Taken and edited form my Mouthshut Post

Now its too late… 4 months since i bought this cell…and i’m about to write a review now!

As i had told in previous blogs i used to be SAMSUNG fan..and i continues to be a samsung fan…but ahem.. due to some financial reasons i cudnt buy a samsung fone this time.. I wanted to have d500 😀 ..but…u know!!! So i decided to get one of those sub 10K fones… i went to my usual dealor after some market studies(read googling).And asked for one k300i from sony stable.. But it seemed to be too cheap…not in its price..but in looks.. too smaal screen.. So after checking my wallet 😉 i asked for one k500i..To my surprise the price was RS 7250/- . For that price i get a fone with mp3,video,12 mb memory(no comments!) vga camera with 4x digital zoom..wat else..3d java games.. class 10 Gprs…streaming video( tht was real fun) ,then one Music DJ,sound recorder..and its triband(although i hav no use for it as am not planning to go overseas any soon :D).. so ishelled out 7250 and bought a K500i… i managed to get a datacable for around 500bucks.. so total investment -> 7750 RS
Turning the phone on for the first time impressed me more than the look of the body. I was greeted with the Setup Wizard which smoothly helped me set up the date, time, and contacts in my phonebook (by copying from SIM) and also giving me tips on how to navigate using the buttons. The user interface (such as menus and icons) is extremely vibrant with animations and pop-up menu icons that seem to lift up off the screen into your face.
There are a variety of themes preloaded to choose from, all of which have animated wallpapers to give the phone that extra look. Sony Ericsson’s graphical user interface always seems to be well developed on all of their latest phones (out running Nokia’s menu system, which tends to look boring and sometimes not even animated at all, for example on the 3200). But the graphical menus in this phone are the best I have seen so far. The illumination on the keypad is orange (not one of the best colours to choose!). The K700i has bright/blue LEDS, it would have been better if they kept it the same, maybe choosing orange LEDS is because its cheaper.

Design

  • 102 x 46 x 14 mm (HxWxD)
  • Weight 80g
  • Available in Virtual Silver and Cosmetic Blue
  • ‘Candybar’ form
  • Camera cover/shutter
  • Large 128×160 (176×220 pixels) TFT display with 65,536 colours
  • Side Camera Button allows pictures to be taken in horizontal position
  • WAP shortcut button on side
  • Up/down volume keys on side
  • Easy joystick navigation control

Fun/personalisation features

  • VGA camera with 1280×960 interpolation(but i use @ 640 * 480 higher ratings are digitally achieved..so there is a lose in clarity)
  • Video recording
  • Media Player- Video/audio playback (formats: MP4/3GP/AMR/ACC/MP3/)
  • MP3/ACC/AMR/WAV ring tones
  • Streaming media (3GP/AMR/MP4)
  • Themes
  • 3D J2ME (Java) games
  • MusicDJâ„¢ MIDI composer
  • Sound recorder
  • Change wallpaper, start-up picture/animation, screensaver

Communication Features

  • EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service- also known as Nokia Picture Messaging)
  • MMS (Multimedia Messaging)
  • E-Mail (using POP3/IMAP4 mail settings)
  • My Presence (Instant Messaging Service- network dependant)
  • Caller ID images
  • WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) browser
  • GPRS (General Packet Radio Service- for data transfer, used to connect to WAP)
  • Supports X-HTML websites (a simplified version of a HTML website viewed using the World Wide Web on a PC)
  • Tri-Band

Other Specifications

  • Battery- 300 hours standby, 7 hours talk time(in manual only!!!)
  • Vibration
  • 12mb internal memory (not expandable)
  • Organiser functions
  • Tri-band

Detailed Review

The K500i, aimed at the younger generation, is packed full of not only useful but fun features. Two things I test straight away with any mobile is the quality of pictures taken with the camera and ring tones.

Camera

There is a protective cover (which I keep forgetting to slide open, duh) which covers the camera lens; there is also a mirror for you to take self-portraits (which, by the way I don’t use often…). One thing that put me off instantly was the shutter sound (the noise which sounds when a picture is taken). I have noticed that most, if not all Sony Ericsson’s don’t allow you to turn off this sound. If you’ve heard the shutter sound on Nokia’s, the sound made on this phone is completely different (it doesn’t sound soft, or normal!). It’s more like the sound of two really sharp blades scratching each other. What’s worse, there is no way of turning off the sound (even when putting the phone on silent). It is impossible to take photos without everyone knowing. But I have since gotten used to the shutter sound (and not being able to secretly take pictures of my friends!).

