Announced simultaneously around the globe, the upgrade to the P800, the P900 has hit the market in all its glory early this year. This anticipated handset has compiled together all the things missing from the P800 in a neat new dark blue and silver package. Sony Ericsson sure have delivered with the P900, on the outside and defiantly on the inside.
This review comes almost a year after we at iMobile.com.au reviewed the P800, so why not read both articles and see whatís changed in this handset from Sony Ericsson, where the two manufacturers combined as one have really supplied a great handset, with what I think is one of the largest manuals I have seen. =)
At first glance of the phone in any situation you will have to notice the huge LCD display - you canít miss it. It takes up almost the whole of the front of the P900, and itís where all the action takes place. Combining 65 thousand colours with a 208 x 320 pixel resolution, this display is a big advancement from the 4,096 colour display in the P800. The TFT LCD display is also touch sensitive in conjunction with the Stylus, so you can take full control of your phone. When you donít want to remove the Stylus, the removable keypad flip comes in handy.
Because there are no directional keys on the P900ís keypad, you use the jog-dial on the left side of the handset to move up or down the menus. However, this is a dial with a difference; it can be pushed in, back, and forward! All these different ways of using the jog-dial perform different functions, so read deeper into the article for all the information you need. ;)
Another outstanding feature is the VGA camera on the P900. The picture quality is wonderful, and the camera can capture video as well with no limit except as far as the memory card/internal memory will go. The memory card supported is in Memory Stick Duo format, manufactured by Sony. A 32mB card is included to get you started.
Internally the P900 uses Symbian OS 7.0, with a UIQ interface enabling the use of the stylus, one of the best ideas for a phone that Iíve seen. The P900 has everything any kind of user would want for a handset today, and more.
The P900 has changed quite a bit when compared to the P800. The almost translucent soft blue colour has been ditched, and silver with a dark navy blue look has jumped on board. The phone looks more sophisticated like this I believe, and fashion is always important ;) The silver part on the side of the phone is also smaller than that on the P800, and so is the keypad.
The rounded edges, placement of the two LEDís (blue for Bluetooth, excuse the pun; and yellow for other indication) make the P900 have an eye-catching design. The silver plastic wraps around the phone to the back (the sides are this colour) and then the navy blue appears again around the camera and removable back cover. The cover is silver, with the expected Sony Ericsson logo at the bottom, indented. Rubber stoppers are attached to the battery cover so the phone wonít slide away when placed down. There is a chrome viewing mirror on the back of the phone too, just underneath the VGA camera - for great self-shots.
One physical aspect of the P900 can be changed - the keypad. If you donít want it on, and wish to use the stylus all the time, a supplied screw driver and replacement cover is included in the sales package for you. You can change between having it on and off however many times you want - just be sure to be careful and not loose the mini-screws! Two spares are included however, just in case.
Personally, I liked to have the keypad on during my trial, because writing messages was just much faster, and thatís what I mainly use my phones for. Writing is great, but sometimes slow. However, only some features are able to be utilized with the keypad closed. The keypad also somewhat protects the main display if youíre thinking about it that way. Streak marks may occur from using the stylus, so if you want the display clear at all times maybe carry around the supplied cleaning cloth ;).
When the keypad is off, you can enable a feature called Virtual Flip. If you want to use the phone like you would with the flip on but donít want to physically attach the flip, just press the button on the taskbar. The stylus is used to press the buttons like you would with your fingers. The virtual flip is good to make calls with when you have to input the number, because otherwise you will have to go via the phone book, and into a sub-function. They keypad replacement is the dark navy blue colour like the rest of the phone, and the keypad is the silver colour used throughout the phone handset.
On the left and right side of the phone are some of the fun bits! ;) On the left side youíll find the grey jog-dial, the headphone insert port, and the infrared port next to the on/off button. Switch over the right side and youíll find the camera button, and the WAP launch button. Just under that is the memory expansion slot, using Memory Stick Duo. The flap is made of hard plastic and secured in place, so you wonít loose it and your Memory Stick Duo too!
The wrist strap is located near the battery at the bottom of the handset again, unfortunately. Who wants to hold a phone upside down? Not me - something for
The P900 is one of the larger handsets on the market, being 115 x 57 x 24 mm, and weighing just under 160g with the flip on, and 148 with the flip off. I really didnít mind the weight and size, because the features of the phone sure do make up for any size or weight related problems. All that matters is what youíre comfortable with =)
User Interface & display
Before I go onto the User interface and Stylus use, something must be brought up about the display on the P900. Besides from being touch-sensitive and absolutely massive, with 65,536 colours, the P900ís display is also protected by a thin film. No scratches can occur accidentally, a letter opener was put against the display and moved, and nothing besides from a streak which is wiped away with the cleaning cloth or your finger. Unless you want to test it further with something like a knife, I trust that youíll take my word in saying that the P900ís 208 x 320 pixel display is protected. =)
Turning on the phone is even fun. Start-up and shutdown shows capture you immediately - the rest is just a delight.
