Looking for something new? Well, I can tell you that the new Sony Ericsson T310 features a completely new look when compared to previous models designed and produced by the same manufacturer. However, don’t expect any surprises after you turn on this phone, as most of what’s on board are features that we’ve all seen before - specifically on its predecessor, the T300.
I may be somewhat impressed with its new looks - but other than that, it’s just an old phone with a new set of non-removable covers…
The T310 feels more like a “facelift upgrade” to the T300 than a new model from Sony Ericsson. While the older Sony Ericsson models used more pastel-based colours, the T310 is the first of upcoming models to come with a contrasting colour scheme. It does have a slightly different shaping and all (more squared) - but I found that most of what’s on the inside is virtually the same.
This is probably the area that the T310 differs most, since it does not offer anything significantly different feature-wise to its T300 predecessor.
Straight lines and finer edges are used all over on the T310, which the T300 is completely the opposite of (based on a more “rounded” design). But the emphasis on this new design can be seen on the back of the phone, where the battery cover and internal antenna cover (black coloured cover with the Sony Ericsson logo) take on an almost-rectangular shaping. Somehow, the different coloured areas make the phone look like it was pieced together by these oblong-shaped blocks… :)
The blockier shaping was quite comfortable to hold in the hand, where the edges would assist in keeping the phone in your hand and not drop out of it. On the T300, I had several occasions where I nearly dropped the phone because of its rounded edging, as it was hard to maintain a good tactile grip. I guess this really matters when you’re in the “on the run” situations where you may not be fully concentrating on trying to keep that phone in your hand - or when you’re gaming!
You will notice that the keypad buttons are now flatter (than those of the T300) where they are now slightly easier to use and your fingers won’t slip as easily. Tactility of the keypad was good - very similar to that of the T300 predecessor.
On the back, the clip that holds down the battery cover of the older models has been done away on the T310, and is now replaced with a slide-down cover instead. When secured, the cover is kept in place by clips on the side rails and won’t slip off easily. No clip means one less moving part to worry about!
Another thing that you can tell from the back of the T310 is the new contrasting colour scheme, which will probably be used in their upcoming models (the T610 has a similar design genre). It seems that Sony Ericsson is moving away from the pastel colour design seen on most of the current models - including the T68i, P800, and T300.
Three different colour variations will be available for the T310. However, it is unclear whether all colours will be available for all markets.
When you think about it, Sony Ericsson seems to be designing their phone “looks” like how cars are. Every few years a new base design is created for a series of products of the same brand (like BMW), and this seems to be exactly what’s being done.
Oh, and one last thing - the T310 does not come with the exchangeable front face plates anymore. I guess they weren’t really that popular after all, since I haven’t really seen anyone changing them around to something more (or less) funky.
User Interface & display
Both the display and the user interface (UI) design resemble the one that was featured on the T300 predecessor. The only difference that I noticed was the slightly-faster reaction speed of the T310’s menus, which was a relief since Sony Ericsson (or Ericsson) never seems to worry about possible users who can breeze through menus and functions faster than the average newbie!
Although the T310’s keypad is shaped differently, it features the same buttons and navigation keys as the T300. The 5-way navigation key has been slightly redesigned to be slightly pointier than before, which I found to provide slightly better control of the joystick-like control device.
What was disappointing was the fact that an upgrade of the screen was not provided on this new model. It’s sad to see that Sony Ericsson had to retain this shoddy display when most other base-model phones currently on the market already have 12-bit (4096-colour) displays. They could have, at least, been decent enough to include one of these - given the type of applications provided on this particular model.
Read up on the “problems/issues” section for more information on the display issue.
Making and receiving calls
Audio quality on the T310 is generally pretty good being in line with most other GSM phone models out there on the market today. The T310 only offers the traditional method of taking calls via the earpiece, while a headset accessory can be purchased separately and attached to the base connector of the phone should you ever need one.
Again, similar to the T300, the T310 provides a vast range of messaging capabilities - including the ability to send text (SMS), graphics (EMS), and photos and high-resolution graphics (MMS). By default, the T310 comes with pre-loaded items which mean you are ready to send such messages straight out of the box (and after you’ve charged the battery, of course!)
You can also send POP3/SMTP-based email with the T310. An integrated email client is included which allows you to enter the relevant mail server settings, and is accessed by either GPRS or a standard dial-up (CSD or GSM Data) connection. This is a convenient feature to have should you need to keep a track of your emails while away from a computer.
The T310 is compatible with the CommuniCam camera attachment, which means you can capture images when the moment happens. Similar to the T300, the CommuniCam is attached to the base connector of the T310 and is activated immediately after connection. Memory is available on the phone that will allow you to store photos taken with the CommuniCam (which are saved onto the camera attachment by default).
No complaints here - the T310 is well-built and very solid! I do not believe that removing the ability in being able to exchange the front face plate was a quality issue, since I said in my previous review (T300) that it was also quite well put together. The paintwork and finishing of the T310’s exterior was quite well done too.
The T310 was able to churn out approximately 3-4 hours of talk time and up to 3-5 days of standby on average use. These figures will differ depending on how often you use the phone for voice calls, messaging, games, and taking pictures with the optional CommuniCam accessory (sold separately) - which is powered by the phone’s battery.
A note about the T310’s internal battery - should you want to take it out, for whatever reason, make sure that you have turned off the phone before doing so. Once the battery cover is slid off the back of the phone, the battery will immediately move once there is nothing to hold it down against the back of the phone and the gold contacts. This design is unalike other phones with internal batteries, where they are secure even when the protective cover is removed.