The Good Sharp high-resolution color screen; lens cap and light light; good choice of camera options; Multimedia features including MP3 playback.
The Bad Bulky; made of slippery plastic; cumbersome rotary design that offers few advantages; no signs of life as soon as the screen turns off; low volume.
The Bottom Line Packing three different gadgets – your phone, camera, and music player – into one lump of plastic loses its appeal when you can’t put your device in your pocket. Despite its beautiful screen, high resolution camera and wide range of multimedia options, we couldn’t love the big S700i
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The Sony Ericsson S700i has a distinct personality. On the one hand, it is similar to the Sony Cyber-shot P Series camera, with a lens on one end, a modest handle on the other, and a shutter button at the top. Flip it over, rotate it 90 degrees, and it’s a mobile phone, with always visible short buttons and a rotating keyboard. It is difficult to say which side is the “front” and which “back”, because it depends on what you want to do.
The problem with this approach is that the S700i is large in every dimension. Unlike the Motorola Razr V3, which is wide but has very little depth, or the Nokia 7280, which is tall but not very wide, the S700i is above average in all three dimensions. This seems to be a phone with a camera attached to the back rather than a built-in one.
However, it is a more competent camera than you will find on most phones, with a 1.3MP sensor, lens cap, photo light and a dedicated shutter button. As for the phone, the S700i is a three-band model with a wide range of multimedia and data features, including music playback, web browsing and Bluetooth.
In April 2005, we found prices ranging from a free contract with £ 18 a month to a £ 275 SIM card.
Measuring 48 by 108 by 25 mm and weighing 132 g, the S700i is a Swedish troll, not a Japanese pixie. The case is made of slippery silver plastic that can be difficult to grip. Also prone to scuffs and scratches.
In the telephone part, the color display is 35 by 47 mm in size, 262 144 with a resolution of 240 by 360 pixels. This is the same resolution as the screens on most low- and mid-range PDAs, so it can display a lot of information. The icons and menus are colorful, delicately detailed and pleasing to the eye. The backlight is bright enough, but you have little control over it. It automatically shuts off about 5 seconds after you stop pressing the keys, and the screen itself shuts off in 20 seconds. You cannot set standby intervals, and when the screen turns off, you cannot tell whether the phone is asleep or dead.
In the area below the screen, there is a four-way navigation key with a center button to execute, two simple keys to select menu options, a back key, and an Delete key. The number keys are hidden under a 180 degree rotating screen. You can rotate it in any direction, but you have to rotate it back through the opposite arc – if you try to rotate the screen 360 degrees you will damage it.
The keypad locks automatically a few seconds after you stop pressing the keys and can be unlocked by sliding the spring switch to one side. Rotating the screen to detect the keyboard does not unlock the annoying key. In general, we didn’t like the twist: it’s a cumbersome job, doesn’t protect the screen, doesn’t protect all the keys, and the phone seems unnecessarily large.
On the side of the camera is a camera lens that is hidden behind two plastic doors that slide open when you work with the lens cap lock. The self-portrait mirror also sits behind the lens cap. Above the light lens is a light photo, underneath the speaker and on the other hand does not need a pen. The clutch protrudes by only 1 mm and is made of smooth plastic, so it is very small. When the phone is on the side, the shutter button is at the top, towards the end of the handle. If the keypad is unlocked, opening the lens cover activates the camera software.
Additional controls on the sides of the phone include volume up and down buttons, infrared, headset and charging sockets, and a Memory Stick slot. The S700i accepts small Memory Stick Duo cards up to 128 MB in size (they do not support larger Pro Duo cards).
The first time the S700i is powered on, the setup wizard asks you to select a language, explains the functions of the Back and Delete keys, and helps you set the time and date. Other settings can be applied through the Settings menu, which allows you to apply wallpapers and themes, change the startup screen and screen saver, and choose ringtones for polyphonic or true music (MP3).
The phone book can hold up to 510 contacts, each with multiple numbers, street address, email and web addresses, images, highlighted ringtone and notes. You can also set voice dialing for the selected contacts by recording short voice commands. Press and hold one of the volume buttons for the phone to respond to voice commands, or scroll completely by writing down the “magic word” that activates this feature. Options during a call include the loudspeaker and the call recording.
The 1.3 megapixel camera captures 1280 x 960 pixel photos and 176 x 144 pixel video clips. The photos have a good level of detail and acceptable colors, although bright highlights come out if the contrast is too large. The images are a bit noisy and sometimes feel woven, but they are above average for photos from your phone’s camera. The placement of camera-like controls allows you to keep your phone stable, which helps.
Camera options include burst mode, night mode, self-timer, special effects (negative, solarise, sepia, black & white), white balance (auto, incandescent, fluorescent, daylight, cloudy) and spot metering. You can also select a novelty frame before you shoot and have it applied to your photo. Video clips can be of unlimited length, or restricted to 10 seconds. The LED photo light helps with portraits and videos in the pub, although it’s no substitute for a flash.
Images and videos are automatically saved and can be reduced and sent by MMS or email. If your network operator has not set up your phone for you, visit the Sony Ericsson support site for help setting up.
After setting up your phone to access the Internet, you can go online by pressing the highlighted key. The high resolution screen is great for displaying web pages, but GPRS speed limitation makes browsing slow. The S700i also supports Java applications and comes with several games. The built-in media player supports MP3, MP4, 3GP and WAV files that you can store on your Memory Stick Duo. There is also an FM radio that uses the hands-free kit as an antenna. You can save up to 20 stations as presets.
Organizer features include a calendar, to-do list, notes, alarm, countdown timer, stopwatch, calculator, and a code storage area that stores up to ten secret codes (such as credit card numbers) under one PIN.
The ringtone was clear, but not particularly loud, even at maximum volume. The sound in the loudspeaker is also clear, but you do not want the phone to be more than 0.5 meters away from your ear. One way or another, the S700i cannot match the high volume sound of the Nokia 6630. We had no difficulty in pairing the S700i with the Sony Ericsson HBH-300 Bluetooth headset.
Edited by Michael Parsons
Additional editing by Nick Hade