Geeks.com were very generous to send us in one of Sony Ericsson’s best sellers: the very popular K700i. We took it for a quick spin and here is our mini-review. The phone sports a 176x220x65k color TFT, 64 MB internal storage (41 MB available for usage) a VGA camera with video recording capabilities, a flashlight and night mode, Bluetooth, IrDA, MMS support, 40-voice polyphonic ring, tri-band, Java MIDP-2 games, FM radio, Mp3 and .3gp media player, email client, WAP/XHTML web browser (OSNews renders pretty well both in its WAP and its cHTML versions), speed and voice dialing, chatting, voice recorder, speaker phone, themes, calculator, calendar, alarm, stopwatch and picture phone book (512 contacts limit). The phone features a 700 mAh battery and it came with the latest ROM in it (no need for any software upgrade).
The package includes a lanyard (though I could not find where to attach it on the phone), manuals, software CD, a handsfree kit (with 2 earbuds, it also works as an FM radio headphone), the power adaptor and the phone itself. The phone has a medium-to-small size compared to what’s on the market right now. In my tests, battery life lasted about 6 hours under heavy use: making phone calls, playing games, playing-back mp3s and using the FM radio. According to the manufacturer, the phone has more than 10 days of stand-by battery life. An early ROM version had a bug where the phone would report low battery status while it still had quite some left, but the bug does not seem to exist anymore in this latest ROM version (“RZAY004”).
The phone feels very good in the hand, however people with larger fingers might encounter a bit of trouble at first with dialing quickly. The joystick is rigid enough and it doesn’t slip away when navigating with it or playing games, while the volume up/down buttons, the camera ON button and the “Online” button (dials your ISP or via GPRS) are well-placed. The contacts, call history and the rest of the UI are quite intuitive. In fact, comparing it to Nokia’s series 40 or Motorola’s ROKR/e398 it’s miles better. UI-wise, this is the best phone I have ever used. I especially liked the Calendar, which is very easy to use and navigate through. Signal reception of the device was normal, nothing exceptional though.
The phone comes with 3 pre-installed games (one of which is in real 3D), a voice recorder application and a MusicDJ application, which is a midi instrument kit allowing you to create your own melodies and save them as ring tones. The camera quality is similar to the ROKR/e398 (4x zoom VGA), and the video recording capability (with sound) is a welcome feature over the e398. You can see a movie sample: “JBQ feeding the ducks” (use ‘Save As’; best viewed with QuickTime 6/7). The package does not come with the needed USB cables for the PC (optional items) but the Bluetooth syncing and uploading/downloading worked fine with my Powerbook. I was able to install games via Bluetooth and sync my address book (OSX Tiger supports the K700i fully). Speaker quality is pretty good, although not as good as the ROKR/e398’s. The headphone quality is not bad either, but definitely not what you want to use if you are listening to mp3 or FM radio seriously. Too bad that the phone doesn’t include a normal headphone jack for those who want to use better quality headphones.
There are a few other small inconveniences with the phone, like the rubber protection on the AC/data ports which gets in the way, the freezing of the UI for a second while typing (rare occurrence, but it does happen) and the weird re-ordering of buttons on Java games (some games need way too many on-menu clicks to get things done while this is not the case on other phones even when using the same .jar binary (e.g. vPoker 1.0)). Also, trying to enable the speakerphone while on a call is problematic (you have to take the phone away from your ear and navigate the menus; there is seemingly no shortcut for that option). However, the single “real” problem with this phone is the fact that it doesn’t have a removable memory slot to allow for memory expansion. 41 MBs is great for normal use, but the phone can do so much more with mp3s that it goes to waste because the lack of memory expansion. This phone is in almost every way much better than the Motorola ROKR/e398 (it even runs faster!) and it could have been a much better “iTunes phone”. Especially if it could allow for FM recording to a memorystick card that would really rock!
The K700i was the best feature-phone on the market last year (of non-smartphones) and even this year remains one of the top buys. For $219 it comes at a fair price for the feature-set it offers. If the small inconveniences I noted above bother you though, have a look at the K750i which was released only a few months ago. It solves pretty much all these small issues of K700i and some say that it is the best feature-phone of 2005 (but it is more expensive than the K700i). In any case, both phones deserve your attention and if you are on a small budget, the K700i is an excellent buy.
Pros: great screen, easy to use, bluetooth, video recording, FM radio, mp3 player, IrDA.
Cons: no memory card slot, some small inconveniences here and there.