Moving away from the less important ‘blade scratching racket’, the quality of photos taken with the camera is very high. There are four picture sizes to choose from:

  • Large (640×480)
  • Medium (320×240)
  • Small (160×120)
  • Extended (1280×960)

This handset also has a four times zoom and a brightness adjustor.The pictures that I took I thought came out really well and were very impressive.
The phone has an Infrared connector, which worked ok, but it wasn?t too strong a signal and was fiddly to operate. Another option for transferring pictures is to use the serial port cable that came with the phone and the included software?more about this later. You store the photos in the photo library but I found on numerous occasions while accessing this feature that the phone would crash and the only way to recover would be too take the battery out of it, so I thought that this was annoying as well as worrying.
In the manual, it says that to get the best photo pictures should be taken in ‘Extended’ mode. I find this to be false; pictures taken in this mode appear grainy because the image is bigger (almost as if it were a 640×480 picture stretched to create a 1280×960 sized picture). Photos appear best when taken in large size.

This one is a 640*480 pic that i took using k500i with normal settings..Its almost fine!

And now here its a 1280*960 sized pic..As You can see its grainy and pixelated..Digitally extended image…So my advice- Use 640*480 setting..

Pictures taken in horizontal position turn out to be the size 480×640. Though you’d expect it to be the other way around (where holding it vertically would produce this size photo because of the shape of the screen).

There are also a number of effects to choose from (Black and White, Negative, Sepia and Solarize). There’s also frames you can choose to take pictures with, for example you can take a picture of your friends head on a baby’s body. Effects can be used in video mode as well.

Videos

Depending on the current conditions videos are captured on (bright/dark lighting for instance) sizes of a video for 1min of recording can vary from 500kb to 900kb. Quality of videos come out pretty good for a mobile phone (compared to the Nokia 6230, videos taken with the K500i are better, partly because of the bigger screen). You can select from a Large or Small video size (large takes up more space). You can also set the size limit of the video, unlimited/limited. It is best to choose limited when recording a video to send to another phone via MMS. Sounds within a video are good, but the phone picks up closer sounds better than sounds in the background.

For both still picture and video capturing modes, there is a Night Mode function. However, with the poor quality of images taken in dark lighting conditions you would have though night mode would compensate for it. It actually makes the quality worse, making the picture fuzzy and grainy.

Ringtones

One of the first things I did was connect the phone to my computer to transfer MP3 to use as ring tones. Because the phone only has 12mb of memory, and I wanted several tones, I cut short and edited the MP3s so that they lasted about 1min each (long enough for a ring tone). Alternatively I could have chosen to have one full length MP3. I was able to store three MP3 files, each lasting 1 min encoded at a quality of 128kbps (I still had a good 8mb left for pictures and videos). MP3s when set as ring tones sound much louder when your phone rings compared to playing them back using the Media Player.

The clarity of tones is exceptional, including the loudness (seriously, don’t put the phone up to your ear when it’s ringing, ouch). This goes the same for midi/wav tones. I am extremely pleased with the quality of the tones on the K500i. But it would have been nice to be able to use your own sound file for a message alert, you can only choose from seven of the Sony Ericsson alerts (good job they all sound good!).

Display

Because of the large 128×160 screen, text/images or anything for that matter can be viewed on the display very well. My friend sent me a picture from his Sagem myx7; it was a picture of someone’s face. Comparing the two pictures on both screens the K500i produced a much sharper clearer images, the features of the face stood out more (such as the eyes) whereas on the myx7 the eyes seemed to blend and blur into the face making it hard to see. Colours on the K500i are very bold/bright making it great to look at.

Sometimes when you glare at a TFT PC monitor then look at say a phone with 4096 colours (for example the Nokia 3200) the 3200s screen will noticeably look dull and lifeless. But with this 65,536 colour screen looking at a monitor with a high colour depth and looking at the K500i there is no difference in the boldness of colour. The screen surprisingly appears just as well outdoors in the sunlight as it would and does indoors. There is hardly any glare and there is no loss in colour.

Phonebook

It’s important to have a phonebook which not only lets the user enter in contacts with ease, but view contacts with ease as well. The phonebook is the best I’ve used so far, for each contact you can easily enter in details such as their name, several numbers (fax, home, work, mobile etc), e-mail, house address and notes. You can also assign a picture (which appears when calling the contact/receiving a call from that contact) or a ring tone. One problem is that you can only assign ring tones to a limited amount of contacts which can be off putting. Nor can you assign tones to specific groups. The group function in the phonebook is there to make it easier for you to send messages to multiple persons (for instance you might send a party invitation SMS to your contacts under the group name Mates), unlike Nokia phones, where groups are used to identify contacts.