Moving onto the user interface, firstly when the flip is closed/using the virtual flip. Only limited functions on the application list can be used here. Things like the camera, phone book, messages, sound recorder, calendar and others can be used though. You can get to the list of application usable with the flip closed by pressing the Ďoptionsí button or pushing the jog-dial upwards and pressing the ĎOKí button.
Once youíve opened the flip, the stylus (or even your finger, if itís small enough) takes control. All input must be made by the stylus when the flip is open, the keypad becomes useless. The stylus is located just behind the blinking yellow light; the top of the stylus is proportionated so you can just lift it up. When you close the flip again you will be returned to the standby screen. To get to applications, all you have to do is tap the four blue circles in the right corner of the display, and a whole list will open. The other icons at the top of the screen are different functions, like messages, contacts, phone, and web browser. Some of these icons can be changed, for example so I donít accidentally connect to WAP and have to pay GPRS costs, so I changed the web browser icon to the CommuniCorder - the camera function on the P900.
If youíve used a PDA before or any other type of touch-screen device you will most probably understand how to use the stylus and the P900 in conjunction with more ease, although others who havenít should have too much trouble. Using the P900 is pretty straight-forward, and if not you can open the very thorough and very large manual that has everything explained in detail.
A Symbian OS is used in the P900, which runs the whole phone like Linux/Windows/Apple would run a PC. Symbian v7.0 is used in conjunction with UIQ 2.0, which enables the use of a stylus. Symbian operating systems are much more user friendly than some other systems, and are very expandable. Applications downloaded onto your computer and then put onto the P900 enhance your phone - thatís if you need to! =)
The Jotter application is great for quickly scribbling down things like maps or phone numbers. You can draw doodles with the stylus, or handwrite letters and it will be converted to text in the text side of the Jotter application. Lots of other fun applications can be found pre-installed when you use the P900, like the music player, and video/picture viewer.
I donít think there is one bad thing anyone could say about the display on the P900. Itís big, itís bright, itís got thousands of colours, and itís an advancement on the display used in the P800. It is an LCD TFT display, so precise image quality and sharpness is something to be expected. I havenít used another phone in my time with iMobile.com.au with such a great display.
You will mainly need the stylus for everything you do on the P900. Unlike other models with a Symbian interface that only use a joystick or directional keys, the P900 is aimed at a user that has both hands free for use of the handset. I found this a little bit of a problem having to get out the stylus every time I wanted to do something, and ended up doing things like locking the keypad (flip removed) with my big finger. I donít really have a personal preference on weather or not real buttons or virtual ones are better, I didnít mind using either. =)
Making and receiving calls
You can make and receive calls several ways on the P900. Holding the phone to your ear, using it hands free with the inbuilt speakerphone or hands free kit included in the sales package, or by using a Bluetooth headset or car-kit. The quality of the headset was good, being stereo. Three things I had problems with were the amount of noise from the microphone heard in the earpiece, the way in which you have to enter numbers when the flip is open, and the accidental presses of functions when in calls. Other than that, everything went well in my trial!
To enter a phone number when the flip is closed, just unlock the keypad (Ďokí button and then Ď*í button), and press in the number and press okay. To answer a call when the flip is closed and in standby mode, just press okay, or Ďcí to reject the call.
To call a number when the phone has the flip open or removed, you will have to go into the ĎPhoneí function (third icon at the top) and then press the icon that has little keys on it. The number window will open where you can tap in the number and press okay. You can also just enable the virtual flip and then key in the number, whichever you want. This can be a hassle, and was to me when I needed to call someone quickly but couldnít, because I had to go through a menu. To call a number in your phone book, just go to the ĎContactsí menu (second icon at the top) and tap the name you want. Then tap the number and youíre off!
When the flip is open, or the keypad removed, pressing one of the buttons that appear when the phone rings will start or reject a call. When someone calls, the name (and picture if set) shows up, and two buttons. Accept Call, or Reject/Divert call. Tap one of the two, or any other thing you want to start/end a call. One of my problems arose here, when making calls with the flip removed/down - every so often I would move my face to be comfortable and my ear/face would hit the screen, and make the tapping noise. I tried to see if you could lock the keypad when in call, but unfortunately you canít! Holding the P900 slightly off my face was the only way to go without getting irritated =)
When youíre in your contacts you can quickly jump to a name like seen in many phones on the market. If I wanted to go to a contact named ĎReece,í I could just press ĎRí and then it would jump to all my contacts that have Ďrí as the first letter. All your friends are only the touch of a button/tap of a stylus away. =)
To answer a call when the stereo headset is attached, just press the button on the headset cord. When a Bluetooth earpiece or car kit is used, refer to the user manual for more information about making and receiving calls. Bluetooth is a great way to make and receive calls, because you donít necessarily have to have the phone in your hand or on your face to talk to someone.
A cover over the camera lens has been included in the P900, because it was a problem with the P800 getting dirt inside. Now, if your hand is big enough like mine you wonít have to refrain from holding the phone with your finger near the camera lens. =)
Messaging services available on the P900 are e-mail, MMS, SMS, long SMS, and EMS. When you have the flip open, the stylus can be used to write messages, along with the virtual keyboard. T9 is only supported when the flip is closed and you are inserting text into a message or the jotter.
