in my Inbox, it would simply not work (it would become slow and eventually crash). Not so with the C905a - it autodetects IMAP IDLE support on my mail server, and consequently gives me "push" mail (without the need for any third party service such as Nokia Messaging, BlackBerry Connect or MobileMe). More to the point, it just works -- right out of the box. NOTE: To set up a Microsoft Exchange account via Outlook Web Access, you need to go into Settings -> Connectivity (the right-most tab) -> Synchronization.
- There is a built-in IM application, which supports the standard Open Mobile Alliance IMPS protocol. In the branded version, there are predefined settings for MSN, AIM and Yahoo! (using AT&T's IM service). Unfortunately, after debranding, these are not available; however you can bring them back by uploading a customization file into the phone's filesystem via "A2 Uploader" or similar. More info in the comments. Alternatively, you may be able to use one of the several open IMPS gateways that exist - a free one is MobJab (look them up).
- The unbranded image also comes with a YouTube player preinstalled; however it does not work correctly on AT&T's network (it simply hangs when you try to play videos). Again, there is a simple "customize_upgrade.xml" hack that fixes this - also included in the comments below.
- Music player with support for most common media types (MP3, AAC/M4A, WMA, etc). FM Tuner with RDS. RSS feeds with support for embedded media (e.g. podcasts). You can set these up for automatic update (over "Local connections"/WiFi only or over the air as well). Feeds can be displayed on your main screen if you choose. Also included is a "TrackID" application to let you sample music from internal or external sources (via microphone), then see music matches via a service free of charge (so long as you have a data plan).
- A couple of sports-oriented applications: Tracker (uses the GPS to record your track/speed/distance etc and allows you view the data later), and WalkMate (which uses the built-in accelerometer to count steps). The latter can be set as your idle screen wallpaper, in which case it is constantly updating.
- Organizer functions are also very well implemented. Obviously the Calendar, Tasks and Contacts can be synchronized (via Exhcange/ActiveSync, SyncML or via Bluetooth from your computer). There is a stopwatch and timer application (I'm mentioning this because these are notably absent from Nokias). The built-in calculator is fairly basic, but has "Converter" functions for length, mass, temperature, area, and volume. There is a standard Notes application as well as a "Code Memo", the latter allows to to create an encrypted and password-protected note. Lastly, there is a standard File Manager to allow you to browse through your filesystem.
- It does not have a secondary rear-facing camera for video calling, but video calling is still supported via the front-facing camera.
- Real multitasking - so you can run several applications at the same time, whether they are native/built-in or third-party Java/J2ME apps (MIDlets). So you can run Opera Mini (an excellent and very fast web browser), AccuWeather (included in the unbranded version), the Audible audiobook reader, Google Maps and WayFinder navigator -- all simultaneously. As a matter of fact, some of these applications can be set as wallpaper on your main/standby screen - for instance, with a little searching you'll find "PIMWallpaper" that will show your upcoming appointments. In contrast, some "smartphones" such as the Motorola A1200 MING (in fact, about all Motorolas) can only multi-task between native apps, while others such as the iPhone cannot multitask at all!
So why is it not classified as a smartphone? Well - the most commonly accepted definition of a smartphone is one that runs a recognized operating system and native application environment. The latter basically boils down what type of applications you can get for the phone. While most phones (with the notable exception of the iPhone and the Palm Pre) are able to run standard Java 2 Micro-Edition (J2ME) applications, smartphones can additionally run applications that are built natively for their specific operating system, and that can integrate with the phone in a tighter way. For instance, Nokia smartphones can run either J2ME or Symbian/S60 applications; there are several third-party mail readers available for Symbian/S60 that offer significant advantages over the default one, while still being integrated into the various areas of the phone user interface (home screen notifications, visibility in various "Send" menus throughout, e.g. in the photo browser, and so on).
You could argue that if the native functions of the phone is designed well, there is not really a need for third party applications to gain access to such low-level OS/hardware capabilities. For instance, if the default S60 mail reader had been done better, then maybe there would not be as many third party readers needed. At least, that seems to be the Apple philosophy (you cannot get third party web browsers, e-mail readers, or even GPS voice-guided apps for the iPhone, for instance). That, really, is more of a philosophical/value question.
Now, not having the "smartphone" label is not all bad - especially in the case of AT&T. An unlimited data plan for this phone is $15/month (or $10/month if you also have unlimited messaging). In contrast, all of the "smart phones" (per AT&T's definition) in their lineup are subject to data plans at $30/month or higher. The difference is $360 or $480 over your two-year contract term. Moreover, for the iPhone their $30/month data plan is MANDATORY, so that they can offset the $400 or so subsidy that they provide for the phone -- for the C905a, you can add or remove the data feature at any time.
