I have used and trusted Sony Ericsson for the majority of my cell phone usage career. Starting with the T616 and moving onto the W810i, I grew used to the classic Sony Ericsson candy bar design. The W810i was a great music player for a good two years until I decided to jump on the Apple bandwagon and purchased an iPod as my primary mobile music player. The iPod effectively replaced the need for the W810i, a cell phone focused on music playback. I also realized the growing popularity (and ease) of text messaging to communicate. Above all, the flashiness of the cell phone’s design would be of importance.
Thus, I was on the market searching for a cell phone that had a candy bar design, easy-to-use keypad, and sleek design. The Sony Ericsson K850i was the answer.
I purchased the K850i for $150 at a T-mobile store with a two-year contract. The list price is $399.99. The K850i can be used with any GSM carrier that uses SIM cards including T-mobile and AT&T. Please note that CDMA carries such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS are not supported.
In one word, the K850i is sleek. The phone itself is black and has a strip of color around its sides. There is also a strip of color on the directional keys (d-pad), which frames the “2” and “5” keys in an original ring design. The K850i comes in two vibrant shades - velvet blue and luminous green. The blue option has a darkish hue compared to the green. Personally, I chose the green and have received several “wows” at the brightness of the color and how much it stands out.
The screen is 2.2" diagonal with a resolution of 240 x 320. It supports both portrait and landscape viewing modes and has a 262k color TFT LCD display. At just 4.2 ounces, the K850i is light, but durable.
The keypad is unique, having single buttons instead of connected keypads on traditional cell phones. Each button is separated from the other keys, allowing users with large fingers to easily access each and every one without the frequent need to hit the backspace. The K850i also contains the useful lock feature found in all Sony Ericsson candy bar phones, which prevents any keys to be pressed unless for emergencies (to 911 or 112).
The power button is located on top of the phone, away from the keys so users will never turn off their phone by accident. On the right side of the phone, the camera controls are in place. There is a professional looking power button for the camera, zoom-in and zoom-out buttons, and a scroll-through button to choose between camera, video, or album.
The bottom of the phone is home to the battery, Memory Stick Micro (M2) and MicroSD memory card slot, and SIM card compartments. This design is unique and doesn’t clutter the back of the K850i. The dual expansion memory slot offers users essentially an unlimited amount of storage space for photos, music, and texts in addition to the 40 MB that is native to the K850i.
The entire backing is a glossy black. Housing the impressive 5 Megapixel camera and LED pre-focus flash, the K850i’s back is stunningly gorgeous. Upon examination, the K50i lives up to its name as a camera-phone. Its back design marks instant recognition of the K850i as a camera rather than a cell phone. As an upgrade of the previous K800 and K790 Cybershot models, the K850i’s camera does not bulge out in the back. The surface is completely flat, making it a truly convenient gadget to carry without protruding from your pocket.
The camera itself is covered by a clear, plastic cover, which rests over a retractable lens. To the left of the lens is the Xenon flash. To the right is the speaker slit. After a year of use, the plastic cover is still clear and dust-free. However, the glossy surface of the back yields an alarming amount of fingerprints daily. Fortunately, a simple wipe will do the trick for the most part.
When the camera is in use, four keys on the number pad turn into the settings keys for the camera. Images that are lit by blue backlighting appear, offering a multitude of features for users.
Perhaps, the most surprising feature of the K850i was the touch screen menu keys. Before you get too excited, only three menu keys (Media, Menu, Contact from left to right) on the screen are touch-sensitive. This feature deviates from conventional cell phone design that dictates the pressing into menus be done by an enter key. However, before calling this an innovative feature, I cannot help but think of this feature as a direct rip from the iPod Touch and iPhone design.
Another feature that is reminiscent of the aforementioned products is the built-in accelerometer. Although it adds a new dimension to the Java-based games available on the K850i, the accelerometer is less refined that the one found on the iPod Touch / iPhone. In multiple games, I found that the accelerometer was buggy, lacked precision, and had a slow response time.
Besides being a camera-phone (whose specifications and capabilities will be discussed in the Camera section of this review), the K850i contains the same media playing software as Sony Ericsson’s Walkman series, which includes the W810i. Users will be able to enjoy their favorite music on the go with the same features as the Walkman series phones.
The K850i also contains the usual standard features, including speed dial, voice dialing, call photo ID and unique ringtones, and smart search (entering the first letters of a contact to bring up matching and related contacts to call or text).
Users may able connect to their computers to backup their contacts and files (including photos, music, etc.). All music files in the popular music formats (mp3, m4a, etc.) may be used as ringtones or custom caller ID’s. Sony Ericsson’s phone software for PC is simple and intuitive to use and serves as a great backup utility.
For texting, users may use the normal multiple press system or the T9 dictionary. The T9 system takes a while to learn but becomes very intuitive. I prefer using the T9 to text rather than a traditional Qwerty keypad. Texts may be saved to the phone memory or the memory card. Although Sony Ericsson does not quote a maximum text storage amount on the phone, I have reached approximately 11,000 texts before needing to backup and delete them all from my phone to be able to send and receive texts again. Yes, I text a lot.
Data and Reception
The Sony Ericsson K850i supports quad band 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM and uses Edge and worldwide 3G for data.
I’ve had good reception with the K850i. The earpiece volume is adjustable as well as the speaker volume. I have found that the earpiece is much clearer than the speaker, but the speaker has a much louder max volume than the earpiece.
On music playback, the speaker is clear, but accompanying bass tends to be muddled with the main melody. I highly suggest using the included stereo ear buds with mic for music. The ear buds also double as the radio receiver.
The K850i has a high-end camera installed. Many phones out in the market today still cannot match the resolutions and quality that the K850i puts out. Photos have a maximum resolution of 2592 x 1944 at 5 Megapixels while video at QVGA resolution is 320 x 240 with 30 fps (frames per second). The 16x digital zoom is an added bonus.
I’ve found the flash to be extremely convenient, especially as a backup flashlight in tight situations.
Syncing and Sharing
The K850i has a native Bluetooth and Infrared syncing options. I was easily able to sync files between my phone and my laptop without any cables. The Bluetooth has good connectivity and range (I’ve used it to sync from one room apart).
As advertised, the K850i’s 930 mAh Lithium Ion battery lasts up to nine hours of GSM talk time and up to 400 hours of standby time.
In my experience, I’ve had to recharge the phone every two or three days. On the average day, I talk an hour or so and send and receive 50 or 60 texts. I only use the camera for the occasional photo.
This is my Electronics entry into the Around Epinions In 80 Days Write-Off.
Read all 2 Reviews
Write a Review
Amount Paid (US$): 150 w/ plan
Recommended for: Stylish Trendsetters - Hip and Trendy