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Sony Ericsson C905 review

Sony Ericsson C905 review
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Retail Price: RM 810
AP Price: N/A
The Sony Ericsson C905 is the latest camera offering from Sony Ericsson featuring a 8.1 megapixel camera with auto focus, face recognition, a new feature called Smart Contrast, image stabilization, BestPic, red-eye reduction, xenon flash as well as photoflash for both photos and videos.
Review On : Sony Ericsson C905
c905_header
By Kaloyan Stoychev and Michell Bak, 3rd of January 2009.

On paper, Sony Ericsson aims high with its latest 8-megapixel Cyber-shot phone, the C905. Itís the first product from the Japanese/Swedish venture to sport such a high resolution Camera, and, if you ask us, also the first capable of competing with the standalone compact camera. In addition to this, the C905 features built-in GPS, and is also Sony Ericssonís first feature phone to include WLAN. Mix that up with Sony Ericssonís excellent user interface and a slightly updated set of organizer applications, and youíve got yourself a mighty fine, albeit heavy and large, phone for the masses.

In this review weíll be focusing mostly on whatís new in the C905 compared to other recent Sony Ericsson phones. If youíve got a question about the C905 or feel like weíre missing important parts of the review, please let us know either by contacting us or submitting a comment. Having said that, you should be able to find an answer to most questions somewhere on the site, whether it is in posts or other reviews.



Official product pictures of the Sony Ericsson C905

Advantages
  • Quad-band GSM / GPRS / EDGE
  • UMTS / HSDPA 2100 (tri-band for the US), up to 3.6 Mbps
  • Bluetooth 2.0 including A2DP and EDR
  • Overall good build quality
  • Bundled 2 GB memory card
  • 2.4-inch large scratch-resistant TFT display
  • Improved user interface, messaging and organizer applications
  • 8-megapixel camera with auto focus, xenon flash, and lots of features
  • Built-in A-GPS with WayFinder Navigator Software
  • WLAN (802.11b/g) with DLNA support
  • TV-out functionality

Disadvantages
  • No HSUPA support
  • No front facing video call camera
  • Mediocre battery Performance
  • Heavy weight and large dimensions
  • Camera lens cover
  • Annoying lanyard eyelet
  • Limited video recording

Sony Ericssonís current portfolio shows a few phones that are similar to the C905 - the G705 and its music-loving sister, W705. None of these are camera-centric offerings though, hence the poorer camera. In addition to this, the W705, unlike the G705, lacks a built-in GPS. If we take a broader look at the market, only the Samsung Innov8 comes to mind as a very similar product. However, the Innov8 is a smart phone, meaning itíll trump the C905 in some areas, such as web browsing, while falling behind in other aspects.

The C905 comes in a pretty standard box. Quite a pity, as this is a high-end product, and therefore should project that feeling from the moment you get your hands on the sales box. In the box youíll find the following (depending on region and operator):
  • Sony Ericsson C905
  • Charger
  • USB cable
  • Stereo headset
  • Memory Stick Micro USB adapter (CCR-70)
  • Strap
  • Software CD
  • Manual, brochures, etc.

Thatís not bad at all for a product in this price range.

Large is a bit of an understatement

Letís face it; the C905 is not going to win any Design awards, but nonetheless itís quite classy in a way thatís incredibly hard to describe. The moment you pick it up and hold it in your hand, you simply sense a certain feel of quality.



The TFT display is 2.4 inches large and is capable of displaying up to 262.144 different colours. The resolution of the display is 240 x 320 pixels, also known as QVGA. It performs very well outdoors, even in bright sunlight. The backlighting is quite powerful, and it gets rather bright if you max out the brightness level. When it comes to colours, Iíd say they are as saturated and precise as they get on a display like this. Not only is this one of the best display Iíve ever seen, itís also scratch-resistant as the display is made from mineral glass.



