Sony Ericsson G900 review
G900 is a new product from Sony Ericsson built on the UIQ platform. What’s interesting about this model is that it looks very similar to an ordinary cell phone, which is uncommon for smartphones of the company. There’s no QWERTY keyboard or the Jog Dial on the G900; when I gave it to my colleague, he even mistook the phone for a K530i.
The reason for such an unusual design is the company’s intention to sell the Sony Ericsson G900 as a smartphone for the masses who would use it first and foremost as a normal phone, while still having the option to use full smartphone features. G900 is a smartphone not only for geeks, but also for an average user, so to speak.
Despite its simple looks, the G900 is a full-fledged smartphone:
The phone has a strict look about it and is done in black graphite color. The only designer element is a textured grey stripe on the side; while it looks pretty interesting, I don’t think it fits the overall design very well.
The silver stripe adds some life to otherwise minimalistic look of the phone:
There aren’t too many additional keys – the power button is traditionally located at the top of the phone, the volume control is on the side and the block as well as camera buttons are located below it. On the opposite side, the stylus is tucked in; it too is simple-looking and fits the design of the phone well. Note however that you most likely won’t be using it much at all – unless you like using a stylus for one reason or another – since all operations can be performed without it.
Power, block and camera buttons are located on the right side:
The phone comes with a stylus, but you won’t be needing it much:
The G900 has a slot for a memory card:
There’s a secondary built-in camera located just above the screen, which is used for video calls (G900 is a UMTS phone). The main camera is a 5 Mpx one; the lens is traditionally located at the upper side of the back panel. There’s also a flash above it that can also be used as a flashlight – we’ll talk more about this later.
The phone has a 5 MPx camera and a flashlight:
At the bottom of the back panel, there’s a single speaker for ringtone playback, and a ridge under it so you will still be able to hear it even when you lay the phone on a flat surface. The FastPort is located at the bottom side of the phone. It has a small LED under it that shines green when the phone is charging, and red when the battery level is below 10%.
The green light indicates that the phone is being charged:
There are separate buttons for notes and messages on the keyboard, as well as your usual “back” and “C” keys. Below them is the phone keypad. The keys are pretty small and close to each other, but they’re very convenient and easy to use because of the elevation. There’s also the navigational wheel, which protrudes slightly from the keyboard and can be used for controling almost all functions of the phone without having to resort to using the touchscreen.
Like I mentioned before, the phone is made with simplicity and ease of use in mind, and you can perform most – if not all – functions without using the stylus.
Unlike in previous models built on the UIQ platform, there are several variations (so called “Standby applications”) of the desktop that you can choose between.
The first one is called “Business”. It puts a list called “Today” on the screen, which has recent events from the callendar, missed calls, tasks and things like that; below it, you have either 5 or 15 shortcuts to your most used functions. You might know it from P1i; it’s a familiar and rather convenient desktop arrangement.
The other one is the default of the phone, and personally I think it is much more interesting. There is a number of application icons located at the bottom of the screen in a single line, and you can choose the ones you want to be displayed there from a list. You can scroll through it by using the navigational wheel or just your finger on the touchscreen; the contents of the selected icon will be shown above. As you scroll through the icons, their content is displayed above, but it is inactive and darkened; if you select an icon at the bottom, the scroll becomes disabled and grayed out, but the contents are activated and you can browse through them. The default menu options include My Shortcuts, Favorite contacts (from where you can give a call or write a message straight away), Alarm, Reminders, Messages and of course the main menu.
You can access “My shortctuts” and “Favourite contacts” by using the menu at the bottom of the screen:
When a user sets up the G900 depending on the functions he uses most, there will be almost no need to ever use the traditional main menu at all, since all the important applications will be linked from the shortcut bar at the bottom for fast and easy access. To an extent, this might be considered an alternative to Nokia’s multimedia menu used in their new smartphones.
The main menu itself is a traditional 3×3 icon grid with choices like Applications and Settings; everything will be familiar to an owner of other Sony Ericsson models, so there’s no need to go into detailed descriptions here.
The standard features of the UIQ platform are still in the phone; you can, for example, access the connection and other settings by clicking the small indicators at the top of the screen with your stylus and so on. However, the new version of the platform has some downsides as well. First of all is the simplified Task Manager, which doesn’t let the user do much about the applications besides terminating them, and above all, doesn’t have the quick “go to desktop” option. To go to the standby mode now you will have to go deeper into the menus and perform way more clicks to achieve the same result.
The phone has fully featured multimedia player similar to that of Walkman models (like W950 or W960, for example) which has a separate menu choice all for itself – a good choice because you won’t have to search deep in the menus to find it. The blocking button deserves a praise as well; you will be able to use it no matter what application you are using or what menu you are in.
The player of G900 can also be launched from the shortcut bar:
The blocking button works no matter what task the phone is currently performing:
Now a few words about the camera, which regrettably doesn’t work too well in the prototype model that I tested. It has the autofocus feature, but works somewhat slow and the colors don’t look too good – but that will be fixed in the commercial version.
I also said I’d talk more about the flashlight, so there. The phone has a cool application called (you guessed it) “Flashlight” which lets you turn of the flash for one minute, for an unlimited time, or set it to send out SOS signals. Some older models had this feature but it’s not often that you see it.
The G900 turned out to be an interesting smartphone, easy to use for calls or writing messages as a normal phone, while retaining all the capabilities of Symbian UIQ. It’s a good product that will probably sell well. The G900 not a top model among the Sony communicators; the successors of the P1 and T5 are expected to come out towards the end of the year. This model should be great for people who need normal phone functions first and smartphone functions second.