I should also note that by AT&T's definition, most of the Nokia N-Series phones also do not "qualify" as smartphones, since they are missing the QWERTY keypad.
The Classiest Design
Sony Ericsson have always had a reputation for well designed, classy devices; this label is quite well deserved for this phone as well. Although the phone exterior is actually made of plastic (belying its "brushed metal" color), it feels in a way more "high quality" than some of the competition.
One thing you will notice when you look at the phone is that it has a little bit of a girth. Well, OK, it's fat, and perhaps a little sensitive about it, OK!? I'm quite willing to forgive it for this, given the reason: The camera optics. This phone has a focal length of 5.91mm; in contrast that Nokia N95 is 5.6mm, the N97 is 5.4mm, and ironically, the N86 8MP only has a 4.6mm focal length (though the latter has a much wider angle than the others). For reference, the iPhone has 3.85mm and the Nexus one has 4.31mm. It is simply not possible to get good detail in pictures once the focal length becomes too short. If you think of it as a pocket camera, not a phone, it is actually very tiny. It is also very pocketable, still.
As far as user interface and functionality goes, it is a pure pleasure. Everything seems to be well thought out in a way that you don't see in phones from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, etc. A few examples:
- To select someone from our contacts list you can just start spelling their name from the main screen (e.g. to get "Jeff Bezos" you would start by typing 5-3-3 for J-E-F).
- If you have stored the birthday of your contacts, then you will get automatic reminders as that day approaches.
- In the call log, you will see an icon next to each person that called you indicating which number they called from (i.e. home, work, cell).
- Your SMS/MMS inbox has a "Conversation" view, where you see each of your message threads as a series of iPhone-esque "cutish" little bubbles.
- The message composer window has handy little shortcuts for attaching files, pictures, contacts etc (in which case it will be sent as MMS rather than SMS).
- Music streaming over Bluetooth is very well done. No skipping/hiccups (as on most of the Nokias). If your car stereo supports it, the actual artist/album/track names are displayed as well. If you have skip forwards/backwards steering wheel controls, holding them down will do fast forward/reverse within the current track.
- Last, but not least, all of the UI transitions are very smooth and pleasing (they are based on Adobe Flash).
There are literally hundreds of little things like this that makes up for a much nicer/smoother experience than my previous phones.
Unlocking its power
As mentioned earlier, many of the features I have described here are available only in the original/unbranded firmware, but are disabled in the AT&T flavor. Most notably, support for WiFi, SIP (Internet Telphony), Exchange/ActiveSync, and the standard mail client.
I did not have leave the AT&T firmware on long enough to get a good sense of its merits, if any; suffice it to say that most of the AT&T specific software that was preloaded was geared towards getting you to spend money in their "MEdia Mall". For instance, the center navigation key normally brings up the main menu, but in the AT&T version it brings up the "MEdia Mall" web page, where they will nickel & dime you for ring tones, "AT&T Navigator", klunky old Java apps, etc.
There are several "de-branding" services available; there are even some articles and how-tos describing how to do this for free (albeit in a bit more manual way). I highly recommend that you do this first, before investing any time or data into the "crippled" product. There are several unbranded firmware images available; if you speak a language besides English you may wish to chose one that supports that language. In my case, that was the "Nordic" flavor, which gives me predictive text input etc. in Norwegian.
UPDATE: As it turns out, you might want to choose an "Americas" flavored firmware, even if you want to support other languages. That's because AT&T's "Cellular Video" service will only work if the "User-Agent:" string sent by your web browser includes the string "SonyEricssonC905a" (with the "a" at the end), rather than "SonyEricssonC905". You can still add support for specific languages back manually; more details in the comments below.
Working with the Mac
The phone comes with a Sony Ericsson PC Suite, but no software for the Mac in the box.
That said, overall the phone works well with your Mac. Out of the box, without any third party software, you can pair your phone with your Mac over Bluetooth to:
- Send/receive files, browse the phone's filesystem from your Mac
- Connect to the internet using your cell phone data plan (tethering)
- Manually send/receive contacts as vCards (export/import to the Mac Address Book)
- Use the device as an input device for your computer (basically there is a "remote control" app on the phone which can be used to give mouse/arrow key input)
Also, you can it in via the USB cable in "Mass Storage" mode (power off the phone, then plug it in), in which case your phone's filesystem will be available as desktop icons on your Mac. Any photos will automatically be imported into iPhoto.