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The alphanumeric keypad is much like a bag of mixed chocolates. Initially, it felt like an excellent keypad and I really enjoyed using it. Tactile feedback was excellent, and although the spacing between the keys could have been a bit better, I didnít really have any problems using it. After having used it for a few weeks though, it started acting up. The tactile feedback was getting weaker by the day, and the pleasure of using it slowly turned into a bit of a nuisance. Iím not sure if this is a problem exclusive to my review handset or not though, as Iíve never heard of a similar case.
The size of the soft keys is just phenomenal, and theyíre placed well, too! The navigation d-pad isnít bad either. My only gripe is that it makes an utmost annoying click every time you use it, and itís bound to drive you nuts.

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The dimensions of the C905 are 104 x 49 x 18 (19.5) millimetres. That may not sound like a lot, but it sure is chubby in real life. Personally I donít like the size of the phone. Itís too large for me. The weight is at 136 grams, but this is actually quite acceptable. The weight makes it feel like a solid and exclusive piece of hardware. The slider mechanism is excellent, and felt sturdy during the review period.

The C905 is currently available in three colour variants; Copper Gold, Ice Silver, and Night Black. In addition to this, weíve seen pictures of a pink variant as well, dubbed Tender Rose. It should be available in shops soon.

The back of the C905 is most reminiscent to a compact camera, which is quite expectable as this is a camera-centric handset. This is especially due to the large lens cover made in metal, but the black rubberised back adds a bit to that feeling as well.





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The left side of the phone houses the proprietary Fast Port connector as well as the Memory Stick Micro slot. The right side is pretty much dedicated to the camera. This is where you find the camera shutter button, a camera mode key (photos / video), preview key, and of course the volume keys that double as digital zoom keys when youíre in the camera.

















The C905ís loud speaker is placed at the bottom of the handset, and so is the lanyard eyelet. It bothered me a lot having it there, as it was in the way of my fingers quite a lot of the time. Thereís nothing on the top of the phone.





You reveal a standard BST-38 (930 mAh) Lithium-Polymer battery when you remove the battery cover. Sony Ericsson claims itís good for 380 hours of standby on 2G networks (360 hours on 3G networks), or up to 9 hours of talk on 2G networks (4 hours on 3G networks). Having used the built-in WiFi functionality on daily basis, itís hard to say whether or not this is true, but based on my experience with the handset I dare to say its battery performance is not as excellent as Sony Ericsson wants it to be. On average I got about 2Ĺ - 3 days out of the battery, which is considerably lower than I usually get with other Sony Ericsson phones.







User interface

Sony Ericsson phones have always been renowned for their user friendly and intuitive Interfaces. The C905 is no exception, and actually builds on the A2 software platform, which is generally used in Sony Ericssonís mid- to high-end offerings, by adding a few new features. There arenít many new things compared to previous generation A2-based phones, most being subtle tweaks related to the C905ís new features (read: Wi-Fi & TV-out functionality). There are a few extra new features though, as weíll discuss later on in the review. The interface itself is practically identical to, say, a C902 or a W760. Itís speedy and really a joy to use.

Is it laggy, you ask? Nay, say I! The time it takes for the software to switch between menus is roughly a third of a second - that is, a bit more than it takes for the phone to register a button press. Frankly, youíd never notice it if you arenít looking for it. It also doesnít slow down considerably while playing music. Adding Wi-Fi and Skype to that didnít slow the phone down much either. Overall, Iím quite pleased with its performance.



The interface itself is quite the looker. It packs large colourful icons and many animations and transition effects to please the eyes. The phone itself comes preloaded with 4 themes. Setting aside the rather dull Clarity theme, weíre left with Cyber Shot, Dusk setting and Morning glisten. Okay, some may find the Clarity theme pretty nice, but once youíve been through 10-15 review handsets, and you find that theme pre-loaded on every single one of them, it gets rather dull.

The first one is supposed to be some kind of default theme that should come with every Cyber-shot phone from the C905 onwards and in that way is similar to the Walkman theme that comes with every Walkman branded phone. The cool thing about it is that the wallpaper of the theme is a kind of slideshow that switches between several pre-configured backgrounds that are made out of various scenic photos. Although itís pretty cool, it would have been nice to be able to configure the photos yourself.

