The latest Cyber-shot phone’s predictable design will appeal to longtime Sony Ericsson fans. But does is its price justified?
There are plenty of Cyber-shot camera phones out there for Sony Ericsson fans. Some manage to provide for great picture quality and some don't. That's just how it is. The C903 is the latest Cyber-shot mobile handset and here's how it fared.
I am quite disappointed in the rather bulky and heavyset design. It has a 2.4-inch TFT LCD display with a 240 x 320 pixel resolution, which is quite standard in this day and age. The surface is supposed to be scratch-resistant. The slider is smooth enough and the keypad is quite large and well designed for typing. All Sony Ericsson shortcut buttons are placed exactly where they would be on any other SE handset.
On one side is SE's proprietary all-in-one port for the handsfree, USB and charger. Since this is not a Walkman series handset you have no choice but to stick to the bundled handset. Thankfully that's a mute issue as the set is comfortable and provides good audio for both calls and music. On the other side are the volume/zoom buttons followed by a couple of camera function keys.
The camera can be activated by sliding down the rear portion. That will reveal the lens and the dual LED flash. The M2 card port is placed under the rear panel.
Features and performance
There's absolutely nothing new about the UI. The accelerometer works only with Media menu and the browser. The themes are highly animated and colourful so the potential for battery drainage is quite high. Nevertheless the system is smooth and there's virtually no lag while activating or running apps. Multi-tasking is a real problem with most SE handsets.
It's not a Walkman player but it's pretty good. The audio tone that the music player dishes out is very good. If you have a personal preference you can opt to use the EQ presets or customise the sound using the five band graphic EQ. The Mega Bass is redundant as the C903 is capable of dishing out some serious thump.
Sony Ericsson's FM radios usually function without too much of a hitch. It took less than 10 seconds to find and store all nine stations. Reception was great in almost all areas and not too shabby on my commute either. Other media options include SE's "DJ" apps for creating your own tones with MusicDJ, or editing pictures with PhotoDJ and even editing short video clips and making slideshows with VideoDJ. A voice recorder for voice memos is present as well. The range is not too great though. TrackID is both a standalone application and works well with the FM radio as well. Videos are not bad at all. MPEG4 and 3GP are the supported formats.
There were a few games tossed in as freebies, sadly none of them were motion sensitive, although the handset supports the system.
The C903 is a 3G ready handset that supports HSDPA. We're a long way off from it being easily available to use though. In this case you'll have to settle for EDGE/GPRS or WAP connectivity. There are no updates to the browser. Bluetooth is supported for data transfer, PC control and A2DP. An RSS reader for news feeds is also on board. The complete absence of Wi-Fi is a real downer, and again, considering the price, it should have been part of the handset's make-up. I'm still not happy with the handset shutting down when in USB Mass Storage mode, but that's just how it's always been. You can set up your POP3 or IMAP email accounts but it takes a while.
Additional applications included with the C903 for connectivity include Facebook and YouTube. The Facebook application gives you access to your account directly from the desktop. HP's Snapfish app wasn't present on this device but I was told it would be available on others.
With GPS and A-GPS support, WayFinder is one of the apps provided with the handset for navigation. It has a trial period for the version included so you'll have to pay for the full one when that expires. In the meantime Google Maps is a good choice. Since the camera supports Geotagging, you can pinpoint your images on the map so you know where you were when it was taken. The Tracker application is mainly used for those who like walking or jogging. It keeps 'track' of information like the distance you've covered and energy you've burned as well as the route (via GPS) you've taken.
The 5 megapixel AF camera is quite feature rich, but then, most Cyber-shot camera phones are. The features include Smile Shutter with Face detection that is capable of detecting multiple faces, Photo fix which is part of the editing features, Picture blogging to Facebook, Picasa, MySpace and Blogger. You can do the same with videos. The handset also offers BestPic and a Panorama mode (manual), Scene modes, White Balance etc.
Although I've seen the Face detection work quite well on their digicams, it didn't work too well for me here. In a group of five, the camera managed to pick up just two faces.
Image quality on an average was just okay. No better than any other 5 MP camera out there right now. In well-lit outdoor conditions, the image reproduction is good. It doesn't do too well with low light. Colours don't look too bad but tend to get a little blotchy in some clusters.
On an average, the C903's battery is not too bad. On a single charge it easily gave me about two days of usage with Google Maps, pictures and a few calls and messages thrown in. Talk time alone raked in about 4 hours and 5 minutes. That's pretty good in my book!