More than half a year after the market received the T610, Sony Ericsson have come back for a second try with the T630. Trying to correct the faults that were noticed the world round on the T610 the T630 performs well in most areas that its predecessor didn’t. Many things have been corrected - but with his have more problems been created? To find out in my opinion you’re going to have to read on!
The T630 has most of the features that we saw in the T610, but they have been improved and/or upgraded. The display is one main thing that’s received an upgrade, but is still the same size that I quite like, 128 x 160 pixels and still at a groovy 65 thousand colours. The camera situated on the back of the phone is the same as that in the T610. Everything we all love like MMS messages, e-mail support, coloured themes, Java and Mophun games, and all that’s in-between.
Only a few things are really new in the T630, but they are outstanding. Firstly, you will notice the whole new colour change of the externals of the handset. I received the frosted white version of the T630, which I defiantly am a fan of. The concept is simple and easy on the eyes. Whites and light greys with frosted buttons and sparkly sides just top everything off - from the outside in. The T630 is also available in a black version which I’m sure is very sophisticated also. Sony Ericsson designers sure to get a big well done from me in this area.
Another big improvement is the display type. T610 users would have noticed that there were serious sun-related issues with the display - this has been corrected in the T630. A TFT LCD display has this time round made it in, resolving the visibility issue. The size of the display is still the same, a cool 128 x 160 pixels and at 65,536 colours. Size of the display was never really a concern with T610 users, and I think that this size matches perfectly with the price range and overall feature list of the phone.
The fun bits that we found in the T610 like MMS messages, polyphonic tones, Java games and Mophun games all make a re-appearance. The T630 can also be used to send and receive e-mail messages, along with the basic SMS and EMS messages. You’re never out of the loop with all these messaging formats!
The built in camera on the back of the T630 enables you to catch some happy snaps and then e-mail or MMS them over to anyone you wish. With effects you can add to the photos and a basic editing application you can change the photos around on your phone right there and then.
Connection to the mobile world can be done over GPRS and connecting the T630 to a computer or laptop can be done with Bluetooth, Infrared or a data-cable. To connect to another mobile device you can choose between Bluetooth and infrared - most phones support these two now so sending files and receiving anything else should be a walk in the park hand in hand with the T630.
For more about the T630’s camera check out the Camera Performance section of this article along with the Major Features section for more on the other features that appear in the T630.
I’ve gone over the T630’s new external looks a little, but now into more detail. The main colours are smooth white, sparkly silver and stylish chrome. A translucent plastic coating the top of the T630 with the printed “Sony Ericsson” words also add to this classy look. The overall size and weight of the handset is around 92.5 grams 102 x 43 x 17mm. It’s a nice size, and most certainly isn’t too big for your pocket or hand bag, whichever you use.
From the front you can see the see-through plastic coating on top and round the display and see how it brings out the display, and whilst doing that frames it quite nicely. Under the display are the frosted plastic keys, with the chrome directional stick. The outer square of the directional stick is also chrome, with white box labels. Black labels in the keys ensure you won’t forget what key does what ;) Around the front of the T630 and curling up over the top and around to the back is the white plastic. Smooth curves at the top of the handset and on the sides accomplish a great overall physical look.
On the back the Sony Ericsson circular logo is displayed first from the top, then under that is the camera lens, with optional input next to it. Just under the lens is an arrow pointing to the chrome window where you can make sure you look just perfect for those not so candid moments. Framed with four silver corner bars the back of the phone looks as good as the front. Sony Ericsson have planted their name on the left side of the phone vertically in silver.
Around the bottom of the phone and up the sides, but stopping at the top is the grey sparkly area I was talking about earlier. So the phone doesn’t blow you away with an all-white look, the grey contrasts nicely and takes all of the focus off the white. Three buttons on the left side and one “ >> Online” button the right are in chrome, which match with the grey background. At the bottom of the handset the input connectors are located with the gold pins.
The buttons on the left side from top to bottom are the shortcut to the camera, and the up and down volume buttons. On the left the “>> Online” button will do just as the name suggests, go online. An easy way to start browsing WAP pages without going through the menu.
