The dual-front Sony Ericsson K700i is more than just a phone - itís a full messaging and imaging device too. The reason I say dual-front is that the K700i looks like a digital camera from the back, but flip it around and youíll see the mobile phone characteristics - the numerical keys and a big display. Sonyís digital camera products look very similar to the K700i, this part of the company surely had a big say in the design of this model.
The K700i is the same as the K700 model released in other parts of the world, there are only minor things changed between the two models - oh, and the letter addition too! The K700i includes all the basics for the new generation users in a sexy new design.
There are many helpful guides and a stereo headset in the sales package, so you can get started using the K700i once the battery has had a full charge after you take it out of the packet!
Besides from the outstanding design, there isnít much else in the K700i that we havenít been seen before in previous models. However, the K700i does compile features which havenít been seen in a handset together very often - like a polyphonic ring tone composer and MP3 ring tone support.
The K700i has a digital VGA camera, flash light, e-mail messaging support, GPRS connectivity for the WAP 2.0 browser or for a PC over Bluetooth/Data-cable/Infrared connection, and a Stereo FM radio.
The VGA camera is more than a still imaging device, it can capture video too. The tabbed UI of the K700i allows you to quickly change from still to video and vice-versa. Images are captured at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels (although the K700i does take larger photos), and video at 176 x 144 pixels or smaller. There is a 4x digital zoom which can be used on only some sized images and all videos - check the Problems/Issues section for more on that. The photo light is located just next to the camera lens on the back and aids in photos taken in low-light situations. More on the camera and example shots are present in the Camera Performance Section.
The K700i has support for most messaging formats alike many phones these days. Full support for EMS messages with small pictures and formatted text, and extra long SMS messages. MMS messages (or Picture Messages as theyíre called on this model) can contain images, video, sound, and text to be sent to a mobile phone or e-mail recipient. E-mail messages over the POP3 or IMAP4 protocols are also supported for sending and receiving. The camera brings your MMS/E-mail messages to life.
The K700i has most connectivity options available to you without any additional hardware needed. The WAP 2.0 browser is there to be used, so once you have activated GPRS on your service and have set up the appropriate settings it can be used instantly to download information, fun, and games. The GPRS protocol can also be used when the phone is connected to PC to allow it to surf the internet.
Speaking of PC connections, the K700i can connect to a PC or other device over Bluetooth, Infrared, or USB Data-cable. The K700i can connect to audio devices with Bluetooth as well, and files on the handset can instantly be sent via Infrared/Bluetooth or other method directly from the options menu.
Quiet moments need to be livened up - and the Stereo FM radio should do just that. Once a headset is attached, as it acts as the antenna, up to 20 stations can be tuned in and stored in the memory. The audio will come out crystal clear when using the headset or you can change it to the full duplex speakerphone if you wish - which sounds reasonable.
As stated above, the K700i has dual fronts. One side itís a camera, the other itís a phone. Whichever way you look at it, the K700i is a great looking phone. Silver and grey mostly, the K700i also has a bit of black colouring. The buttons are all clear plastic and easy to see/use. The phone isnít very large at all, a bit bigger than some standard form factor phones but the feature list surely makes up for the size. At 99mm x 46mm x 20mm and 93grams, itís liveable.
There is only one small problem with the physical side of things on the K700i. The ends donít look sharp, but once youíve used it to talk with for a while your ear will feel the sharp pain. Thereís more about this in the Problems/Issues section of this article. The top ends are the only sharp corners; the bottom corners are more rounded and wonít cause any problems.
Each of the main-use buttons are big and square enough to be pushed easily, and typing messages is a breeze in conjunction with T9 predictive text. The soft keys arenít too close to the other keys either, and the directional key is probably one of best Iíve used - itís easy to move and doesnít hurt your fingers.
The scratched grey style is mainly on the battery cover on the back of the phone, but also makes an appearance around the display. From the back the camera lens makes a bold statement being surrounded with silver and words creeping around it. The photo light is the clear section just on the left and the external antenna support is beneath the stopper on the right.
There is one large rubber stopper which hides away the charging and other ports on the bottom of the phone - but luckily this is attached to the phone so you wonít loose it. When itís on it fits in perfectly with the phone and you will barely notice that itís there. For those trying to find the wrist strap insert take a peek behind the battery cover - itís slightly off centre (left). Poke the loop in and then replace the cover to keep it secure.
There are several more Dual-front devices that have been released from Sony Ericsson, so keep a look out for them if you like the look of the K700i.
User Interface & display
The UI on this Sony Ericsson phone has had a slight overhaul. It looks different from the T610/30 models, and many other that had the same as those two handsets. A ďspotlightĒ effect follows around icons on the main menu, and an easier to use tab system in some menus is a relief from endless down-scrolling. The bright and fresh display is better than ever, the size and quality is perfect.
Known for less-animated user interfaces, Sony Ericsson have stuck with still icons for the main menu, but they do come to life a bit once selected. There is a total of 12 icons on the main menu to select from, all labelled and with appropriate icons. When opened, the selection is pointed on the messages menu. When you move the selection to another icon it gets bigger and smaller, like a balloon being inflated and deflated. A white square surrounds your selected icon too.
If you donít like the pre-set 4 themes, which change the overall look of the UI, you can download more from a range of different sources. I quite liked the blue theme, named ďBlubĒ. You can create your own themes too with software from the Sony Ericsson website.
