The last time we saw something as exciting from Sony Ericsson was the T68i, a slight revamp of the ground-breaking T68m when it was released last year. Since then, there have been those odd new models from the Japanese-Swedish partnership - which I doubt has raised many eyebrows… until now?
Enter the T300, Sony Ericsson’s colour display model for the masses. It takes much from the current T68i model and improves on those qualities to bring along a much-improved product - showing that they’ve listened to their current users. But it’s not here to replace the T68i in any way though.
The T300, in many ways, is very similar to the T68i - including their somewhat similar looks, user interface and navigation, basic features, and the 256-colour screen. It doesn’t come with Bluetooth or voice commands, but is packed with new features never seen before on a Sony Ericsson GSM handset - like polyphonic tones and an exchangeable front cover.
Probably what’s most unique about the T300 is its shape. It takes on a rectangular prism-like form, where its edges are smoothened off so it has rounded corners all over. All six faces of the phone are pretty much flat - where many may find the T300 looking, literally, a bit like a brick.
Irrespective of its very simple curves, the phone does come with several improvements that will enhance the user experience. First of all, the height of the keypad from the front cover has been raised slightly while the actual keys themselves are now stiffer in comparison to the T68i - with the end result being easier-to-press buttons. The T300’s thicker form factor helps in this as well - making the phone easier to hold. These improvements are greatly realised when a user does a lot of messaging with T9 enabled.
A revised version of the 5-way navigational joystick has been incorporated as well, alleviating the problem of accidental joystick movements either in the hand or the pocket (while the keylock is off). Being levelled at the same height as the front cover, the new 5-way joystick becomes unsusceptible to those unintentional movements.
Lastly, the T300 uses an internal battery design - being similar to that of other Sony Ericsson models.
User Interface & display
The typical T68i colour-based interface has been maintained and used on the T300 - an iconic main menu screen and lists for deeper menu levels. When I browsed the phone’s menus and functions, I felt that the speed and reaction times being improved dramatically to the likes of the original T68m/T68i.
A 256-colour display has been retained for the T300 model, being the same (if not similar) to the one used on the T68i. I wonder why Sony Ericsson never considered getting something a bit more interesting since the phone does support MMS?!
And you won’t find a service light on the T300. Instead, a light indicating low battery and charging statuses is located at the top right-hand corner.
Making and receiving calls
This is one area of the T300 that I was most impressed with. One of the very first things that I tried out on this phone was the performance of its polyphonic speaker in playing those MIDI tones. To my amazement, they virtually sounded like if they were played with my PC’s speakers - very clear and sharp audio. Only if the volume of these polyphonic tones were slightly louder, it would have been perfect! (see “Problems/issues” for more information).
On realising this, it was no surprise to me that the audio quality for calls was as similarly impressive. Both phone functions share the use of the same earpiece speaker, with the exception of the standard monophonic ringtones that are played through its own ringer.
On this aspect, there are a couple of differences that the T300 possesses in comparison to the T68m/T68i.
Although the T300 comes equipped with the T9 predictive text input system, there is a slight change in how an alternative word (or candidate) is chosen. Instead of pressing the “0” (zero) button after typing the sequence of words to find the appropriate one - which doesn’t work anymore, you will now have to pick from a list of possible words displayed on the screen momentarily after a word has been completed. To choose from here, you will need to use the 5-way joystick to move the selector highlight up or down the list, and select the appropriate word by depressing on it.
And if you’ve used a T68m/T68i to compose messages before, you will be glad to know that the T300 improves on the speed it is able to accept keystrokes and output them. Even though this may not be as immediate, all keystrokes are buffered correctly by the phone without fail, unalike its aforementioned predecessor.
Sony Ericsson handsets are usually quite well built, and the T300 is no exception. Even with the removable front cover and keypad design, the phone feels as if nothing is meant to be removed.
Average talk and standby times on the T300 were quite reasonable - with around 3-4 hours worth of talk time and up to 3-5 days standby. Again, if you tend to use the display a lot, you will find standby times coming down a bit more than non-colour phones based on the amount of usage.