The handwriting recognition software included in the P900 is the CICs JotPro, but more can be downloaded off the internet so the phone will know how you write, and you wonít have to learn to write how the phone wants you to. The JotPro system is quite well designed, because it supports more than one movement/stroke to become one letter/character. This means a vertical line and a dot above it will make an ĎIí, and a vertical line with a dot below will make a Ď!í. Crossing Ďtís is also easier, because the phone will firstly recognize your vertical stroke as an Ďlí, but once you cross it, it will convert to a Ďtí.
Like seen in the P800, text input boxes on the P900 support the whole screen. You donít have to write in a certain little box, the screen is divided into two. The top half is for numbers and other characters, the middle where a black triangle will appear is for uppercase letters, and the bottom of the screen under the triangle is for lowercase letters and characters. When you are writing a letter in the uppercase section, you can still draw it in lowercase if that helps. The software will convert it from lowercase to uppercase before it is displayed. For example drawing Ďaí on the very middle of the display (uppercase section), will result in ĎAí being shown on screen.
If you canít find a specific character, press the keyboard icon at the bottom of the screen to open a little keyboard, where you can select your letter or special character by pressing it with the stylus. It will be inserted into your text box or message window.
When the flip is closed or the virtual flip is enabled, messages can be inputted using a T9 dictionary. I find writing messages is much faster using the keypad flip, because of T9 and no need to move the stylus with your hand and hold it with the other, just both hands on the keys. Other functions I prefer the stylus, so it all weighs out.
You can send MMS messages on the P900, and the MMS creator on this handset is what I think is one of the best. Pressing icons will give you a menu from which you can add different aspects of the message, like images, video, text, and even audio if you want to. Then when itís all done you can preview it and then send it off to an e-mail address or another phone. SMS messages can also be sent, along with extra-long ones, so you can say everything you need to in more than one message which will join when sent to someone. If youíre like me and have a lot to day, extra-long SMS is the way to go! EMS messages can be sent too, with little pictures, even animated ones!
A full messaging experience is available for you to use on the P900.
Using the P900 you can connect to other devices using Bluetooth, Infrared, and a data-cable (Sync Station) and you can connect to the information service known as WAP over a GPRS connection.
Bluetooth enables wireless freedom with a range of devices that are being released on the market daily. Something new is coming out all the time and youíre bound to found something you like. Currently you can connect Car Kits using Bluetooth, headsets, even racing cars, like the Sony Ericsson CAR-100. Bluetooth just rids you of wires, which is something everyone will appreciate. Infrared can also be used to connect to a PC or send files to another phone or other Infrared device, however when using infrared the two ports must be aligned properly otherwise a connection wonít happen - with Bluetooth you donít get this problem.
The Sync Station included in the P900 sales package is a good idea, because you donít need a track down a store that will sell a data-cable or Sync Station for your phone. With this Sync Station you can charge and synchronise your phone at the same time, along with download files phone the Phone Memory and External Memory, and move files onto either of these Memory Sources.
High-speed WAP 1.2.1/2.0 is available over GPRS, once it has been set up from your provider or manually. You can even set up GPRS and MMS settings by logging onto the Sony Ericsson website on your PC and browsing over to the ĎConfiguratorsí feature. The settings will be then sent to your phone! With WAP youíre able to browse an endless source of information, whenever you want to wherever you are (in GPRS supported areas of course). =)
The P900 has been built properly, and a lot of thought as gone into it. What has come out of this is a handset that is sturdy, looks good, and wonít fall apart. Sony Ericsson phones generally go well in this area, and the P900 is no different.
Iíve already explained how the display is somewhat scratch resistant, which is another plus for this section of the P900 article. Also, if you loose a stylus you can replace it with the spare one found in the Sales Package!
It feels solid as a rock and it wonít slip off surfaces with the rubber stoppers on the back of the handset, plus if you accidentally drop it on carpet or something it wonít explode into 40 thousand pieces. The weight of the handset also adds to this feeling of being well built.
The only easily removable part on the P900 is the battery cover, which is on the back of the phone. All you have to do is push down the top and slide it down. The battery will release itself and then the SIM card is easily removable and insertable. The keypad is removable as well, but you need to remove it with as screwdriver, and itís pretty well secured.
The battery life on the P900 is truly wonderful. Battery management and consumption is something that has really been looked at on the P900, and Sony Ericsson have done a really great job, well done to them! When the flip is open, you can press the battery icon and get a percentage value on battery life. Each day of using the P900 charged at 100% (charged over night) I only lost about 10-15%, and that was using the camera quite a bit, and capturing videos along with playing Solitaire and Chess.
You can attach the battery charger to the bottom of the Sync Station, so when you have the P900 on the Sync Station it will charge, along with do all kinds of other functions with your PC or laptop.
The battery in the P900 is a BST-15 1000mAh lithium-ion, which is larger compared to most phones anyway, but the P900 also has more functions that I would expect to be battery churning, but I was wrong! ;) The talk time on the P900 is around 16 hours, and standby time is about 480 hours. Once again, well done to Sony Ericsson.