The second theme is dark and goes well with the black aspects/exterior of the phone. It comes with a flash menu (a type that changes the generic menu to a more stylized one, depending on the theme) and a rather interesting wallpaper that shows silhouettes of trees on a dusky background going sideways (as if youíre travelling with a car) depending on the orientation of your phone.
The third one is a bit too feminine for my taste. It comes with a flash menu (jam-packed with pinkish hues) and wallpaper that shows glistens sparkling on your screen, the position of which, again, depends on the orientation of the phone.

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The menu layout can also be changed independently from the theme. You can set it to show as the generic grid type, a rotating carousel type and a single icon type that switches between rather large-sized menu icons vertically. Thereís also the option to use the themeís flash menu, if available. I think most users will find themselves using either the Grid menu or the Flash menu. They are certainly the most practical.

Another very useful feature of the phoneís UI is the Activity menu. It is activated by pressing the activity menu button on the phone and pops up no matter in which menu you were currently. Itís basically a place where you can access all of your recent events (such as unopened messages, missed phone calls undone tasks and calendar events), shortcuts, running applications and Internet bookmarks (think Windows taskbar or OS X dock). Itís really handy and undoubtedly an integral part of the user interface of almost every Sony Ericsson phone.

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The 3-soft key layout isnít very new to Sony Ericsson phones, but many users are still upgrading from older-generation SE phones. Iíll just briefly say that itís much more convenient than the older 2-softkey + back key one, as it is capable of displaying more vital options right on the screen. Itís really easy to get used to as well.

Applications and GPS

The Sony Ericsson C905 comes with a total of five pre-installed Java applications. Thatís quite a nice amount of pre-installed applications! Hopefully weíll see a lot more of that in future handsets. The pre-installed applications are:

AccuWeather - Neat weather application that can keep you updated on the weather all around the globe. The application features 3-day forecasts, including temperatures and wind speeds.



Photo Mate - With such a good camera on-board, youíll need to know how to use it. This is where Photo Mate comes in handy. Itís a photo application that tells you about the basics of photography and how to use some of the special photo features of the C905.



Slideshow Wall - A simple application that displays your camera shots with a few special animations. I suspect this application is partly based on Flash (Project Capuchin). The main purpose of this application is that it can be used as a wallpaper, which is quite fortunate as it would have been pretty useless otherwise.



WayFinder 7 - The only Ďrealí GPS navigation software on the C905 is WayFinder 7. It works with the C905ís built-in GPS unit, and does a decent job. Itís quite simple to use, and feels pretty entuiative. You can do point to point navigation, perform searches, mark locations as favourites and simply use the application as a map, although weíd recommend you use Google Maps instead for that purpose. The built-in GPS unit is pretty responsive. The initial fix took about 3 minutes, and with A-GPS enabled, you should get connected in about 10-15 seconds after that.





World Clock 3D - A 3-dimensional world globe that shows the time (including time zone) and date of all the countries of the world.



Youíll find Sony Ericssonís converter application missing, but itís actually hidden somewhere else in one of the organizer applications - more on that later.

As with all of Sony Ericssonís other feature phones, the C905 comes with a good deal of organizer functionality. The ever-functional file manager hasnít changed a bit since we last looked at it, but thatís not necessarily a bad thing. Weíre generally very fond of the file manager because of its functionality and many features. The phone will automatically sort your content, so you have one folder for camera shots, one for pictures, one for music, one for themes, etc. This is a brilliant way of dealing with files, and is probably one of the reasons to why the file manager works so very well. As said, itís pretty feature rich as well. You can copy and paste files, move files, perform bulk edits, send files and much more.





The calendar is yet another of C905ís many advantages. Itís perfect if you need a quick overview of the day, week, or even month, and itís easy to use. The calendar is fairly comprehensive, and gives you the ability to create rather detailed appointments and reminders. You can also add notes to these, if you want. If you should ever get lost or simply canít find an appointment, you can use the search functionality to find it. Your calendar, along with notes, contacts, etc., can be synchronized via either SyncML or Microsoft Exchange.



Other organizer applications include several alarms, simple tasks and notes, a timer, a stopwatch, code memo, and a slightly updated calculator that now also features a built in converter, so you can convert all kinds of values.