Voice Control

There are a number of things you can use voice control for:

  • To activate voice control (using a Magic Word)
  • To dial a number
  • To answer/reject calls

Before any voice command can be used, you need to tell your phone you want to use a voice command for it to know to listen to what you’re going to say. This can do this by pressing and holding the ‘+ Volume’ key on the side of the phone. However, if you have a hands free kit attached (which isn’t included) you can say a Magic Word which will automatically tell the phone to listen to a command that you about to say (you phone will in essence be pressing the ‘+ Volume’ key for you). This word should be something odd, you wouldn’t want to make it (for example) ‘command’ because you might say ‘command’ in a normal conversation with a friend but don’t want to use a voice command on your phone. It’s best to choose a word like ‘bazooka’ (just a suggestion!). This feature can only be used when using a hands free accessory.

Another cool voice feature you can do is Voice Answering. When your phone rings, just say the word ‘Answer’ and the call is connected. Similarly, you can reject calls by saying the word ‘busy’. These must be pre-recording and setup in the voice control menu before using this or any voice activation feature. Also, voice answering can only be used if your ring tone is not an MP3. My guess is that the phone cannot tell the difference between you voice and an MP3. Also, this feature can only be used when using a hands free accessory.

Last but not least, you can dial numbers by using voice control. This feature overall is very accurate, upon using it 10-20 times it hasn’t failed to call the correct person, it also works very well in loud environments (I voice dialled successfully with loud music on). You can also get the phone to repeat the pre-recorded name of the contact you have dialled using voice control so you know that you have called the correct person. The best thing is that you can have an unlimited amount of voice tags for contacts.

3D Java Games

This is the first phone I’ve played on which has 3D Java Games. The K500i uses Mascot Capsule 3D, graphics produced on the Super Real Tennis by Sega are pretty good (of course not as good as graphics produced on a Nintendo GBA!). The game is real good as well. There’s a two other games preloaded, Darts and a Fighting game. There aren’t any Applications on the phone, but there is a folder for you to download and install them for use.

Organiser

This consists of the following.

  • Calendar
  • Tasks
  • Notes
  • Applications
  • Alarms
  • Timer
  • Stopwatch
  • Calculator
  • Code Memo

It’s easy to navigate through dates using the Calendar. One thing which is off putting is the inability to add in a note to the calendar without having to put in appointment times. Nor can you select what type of note it is (for example on Nokia phones you can select to put a birthday note in the calendar, which also calculates how old the person will be). With my previous Nokia I relied on my calendar to remind of upcoming birthdays. Compared to Nokia phones, it’s not as easy to enter in notes (or what’s known as appointments on SE phones). Tasks and Notes are similar features, tasks is used to list a bunch of tasks (obviously) which can be ticked when completed. Notes simply allow you to write short notes.

The reason why the alarm feature is called Alarms (plural) is because you can set a recurrent alarm which will sound at a specific time on selected days of the week (handy for reminding those of you who are addicted to Eastenders). You can also change the alarm sound to any sound file you have available on your phone. Timer lets you countdown (by hours, minutes and/or seconds). The timer alert sounds realistic to a kitchen timer. Stopwatch allows you to not only time but also record lap times, something you might use if you ever decide to time someone running on a race track I guess. The calculator is simple and easy to use; Code memo is used to safely store credit card codes and password which are protected by a personal PIN set by you. Applications is simply a shortcut to installed applications on your phone which are stored in a folder in your File Manager.

WAP Browsing/streaming media

I’ve used many WAP browsers on different phones, Motorola C333, V525, and Samsung E710. I found it to be extremely slow and choppy on all of these mobiles (perhaps it’s just these specific models that were slow). Since the K500i was my first Sony Ericsson, I was worried as to whether or not WAP browsing would be as good as Nokia’s. It’s actually the same if not better than Nokia’s. Once handy feature is that when addresses are typed in, they are remembered so you can simply go to ‘Enter Address’, scroll down and select a previously entered address. Of course, the list can be cleared, including other lists such as history. The speed seems very zippy, however this may be network dependant but to give you an idea I’m using a GPRS connection on Airtel.

Calling Features

As mentioned before, you can assign pictures to contacts. This is a cool feature; I’ve added pictures of people in my family to their names, all of which have them pulling funny faces (sorry sis if you always look like that in snapshots…). Any who, these pictures appear when not only receiving calls but when making calls. It’s nice to see their faces and have a chuckle whilst you’re listening to the dialling tone. Another great calling feature is the ability to only receive calls from contacts/numbers added to your ‘Accept Calls’ list. So for instance you can add all numbers but leave out certain ones like ‘HSBC’, if you’re avoiding them that is (you might want to unhook your landline whilst you’re at it). You can set up to 9 speed dials (1-9) however 1 is usually taken up by voicemail.