The wrist strap doesn’t have an insert on the external of the phone; it hides under the removable back plate. Once it has been slid off you will see a protruding piece of plastic that it the perfect size for the loop of the wrist strap to fit in. Push it on, then replace the back cover and the strap will stay in place. Be careful when you remove the back covering again - the wrist strap is most likely to come off and jump down to the floor.
User Interface & display
The display on the T630 as you would already know has been boosted up to TFT, so yes it is viewable in the bright sun. It is also very much visible in the dark, with the backlight lighting up the whole room if you’re using it in the night. At 65,536 colour and 128 x 160 pixels, the T630’s display is the much needed improvement on the T610. The familiar 12 icon menu is back, with a replaced icon for “My Friends.” This function enables you to chat to your friends using a similar phone in almost real time, much like messaging systems on PC’s over the internet. The submenus on the main menu have icons that give you an idea of what’s inside - a screwdriver for settings, camera for the camera application etcetera. These cannot be changed, but why would you want to?
The display acts as the viewfinder for the inbuilt camera, so having 65k colours is a great advantage. You can’t see images at their full size, but you can get a pretty good idea on the 128 x 160 pixel display.
Starting up the phone you may first be greeted with a PIN code insert page, otherwise the start-up show will play on the screen accompanied with the default Sony Ericsson start-up sound. Once your network is found and your phone registered back onto the network you’re all set to use the T630.
The UI of the T630 is the same as the T610’s with its little improvements. If you’ve used the T610 or other Sony Ericsson models with an icon main menu you’ll get familiar quickly and have no trouble using the handset. When the keypad is idle, the left selection key will jump to your recent calls, and the right will jump to the “more” menu, which is one of my favorite features on the T630. Without having to open any menu’s you can quickly turn on the silent mode, enable or disable Bluetooth or Infrared, post a note on the display, lock the phone or even view the phones status. Pressing the menu key and the star button will lock the display.
To get to the main menu pressing down the directional stick is all you need to do. This stick is then used to browse around menus - it can move up, down, left, right, and inwards. When the phone is idle and you move the directional stick to the left a new SMS message will open, just like if you move it to the right the menu will open. Moving it up will go to the “My Friends” feature, and pushing it down goes straight to the phone book where pressing select on a contact will call them straight away.
Making and receiving calls
Who would have guessed that the T630 would be able to receive incoming and make outgoing calls along with all the other spunky features? It’s true; it can make and receive calls as well.
Audio quality and volume was great with the T630, I couldn’t pick out anything that needs to be commented on. The microphone is located underneath the headset icon at the bottom of the phone, it’s the small indentation. Having the microphone here will catch your voice whether you’re using the phone on your left or right ear; it’s in just the right position. The T630 is also quite comfortable, a nice overall size.
This shouldn’t really need explaining, but for those who don’t know: From the main display when the keypad is unlocked, you can simply enter a number and then press the left selection button to call that particular number. If the number is in the phone book the name of the call will change to that contacts name when the T630 puts two and two together. If you’ve got someone in your contacts that you feel needs to be called but can’t quite remember their phone number(s), never fear for the Phone Book was invented long ago. Pressing the directional stick in and then down to “Contacts” you will have to select “Call Contact” and then type in a bit of the name of the person you wish to call. Press search, and your contact will come up. Pressing the left selection key will start the call.
The T630 doesn’t have pick up/hang up buttons like most phones, but they aren’t really needed. The T630 makes use with the two left and right selection keys that act as those keys when needed. The T630 however does have volume controls on the side of the phone, so you don’t have to move the joystick to adjust audio volume. Up volume is second from the top on the left side of the handset, the down button is underneath that.
The phone book on this handset by Sony Ericsson has picture support, so you can attach images to your contacts details. When that contact calls the picture will display along with the name of the caller - very cool.
Sending and receiving almost every format of messaging available today, the T630 covers all corners. MMS messages, along with SMS and EMS are all supported, including the support for sending and receiving e-mail messages from user-specified accounts. You’ll always be contactable (That’s a good thing, right?) when you’re friends with the T630.