The Media application holds most of the media on the phone, including photos, music, videos, games and web feeds. The interface is pretty slick, and works really well. It will automatically rotate depending on the orientation of the phone. The Media application also supports TV-out functionality with the C905, although this is only available when displaying pictures. Thereís not a whole lot more we can say about the Media application right now, as weíll go through the main parts (pictures and music) of it later in the review. Instead, weíll leave you with some screenshots.








The C905 also comes with a few location services that build on the built-in GPS unit. It is basically a couple of navigation applications - Google Maps and WayFinder 7. Weíve already gone through WayFinder 7, so letís talk a bit about Google Maps. This is an excellent application for viewing maps or checking if the Eiffel tower really exists - you can use it for anything. The latest version also includes the ability to do point to point navigation. You can also locate yourself on a map based on cellular information, in case you should ever get lost.









Compact cameras, beware!

Judging by the C905ís background story, youíd think Sony Ericsson has decided to go all in on the so-called megapixel race. Why? Well, not only did Sony Ericsson announce it as the first 8 megapixel camera phone for the American and European markets, but they also decided to put a hell of a lot emphasis on marketing it as having an 8.1 megapixel camera. Fact is that itís ďonlyí got 7.99 megapixels (not that it matters), and that the allegedly remaining 0.11 megapixels is nothing but utter marketing talk. So, why are we even mentioning this? Well, if you take a look at a production unit C905, youíll notice it has the text ď8.1 megapixelĒ printed on its right side. If you were to compare this to that of a C905 prototype (from before it was officially announced), youíd find the ď.1″ missing. I guess that just goes to prove how important marketing really is.

Anyway, letís get on with the reviewÖ As said, the C905 packs an 8 megapixel camera (3264 x 2448 pixels) with auto focus. Thereís a small self portrait mirror, as well as both an LED for video recordings and a very powerful xenon flash for photos.

The camera interface is pretty standard. Itís the usual Cyber-shot interface that works extremely well, and for the first time ever, itís actually speedy and not laggy at all. Sony Ericsson has been using this interface in its Cyber-shot phones for quite some time now, but it has always been a bit laggy when switching between the settings. The following settings are available for you to choose from.

  • Shoot mode - Normal, Smart Contrast, BestPic, Panorama, Frames
  • Scenes - Auto, Twilight landscape, Twilight portrait, Landscape, Portrait, Beach / snow, Sports, Document
  • Picture size - 8MP, 5MP, 3MP, VGA
  • Focus - Auto, Face detection, Macro, Infinite
  • Flash - Auto, Red-eye reduction, Off
  • Self-timer - On, Off
  • Metering mode - Normal, Spot
  • White balance - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent
  • Effects - Off, Black & white, Negative, Sepia, Solarize
  • Picture quality - Normal, Fine
  • AF light - Auto, Off
  • BestPic - Fast, Slow
  • Review - On, Off
  • Stabiliser - On, Off
  • Add position - On, Off
  • Save to - Memory card, Phone memory
  • Auto rotate - On, Off
  • Shutter sound - Off, Sound 1, Sound 2, Sound 3, Sound 4, Sound 5
  • Reset settings
  • Reset counter

Many of these settings are available in the video recording mode as well.



As with the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1, the camera software algorithms in the C905 are significantly different from what weíre used to see from Sony Ericsson. In the case of the X1 it was a much welcome change, and even though we find this change more fitting in a device like the X1 due to its smaller camera resolution, itís still preferable over the old algorithms.

Youíll find a large amount of camera samples from the C905 available just below. The majority of the samples have been shot in auto mode, but some of the samples have been redone with different settings to show you the difference. Weíve also got a special page for C905 camera samples, where youíre more than welcome to add your own snapshots by posting a link in the comments. Youíll find this page right here.



Generally speaking, the C905 is capable of delivering high quality shots in most conditions, but especially outdoors with plenty of light. The new algorithms make photos look sharp, especially in areas of high contrast or few details. Itís all got to do with the small camera sensor, but we think it generally does a good job of compensating for that. Weíve printed a couple of photos in A4 size, and they looked smashing!

Colours are very saturated and spot on for the most of the time, although with seldom hiccups now and then, mainly due to wrong a white balance setting. While weíre at it with the white balance performance, I think itís safe to say that most will be more than pleased with it. Naturally, itís not perfect and does mess up once in a while, but itís rarely that bad, and even if it is, odds are youíll be able to have another shot at taking the picture.