I didn’t realise that you don’t keep hold of the number, instead for speed dialling you press the number (1-9) then press ‘Call’. Keeping hold of a button (1-9) will take u to the phonebook and scroll down to the specific first letter on the number you press. For instance, keeping hold of ‘2’ opens your phonebook and goes to the contacts beginning who’s name begins with the letter ‘A’. This is a handy feature, but not for people who have gone through a transition from using a Nokia to this K500i (or Sony Ericsson mobiles, if all do this). Sometimes, I keep hold of a speed dial number and hold the phone up to my ear……’silence’ (I only realise afterwards). But I suppose I’ll adjust to it. The Call List feature is well planned out, calls that were answered, dialled or missed all have small different coloured arrow icons beside them (blue for answered, green for dialled and red for missed). This is handy for viewing all calls, or for reminding you whether or not you dialled or answered a call. Alternatively instead of viewing all, you can move left and right to different tabs which show answered/dialled/missed calls alone.

Messaging (SMS/MMS/E-Mail/My Friends/Presence)

T9 text entry with multiple languages makes it easy to write messages (or enter text for that matter). But it is also easy to enter text without using T9, there’s hardly no learning curve and it took me only about a day to get typing at the keys fast. It’s simple to create MMS’s, and of course there’s the option of adding several slides to your message. I think the maximum size for the message is around 100kb, but the phone will warn you if your message is too big. You can add pictures, videos, sounds, text to your message. You can also change the colour of the text and background (however I’m not sure if this appears the same on the recipients mobile). The E-mail client supports POP3 and IMAP4 accounts; it is simple and easy to set-up and use (though I haven’t set mine up properly!). My Friends/Presence is new and is now becoming a must have on most mobiles; it’s an instant messaging service on your phone.

However, because this is network dependant, my phone (being on AIRTEL) does not have the My Friends feature available to access. Instead, where this icon should be in the menu the Call List has taken over. PerhapsAirtel isn’t planning on hosting this service (as it requires network operators to host servers for this feature to work). But if this feature were available on my handset, I would be able to view who’s online and their current status (just like Yahoo messenger or msn messenger) and I would be able to chat to contacts and create chat rooms to chat to several of them. Sadly, I will never know what this feature will truly be like.

Customizing the phone

There’s so much you can change. For example, you can change your start-up image, wallpaper and screensaver. For all three you can choose an animated GIF image. One problem with the screensaver is that the image/animation selected will only appear for about 8 seconds after which the clock comes up and moves around the screen. It’s not so much a bad thingBut also along with the idle clock display icons appear (to tell you for example if you’ve got a message, missed call etc).

The clock display is shown in white on a black background, so even when the backlight is off you can see the time and any icons that should appear. Themes are really cool which are used to change the look/style of menus and icons, the phone is preloaded with several. But you can also edit them using a program which can be downloaded from the Sony Ericsson Developers website (developer.sonyericsson.com- you need to sign up though).

Other Features

The handsfree loudspeaker is loud enough, and the microphone sensitive enough for you to have the phone away from your face. The MusicDJ for composing ring tones if fun to play with, and it’s easy to create nice sounding tones (once you’ve got the hang of what sounds mixed together sound good). All files (Pictures, Videos, Tones, Applications and Themes) are stored in their separate folders accessible using the File Manager. Here you can check the amount of space your phone has left (in mb) and also how much space each folder is taking up. You can also add your own folders. One excellent feature is the ability to select several files, after which you can ‘delete all’ selected or ‘move all’ selected. However you can choose to ‘send all’ which would have been nice. Sending files to a PC or phone is easy, simply select the file and choose send via IR.

You can also select to send using E-mail and MMS. When sending to the computer via IR, you simple align it to your PC, press send via IR and your PC should pop-up with a message saying accept file (or something on those lines). This goes the same for sending from PC to the phone, but this time you need to activate the IR on your phone, select a file on your PC, go to send and select send to nearby computer. Your phone will sound an alert and ask for your to the accept the incoming file. Alternatively, instead of using Windows Infra-red facilities, you can download the File Manager from fun.sonyericsson.com. This makes it easier for you to upload and download multiple files in one go. But I’ve had some trouble keeping a connection with the phone and PC using this software (maybe it’s just my PC). Another feature I didn’t realise the K500i has is that when the battery power is dangerously low the power button on top of the phone flashes red because it has a red LED in it. I read on several forums over the Internet that many Sony Ericsson’s have this feature (so why don’t they put it in the bloomin manual!!!).

And one thing that i hate most in this phone is its range!!! Sometimes when i put it pocket and take out after some time it shows Emergency Sev. !!!! crap!! hats the single thing i hate in this phone.Cant trust the signal quality.Another thing is it hangs when opening camera pics folder.Not a serious problem,yet an annoying one!

So my advice : Buy it if u live in city perimeter where there is no signal problem.. 🙂