You will likely want to get some additional software for extra functionality though:
- First, be sure to download and install the iSync plugins from Sony Ericsson's web site. If you had already paired your phone with your Mac before installing, you can now go to System Preferences -> Bluetooth, highlight your phone, and then click on the little "wheel" icon at the bottom to select "Configure this device..." - this way you get the option to "Set up iSync to transfer contacts and events".
- Also from the SE website, be sure to get "Sony Ericsson Media Sync" - this will allow you to synchronize iTunes playlists with your phone via USB. It works similar to Nokia Multimedia Transfer if you are familiar with that, except that when you plug your phone into your Mac, you need to choose "Media Transfer" mode; it also does not synchronize or import Pictures, nor does it "transcode" videos that are not playable on your phone, so you need to make sure you have them in the correct format beforehand.
- Salling Clicker - a more sophisticated Bluetooth remote control application. For instance, you can open PowerPoint or Keynote presentations (you'll see the slide outlines on your phone) and hold a slideshow; you can control media playback in iTunes and Front Row; you can control your system volume, or even do basic mouse emulation.
OK, now for the more interesting portion of this review. I always find that I learn more from reading about flaws and annoyances than just pure praise. And - sure enough - there are some.
UPDATE: Some of these have become apparent to me after I initially wrote this review. With all these in mind, I might have given a 4 star, rather than 5 star rating for the phone. In particular, "Enterprise" features such as MS Exchange integration and support for corporate WiFi authentication protocols are not quite up to par compared with those in proper smartphones.
- For starters, Sony Ericsson are perhaps the most stubborn company in the world, sans Apple perhaps, when it comes to insisting on proprietary connectors and interfaces. While the world at large has moved to the miniUSB and more recently µUSB standard for charging and data transfer, SE keeps their klunky old "fast port" interface. This means you need a special SE cable to connect it to a computer or to charge it; a USB cable and a wall charger (but no car charger) is included in the box. This same port is also used for wired sound, though this AT&T retail unit does NOT include any headset. You'll need to purchase a Sony Ericsson compatible or Bluetooth headset on your own.
- Likewise, they STILL use their proprietary M2 (micro) memory stick interface; again, one is NOT included in the AT&T flavor of this unit. Moreover, these are more expensive than standard µSD/µSDHC cards that you would get for other phones. Currently, the largest size available is 16GB, and that will run you nearly a hundred.
- To get good pictures, it is often necessary to manually change or adjust settings. In particular, since the flash is so strong, you'll often find that where there are subjects close to the camera, the exposure time and ISO values become so low that the background turns really dark; the way to prevent this is to use the "Smart Contrast" setting. Likewise, like on most cameras, the flash is very close to the lens, causing a lot of red eyes - use the "red eye reduction" mode when taking pictures of people indoors. Finally, Image Stabilization and Location Tagging are turned off by default; first thing I did was to go in and enable these.
- As mentioned, video recording is limited to 320x240 pixels at 30fps. As also mentioned, however, zooming in on subjects is smooth and, do some degree, retains granularity.
- Although the e-mail reader is overall quite nice, it has a couple of issues, too. First, it does not render HTML mail. Second, if you have more than one e-mail account (e.g. a personal POP3/IMAP account plus an Exchange/OWA account for work), then you have to make only one of them "active" at any one time. Only that one will be synchronized, until you switch back. I also seem to have an issue or two with Exchange Push working reliably - invariably it switches to "Sync Inactive".
- Exchange support is very basic; you get E-mail, contact and calendar synchronization, but no "Global Address List" (directory) support, nor can you respond to meeting invites (Accept, Reject) directly on the phone. (But once you respond via your computer, the phone calendar is automatically updated). Moreover, the text of calendar entries created from Exchange meeting invitations is truncated at around 10 lines of text (give or take), meaning that you may not be seeing all relevant information from such invites (e.g. dial-in numbers).
- I had one issue with Exchange, which I believe to be somewhat unique: It would fail to communicate with our Exchange 2007 servers at work. After a fair amount of troubleshooting and research, I have found that the issue is that the Exchange server chooses an authentication method based on the "User-Agent:" string that the client sends, and for Sony Ericsson phones it incorrectly uses XML Forms Based authentication rather than Basic authentication. As I said, this does not seem to be a widespread problem; YMMV. I have now resorted to installing and using System SEVEN (seven dot com) for my work mail, which also fixes the other couple of issues above and then some, but which drains the battery a little faster.