The metering works pretty well, but as you can see in some of the samples, it has a tendency of over-exposing the images. Fortunately, you can change the metering mode to spot, so itíll adjust the exposure based on the centre light conditions.

The xenon flash is really powerful - probably the most powerful to date! Itís got a reach of about 5 metres, which can be improved a lot by shooting in the twilight portrait mode. And whatís even better is that Sony Ericsson has tweaked the software to a point where itís almost possible to do macro shots with the flash on without getting an over-exposed result. The over-exposure is still there, but itís hardly anything compared to what it is with other Cyber-shot branded phones with a xenon flash.

Smart Contrast is a new camera feature to the Cyber-shot range. What it does is light up dark areas by adjusting the contrast levels. The outcome is often pretty good, but itís not perfect - especially not if youíve got a photo with both dark and bright areas, where the dark areas would come out fine, but the bright areas would get even brighter.

Thereís no arguing that C905 could replace mid-tier compact cameras, but it still doesnít stand a chance against high-end compact cameras and digital SLR cameras. We did a brief comparison between the C902, C905 and a Nikon D80 (d-SLR), and the outcome was quite clear: C905 is a lot better than C902, but miles behind the Nikon D80. We had originally planned a much larger and comprehensive comparison, but as the days went by, we realised that we simply didnít have the time.

The C905 records video clips in MP4 format (container for the H.263 codec) in 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA). We measured an average video bit rate of about 450 Kbps, with a few peaks at 550 Kbps. Thatís a really good bit rate for this relatively low resolution. The video framerate is 30 frames per second, so thatís nice as well. The best thing about video recording on the C905 is the audio quality. The C905 features two Internal microphones, so the recorded audio is in stereo and it sounds fantastic.

Weíve gathered a few video samples in a video just below. If you want the original video clips, you can download these to your computer from the links below the video.

Video sample 1 [2.33 MB]

Video sample 2 [1.59 MB]

Video sample 3 [1.14 MB]

Your photos and video clips can be viewed in the Media menu. You can easily access it by pressing the preview button on the right side of the phone. From the Media menu you can add tags to your media, view photos on a map (if theyíre geo-tagged), edit photos and videos, and view photos in a slide show using the X-Pict Story feature.

More than decent for music

Even though the C905 is not a dedicated music phone, its music player is probably one of the best on the market. Itís actually a generic version of the Walkman v3 music player from the mid- to high-end Walkman phones. What does that mean, you ask? Well, youíll miss out on a few gimmicks, such as Shake Control, SensMe and a few filters, like genre and year, but itís got all the basics covered. You can browse your music by artist, album, tracks and playlists (you can create playlists on-the-go, which can prove very useful). Thereís also a place for your audio books and podcasts in the music menu. The menu itself can be auto-rotated, which makes use of the phone built-in accelerometer. Thereís also a dynamic search feature, which allows you to find content both easily and quickly, just by typing the title of what youíre looking for, much like the contact search feature in the phonebook.

While playing a song there are a few settings you can change in order to adjust the sound output. The first and foremost being the volume, which can be adjusted via the volume rocker on the side of the phone. Obvious things aside, you are presented with a 5-bar equalizer in the settings menu of the main music playback screen. There are several presets you can choose (including the renowned Mega Bass), but you can always adjust the equalizer manually. You can also turn on stereo widening which gives the sound a ďdeeperĒ feel, but diminishes the basses. Of course, the player can also be set to shuffle and loop the songs.

The player itself supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, RealAudio 8, and several WMA file formats. It also shows album art. That should leave most peopleís needs covered.

The sound quality is really good. The phone can easily replace most mid-tier mp3 players. But be warned that it comes with a rather underwhelming pair of headphones (which would actually serve most people well). If you really want to squeeze every bit of sound quality, youíd be better off buying a good set of in-ear headphones though.

The C905 also comes with an FM radio receiver. The radio player supports RDS, which means that youíll be able to see information about the particular station youíre listening to on your screen. You can also save up to 20 favourite frequencies. One thing to note though - you need to have a pair of headphones plugged into the phone if you want to listen to radio. You can choose to transfer the audio to the loudspeaker, but you still need a set of wired headphones, because the cable actually acts as an antenna.