SMS messages can be extra long, and an alert will pop up when you have reached the limit and are continuing onto two or three SMS messages. The normal SMS message is 160 characters, but with extra-long support you can have up around 480 characters - you can say much more than the average SMS now! EMS messages are SMS messages with a little bit extra on the site. You can attach little black and white pictures or animations, some of which are included on the T630 already for your use. SMS and EMS messages can be sent and received on the T630 - as we would expect!
MMS messages, that can be sent to e-mail addresses or directly to another mobile handset have support on the T630 for images, sounds, text, and recorded sounds like your voice. MMS messages can contain around 1000 characters along with an image and/or sound clip of your choice. Images can be obtained from the gallery pre-installed, or you can take your own using the T630’s camera. When you’ve finished creating your message in the easy to use editor under the “Picture” submenu in the main messages menu you can then send off your MMS message. Remember to set up GPRS and MMS before you try and send off any messages!
E-mail is something that I defiantly like in mobile phones. With almost every person having at least one e-mail account, most people can be contacted by e-mail. Some people even like being contacted by e-mail rather than any other method of communication. This is the digital age, so why not support something everyone uses in a mobile handset. Sony Ericsson seem to have taken this onboard along with many other manufacturers and places support for both sending and receiving e-mails. The data is sent and received over GPRS, which is somewhat inexpensive. You can have a few e-mail accounts on the T630, and they only take a few minutes to set up once you have all the details needed.
Quite slow if I do say so myself T9 Dictionaries are included for most text input boxes on the T630. If you type fast like I do, expect delays in the phones response to key presses. However, if you’re like my Mum and type quite slow - you won’t notice the difference. For me however being a speed freak I need a phone that can catch up with me when typing messages!
Connecting a phone these days is easier than saying the ABC. With all these connectivity options like Bluetooth, Infrared, and USB data-cable (all of which are supported on the T630) you’re most of the time able to connect your phone to a PC/laptop or another device in an instant. Bluetooth is the newest in the bunch, short range wireless radio waves that enable technological freedom. Infrared is an older option that was only until recently seen in only up-market phones, but has made it’s way down to heaps more phones. Its range is much shorter than Bluetooth and the devices must be ‘looking’ at each other for a connection to work. Data-cable is just that, a cable connected to the bottom of the phone and then to a PC which enables data-transfers.
To turn on Infrared/Bluetooth or set up other connection settings you can just browse to the “Connectivity” menu and then select what you want. I like how you can activate Infrared for 10 minutes, and then after that time it will turn itself off again. Bluetooth sub-menus include the My Devices folder with all paired devices located inside, and a special Hands free folder that contains any paired headsets. Options are there for you to configure and have a play around with.
If you’re looking to connect to the mobile internet and browse WAP pages, this can be set up from this menu as well. The “Data Comm.” Folder has all accounts that you might want to use and enables you to create one if your service provider isn’t listed. Once this is set up you’re ready to press the “>> Online” button and make yourself known in the WAP world! ;)
For more information about WAP, Bluetooth, Infrared and GPRS in the T630 head on over to the Major Features section of my article.
Build quality of the T630 was great; I especially liked the way that the back cover (the only removable part on the phone) has rails so that it stays in place nicely. To remove it is simple; just push in a top part of the cover and push down! The battery is then removed with some difficulty; you can read about that in the Problems and Issues section of this article.
Quite a sturdy phone, the buttons may be a little hard for some users, much like the buttons in the Nokia 5100. Aside from the first feeling that they’re a little harder than most phones, they will grow on you and you won’t notice it anymore. The directional stick shouldn’t cause too many problems, not much can really go wrong with it!
The SIM card has a simple slider that slots onto the top of the card once it’s in place. It’s not that hard to get down but you’ve got to push it down straight or it’ll be off to the side. This might not make much sense now but it will if you see the T630 in the flesh.
Battery life was reasonable on the T630, I never really ran out of battery except when excessively using the camera which is to be expected on any phone! The battery used is a 770mAh lithium-ion battery and you can get approximately 840 minutes talk time and about 315 hours standby time.
The charging port of the T630 I find is a little bit of a trick to get in and out properly. Having had quite a few Sony Ericsson phones in the past, I’ve got used to inserting the charger at an angle and removing it by pushing it down. New users may find this a little tricky - so be prepared ;)