The display on the K700i is bright, big, and accompanies the handset perfectly. It measures 176 x 220 pixels, and has the capability of 65,536 colours within this range. The main reason I liked the display is because of the themes - they take full advantage of the colours available, with not one spot left blank at any one time. Everything is very user friendly, easy to operate and work with. Animated backgrounds when the phone is idle are even better. This has got to be on of the best 65k colour displays Iíve ever trailed! For even bigger screen viewing the new Sony Ericsson Bluetooth Media Viewer MMV-100 can be plugged into a TV for easy display.
From the idle screen the set wallpaper is displayed, with the operator name and possibly the cell information below. On the top line you will find the battery level and reception status on the right and left side respectively. In between these will be the other status indicators, like infrared, Bluetooth, etc. On the bottom of the screen is the time and date on the left and right side, and then below that the soft key functions. Pressing the directional key in once will open the main menu, as indicated by the four squares.
There are the normal numerical 0-9 buttons (including * and #), and also the ever-so-familiar ďbackĒ and ďcĒ keys. There are two soft keys above these and the directional key which can be pushed in as well as being moved left/right/down/up. Other buttons around the handset include the volume up/down buttons on the left side, and the camera button which is held down to start the camera application. On the right side the only button is the web button, pressing it will open the WAP browser. The directional keys can be defined to anything on the K700i - and can be changed easily from the settings menu. This is much better than other models which only let certain items become quick-links.
Making and receiving calls
Audio quality and the process of making and receiving calls on the K700i were fine - it was the actual affect on the ear that was more worrying. This is due to the design of the handset; the tops are too hard and sharp. Luckily the stereo headset is included for you to use - I had to resort to this after using the phone to make calls a few times.
The K700i has an inbuilt phonebook but can read from the SIM card too, so you can copy contacts back and forth, delete, and edit them at your leisure. The VGA camera will lighten up your contacts, as pictures taken with the phone can be added to the contact and the image will be displayed when they call.
When in a call several options can be accessed by using the soft keys and directional stick to move around. The speakerphone is easily activated through the in-call menu, plus you can combine two calls you may have going, activate call waiting, and more - all depending on what is supported from your provider on your SIM card. When in call the volume is changed with the external buttons on the side of the phone.
The size of the K700i is fine for calls, it fits nicely in hand and if the unattractive pinching-of-ear didnít occur it would have received full points in this section of my review.
The K700i supports SMS, EMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging, and also instant messaging if needed. The GPRS protocol allows these MMS messages, and with the inbuilt VGA camera with the 4x digital zoom MMS messages are more personal than before. T9 predictive text makes messaging hassle free and fast.
Composed MMS messages can contain images, video, text, sounds, and animations. MMS messages are great to show how much you care for friends and family easily. The messages are great fun and easy to send - pressing the create message button will prompt you for either a text message or picture message. Picture messages are the MMS messages on the K700i. The built in VGA camera can capture stills and video and in a few key presses the message can be off to an e-mail address or phone number instantly.
SMS and EMS messages can contain text formatting - bold, paragraphs, indents, and more. The messages can also be longer than the normal 160 characters thanks to multiple messages. The messages are linked together and sent out separately, then combined on the receivers end.
E-mail messaging is supported on the K700i as long as the e-mail server youíre trying to connect to uses the POP3 or IMAP4 protocol. When a GPRS connection is established the phone can check for new messages or send outgoing ones.
All connection on the K700i is done via the Connectivity menu on the main menu. Here you will find settings and activation for Bluetooth, and Infrared - and you can configure synchronization, mobile networks, data communication, streaming settings, and settings for Java, and also accessories. If you donít have any idea what any of the selections are press the right selection button ďInfoĒ for a quick description.
When the Connectivity menu is opened every option is neatly displayed in a text format - first up is Bluetooth. When opening this menu you will find visibility settings, options to search/pair new devices, organize your devices and more. I connected the K700i to several Bluetooth headsets and other phones for data transfers, the menus are very informative and easy to use, and I experienced nothing but good quality connections. Quickshareô makes sharing of pictures easy with just a few key presses.
The Infrared connections on Sony Ericsson phones are great - because you can set them for on, which stays on indefinitely, or a 10 minute timeout, or just leave it off. Images, videos, wallpapers, and more can all be transferred directly from the phone to another device via infrared from the menu.
The K700i has GPRS technology, enabling the phone to be used as a modem for a PC or laptop once connected and also surf the internet as a single device. The WAP 2.0 browser brings images and text to life on the handset for ease of viewing, and all kinds of files can be downloaded into the 41mB internal memory. Data can be streamed from the K700i also; itís just a matter of consulting the menu.
The K700i has the ability to synchronize its data wirelessly over GPRS or with a local connection to a PC through the PC Suite software on the CD disk included in the sales package.
Overall the K700i has been build well. The only problem I had was with the top edges, but thatís explained more than enough throughout the review and in the Problems/Issues section of the article. The only removable part on the handset is the back battery protector, and when in your hand the phone is tough and sturdy without being weighty.
The back cover of the K700i has rails like the T630, so itís easy for it to attach and detach without breaking it. The battery is easily removed and replaced, and the SIM card is easily inserted. When it comes to removing the SIM card you may need to use two hands - one to lift the top of the card and the other to push it up and out.
As with most Sony Ericsson phones, the battery life could have been better. For the average user there will be no problems, but excessive camera users will see some unattractive battery loss in no time. The battery pack is only 700mAh though, so it does do quite well considering.
Sony Ericsson state the battery will last the phone for 300 hours standby time and 8 hours talk time in perfect conditions. I would expect probably 4 or 5 and half hours of talk time.