Screenshots from the Sony Ericsson C902

Finally, we arrive at one of the more unique features of Sony Ericsson phones nowadays. Itís called TrackID and as you may have guessed or already know, itís a music recognition service. Say you hear a song on the radio or in a nightclub and you really want to know its name, so that you can download it later on (or right on the spot if youíve got a suitable connection). Just fire up TrackID and itíll record a short clip from the song, send it to an online database for it to be analyzed and retrieve information about the name of the track and the corresponding album and artist. All of that happens magically before your eyes in just 10 - 15 seconds. It can prove very useful to absolutely anyone, especially in the summer (wink, wink!). The service is absolutely free, excluding any data charges your operator may apply (if youíre not using Wi-Fi, that is).

Games

The C905 comes preloaded with 3 Java games.

Kasparov Chess is, you guessed it, a chess game. You can play either a solo game (against the phone/computer) or a multiplayer game against a friend, but on the same phone though. You can also choose from 3 different themes, which change the look of the game. Thereís not much more to say about the game except that it should be quite engaging to anyone who likes to play chess.

Need for Speed Pro Street is the next game youíll find on the C905. This game can also be found on some of Sony Ericssonís more recent offerings. Itís quite a fun game to play actually. It offers nice visuals (at least for a phone) and smooth framerates. Thereís also a variety of tracks you can play on. But probably the coolest fact about the game is the ability to steer the car by tilting the phone sideways, just as you would a steering wheel. That feature contributes a lot to the fun factor of the game. The feature is most comfortable when used in landscape mode, as opposed to the default portrait view.

The good-old Tennis Multiplay is the last game on the list. As you may have figured, in this game you play tennis via a virtual avatar, the different skills of which can be customized by you during the course of the game. You can play a quick match, take part in a tournament or just train, if you think your skills are lacking. The most exciting mode is probably the Bluetooth Multiplayer, in which you can play against other friends wirelessly. Although it may not seem so, itís loads of fun! The game is in 3D, which serves a purpose in the slow-mo replays of those winning strokes - your pride is sure to be satisfied.

Web browser and connectivity

The C905 supports both quad-band GSM / EDGE networks, and UMTS / HSDPA 2100 (3.6 Mbps) networks. The American variant, C905a, furthermore adds support for 850 / 900 MHz 3G networks.

Bluetooth 2.0 is supported, and so is EDR (Enhanced Data Rates). What does this mean then? Youíll get much faster data transfer rates - up to about 140 - 150 kilobytes per second. This is quite useful considering the phone also supports the stereo audio Bluetooth profile (A2DP), meaning you can stream music from your phone to a compatible headset via Bluetooth. You can connect to a computer via Bluetooth or USB. The latter is definitely the fastest solution, especially in file storage mode, but Bluetooth could come in handy as well for certain purposes, such as presentations. Youíll find no support for infra-red connections (irDA).

One of the new features about the C905 is that it offers built-in WLAN functionality. It supports both 802.11b and 802.11g networks, and the overall performance is quite good. The C905 offers good reception strength, although not as good as that of the X1. Thatís actually quite ironic, considering the body of the X1 includes a great deal of metal. The C905 will automatically connect to any favourite networks it may find in range. All you have to do is enable WLAN, and C905 will prompt you that it is connected to your favourite network, once it has searched for networks and is connected to one.
Another thing about the C905 is that it supports DLNA. DLNA makes it possible to share digital media between various consumer electronics, such as the Sony PlayStation 3, computers and mobile units that support DLNA.

The web browser youíll find under the hood is called Access NetFront version 3.4. Itís not a bad web browser, but itís not as good as Opera Mini. We still canít see why Sony Ericsson wonít include this browser as a pre-installed Java application on its phones. One of the best features of NetFront version 3.4 is the mouse cursor. The mouse cursor makes it considerably easier to browse large websites, as you can easily pan around websites. Another nice feature is the website overview feature, which makes it easy to get an overview of a website and quickly zoom in on an interesting part. One thing we dislike about NetFront is that itís rather slow at loading large websites and that it slows down significantly with these large sites. Because the C905 features WLAN, this is a bit of a let-down. You simply canít expect users only to browse websites specifically fitted for mobile phones when your phone features WLAN.