- Likewise, although the phone has an option for "WPA Enterprise" security (802.1x/EAP) in the WiFi settings, I am not able to get this working -- there seems to be no place to enter the EAP settings such as username/password, inner/outer authentication protocol, etc. So, mainly, I get WiFi at home, but not at work.
- There is no support for PDF or Microsoft Office documents in the device, nor Adobe Flash (e.g. in the web browser). I guess that's another reason/outcome of this not being a "smartphone".
- Any browser sessions in the native web browser does not show up on the tasklist! This means that if you switch to or launch another task while browsing, there is no way to return to the page you were viewing (Launching the browser via the menu will return to the home page). This is just yet another reason to download and use Opera Mini instead.
- There are various arbitrary limits here and there: 1000 phonebook entries, 5 alarms (each may be configured differently though, wrt. tone, reoccurrence, etc), notes cannot exceed a certain length, etc. Most of these are reasonable, save for the calendar entry description limit described above.
- The 2.4" screen is a little "small-ish", even compared to the likes of the N85, N95, etc. That said, it is very crisp, and also easily legible outdoors in direct sunlight.
- There is no quick way to turn the phone "Offline" (i.e. airplane mode). You have to enable the "Flight Menu" option at startup, then restart your phone to get this prompt. I like to keep my phone offline while at home (especially because I use it as an alarm, and don't like to have this much EMR/RF close to my two young children at night); the least painful way of doing this is to simply turn it off, and let it wake up for the alarm.
- The battery life is nothing to brag about. Obviously this will be more true if you use the Xenon flash a lot, or if you leave it continuously connected via WiFi. On the other hand, the battery life and signal indicators are a bit more "honest" in this phone than in the Nokias, Motorolas etc I have owned (which would show Full until just about 1/4 charge was left, then rapidly decrease).
Overall I am very pleased with this phone. In particular since the camera, GPS and e-mail reader all works significantly better on this device than on my N97. And like most Sony Ericsson's, the longer you keep it the more subtle and pleasing things you discover.
It does have some limitations; it does not claim to be a replacement for your netbook or mobile computer the same way that Nokia (sometimes a bit arrogantly) does. For the price, though, you could not possibly expect more.
I don't want to review the phone in detail as this model is almost a year old for SE even though AT&T started to carry it just recently.Good thing is nothing newer came from SE to make this phone obselete. In fact, it's still their best camera phone because of the Xenon flash. The original C905 even has WiFi while this AT&T branded version has WiFi disabled. It can be enabled if you know how to debrand the phone. Search Google for "Debrand C905a" and you should see the solution. It's very easy and can be done in less than 10 minutes once you download the applications required. But remember, you will lose any the AT&T branded software which to me are useless. The phone even feels faster once debranded. You can even enable the phone to play Youtube once you debrand and make a change in an xml file. Again, google for the info.
The build quality is excellent and much better than W760a.The screen is very bright and readable in sunlight and with sunglasses unlike several other phones. Smart dialing is very useful if you have a huge contact list. Also, from call logs, you can choose "Details" and view all other numbers and for the contact. Comes in very handy when you want to dial a different number of that contact. Installed Opera Mini for browsing and it makes browsing a much better experience compared to the standard browser that comes with the phone. Bought a 8GB Memory Stick Micro Card to add music collection plus to not run of memory when I go on photo-shooting marathon. Unlike iPhone you can delete the songs if you want more memory to take video or photos without having to sync.
1. Need to debrand to enable WiFi.
2. Video recording is not worth unless you plan to view only on the phone.
3. Default email client is not great. Well, I know it's not a smartphone.
1. Excellent camera and Xenon Flash is a HUGE plus.
2. Great music phone as well.
3. Plenty of themes found on web to change the look of the phone menus.
4. Smart dialing and excellent call logs.
5. Super interface to send MMS, and SMS messages.
6. Super bright screen that is bright even in daylight.
7. Debranding gets WiFi, Active Exchange Server features to sync with exchange server for emails, contacts, calendar. I am able to sync contacts and calendar with my google account without having to use SyncML. Again, search google contacts sync for Sony Ericsson if you plan to use SyncML. Or search Sync iPhone Google contacts, calendar and use those same settings for Exchange and it should work.
8. Several free Java apps found on [...] that work great for me including for IMs, Photo uploaders, etc.
This phone may not have touchscreen which is the latest craze but nothing betters this phone in standard phone/SMS/MMS functionality. It is easily the best subsidized non-smartphone out there. I would have given it 5 stars if AT&T released the phone without disabling the WiFi feature. Since, I debraded it's a 5 star phone for me.
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