NetFront 3.4 supports CSS, HTML, xHTML, and light Java!s. It cannot display any Flash content. Itís quite a nice web browser when it comes to rendering web sites. You can also use the browser in landscape mode, and it will automatically switch to landscape mode if you tilt the phone.

The custom homepage has been slightly updated, and now looks a lot cooler and more fresh. A neat ďextra featureĒ is that the background image is randomly chosen when you load the homepage. The homepage includes search functionality, shows your browsing history, bookmarks, RSS feeds, and a few links to some of Sony Ericssonís services.

PlayNow Arena - one of Sony Ericssonís web services
RSS feeds provide a brilliant opportunity for people to keep themselves updated on the latest news from various websites. This is built right into the web browser, and if youíre browsing a website with RSS feeds, youíll be notified by a RSS icon at the top of the browser. From here on itís easy to add the feed to your list of sub!ions on the phone. You can set the feed to be updated automatically or manually, if thatís what you prefer. You can easily access your feeds from the Media menu, but if you donít want to go through the hassle (or lack thereof) of doing that every time, you can simply add the feeds directly onto the standby screen. This is quite a brilliant solution, if youíre a keen user of RSS feeds.


The C905 supports most common e-mail services, including Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. Youíll have to set up everything manually though, unless you choose to make use of Sony Ericssonís online e-mail set-up. The phone also supports push e-mail. You can make use of both IMAP4 and POP3 protocols.


Contacts

The C905 holds up to 1,000 contacts, and up to a total of 7,000 numbers. Iím confident thatís enough for most ďaverage JoeísĒ. Each contact can be saved with the following info entries;

  • Name
  • Number (Mobile, Mobile (private), Mobile (work), Home, Work, Fax, and Other)
  • E-mail (up to 3 e-mail addresses)
  • Web address
  • Picture
  • Contact-specific ringtone
  • Voice command
  • Work information (Title, Company, Street, City, State, Zip code, and Country)
  • Personal information (Street, City, State, Zip code, and Country)
  • Info (a note)
  • Birthday (can be added to the calendar)


That would seem satisfying for most people. All of your contact data can of course be synchronized with a computer or sent to another handset via Bluetooth, e-mail, MMS or SMS. The phonebook also allows you to create a business card of your own with all your contact details on it. This is quite useful as you can easily send it to your co-workersí mobile phones via Bluetooth or alike, and it gets stored there. This is much easier than a physical business card!

You can do backups of your contacts on the C905, so youíll never have to worry about losing your contacts. The backups will get stored on the memory card, and are therefore not affected if you reset the phone. Other than that, you can set up a total of nine speed dials, and groups, if you want to send a message to all your co-workers at once or perhaps a Christmas greeting to your family.

Messaging

like on the majority of Sony Ericssonís phones, you can send and receive both MMS and SMS messages on the C905. Itís supposed to be capable of handling your voice calls and messages as well, but we really canít comment on that as itís not supported by our operators. Sony Ericssonís messaging application has been slightly updated on the C905. It now provides a better overview of its functions, and its editor has been given a make-over as well.


As said, the message editors have gone through a bit of a make-over and thereís actually just one editor now, and it does both MMS and SMS messaging. It starts off as an SMS message editor, but if add a picture or alike, it turns into an MMS message editor. Thatís quite a ingenious thought and it works excellently. NowÖ The editor wasnít changed just because of this. With this new editor comes another feature - unfortunately not for the C905, but at least for upcoming handsets - the Sony Ericsson W705 being the first. This feature is called conversation messaging, and means messages between you and a contact of yours will be displayed as a conversation in speech bubbles. Itís quite cool, and is now from a few other handsets on the market, including the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 (due to Windows Mobile 6.1). We have included a screenshot from the C510 to demonstrate how it works.

As always, the T9 dictionary is the best on the market and miles ahead of anything else out there. You can always add a word to the dictionary if itís not in there already. The C905 supports EMS messaging, so you can add graphical smilies, sound effects, animations and small black/white pictures to your SMS messages. You can also set up templates, or use the default ones. These can be added without even leaving the editor. Other features include a large variety of special symbols, support for copying and pasting text, changing writing settings, such as language, dictionary, word predicitons and suggestions.


Calls

As always, there are several ways of calling someone. You can either dial the phone number, find a contact in your phonebook or make use of Smart Search to search for contacts and phone numbers directly from the standby screen. Smart Search is quite a brilliant feature that automatically searches through your contacts for any kind of data that matches the pressed key combination. Hereís an example of how it works.

Say, I want to call myself (excellent example, I knowÖ). From the standby screen I now have two options - either search for my contact entry by name or by phone number. If I was going to do a search by name, Iíd press the 6-key and 4-key for the letters ĎMí and Ďií. As you can see from the screenshot below, that brings up my contact entry. likewise, if I wanted to search for my phone number, Iíd press the 5-key and 0-key, and boom! - there it is! Iíve used this feature an endless number of times and itís just excellent. However, you should note that Smart Search has a tendency of getting a tad slow if youíve got a large number of contacts.


Enough about that - letís get on to the calling part. The C905 supports both voice and (limited) video calling. Thereís no video call camera, which some will find as a bit of a let-down. I personally never use video calling and have always thought of it as overrated marketing bull that people will never use in a million years. But hey, thatís just me. Voice calls, on the other hand, is something Iím quite fond of. And fortunately, the C905 is great at these. Audio during calls is of high quality with little to no background noise. The volume during calls is more than sufficient, and thereís an option to turn on speaker phone is you really want it out loud!

Network reception throughout the review period has been very good, with only a irregular few drops in reception strength.


The call manager can be accessed from the main menu or by pressing the call button in standby. It holds a total of up to 30 calls, which should be enough to get you through the day. Weíre still eagerly awaiting the day when Sony Ericsson updates the call manager to include data about the length of a call or when a call ended.

Conclusion

The way we see it, the C905 doesnít have any serious flaws, and most of the few minor flaws it does have are related to the design and size of the phone. Other than that weíve got the issue of limited video recording capabilities - recording videos on the C905 simply feels outdated when compared to other phones on the market.

Thereís much to like about the C905, especially if youíre used to Sony Ericssonís feature phones and like the user interface, etc. Itís nice to (almost) see a fully equipped phone when it comes to connectivity. Apart from HSUPA, thereís not much youíll find missing with the C905. It even features a built-in GPS unit and is also the first of Sony Ericssonís feature phones to feature WLAN - something weíve been eager to see in feature phones for quite some time now. And then there is the cameraÖ Although weíve not given it top grades, itís still a really good mobile phone camera and is without a doubt among the best out there.

An unlocked and SIM-free C905 retails for about £350 right now, which is a decent price to pay for a handset like this. Had it been 50 quid cheaper, it would have been a bargain, but Iím sure the price will fall just a tad more.

Weíve expressed concerns about the battery performance earlier on in the review, but havenít been able to confirm these. Most people will get no more than a few days of use out of it, which is less than youíd expect from a typical Sony Ericsson product. Having said that, this is not a typical Sony Ericsson product, and after having used the built-in WLAN on a daily basis, itís hard for us to say just how good the battery is.

All in all, weíre quite pleased with the C905, and think itís a wonderful handset that is definitely recommendable to people looking for a great all-round handset.

PS. Due to incompatibility issues with the C905, the SPMark Java Benchmark results are invalid and pretty useless. Weíre almost certain this is because the C905 is based on a new Java platform (JP-8.4).

[Review based on firmware revision R1BA034]
Sony Ericsson C905 review
Published on January 3, 2009
Sales Package 8
Design 8
Display 8.5
Battery 8
User interface 8.5
Applications and games 8.5
Camera 8.5
Music 8
Connectivity 9
Contacts and messaging 8.5
Calls 7.5
Value 8
- 2D game 48.5 fps
- 3D game Invalid
- Fillrate 928k
- Polygon 32k
- PNG score 30 p
- JVM score 1004 p
- Total Invalid
USEB Score 83%
Excellent!  

Original article published at The Unofficial Sony Ericsson Blog


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