Sony Ericsson knows sexy, though we don't remember the company nailing the design of a prepaid model as well as it has with the C510 since the S500i. The C510 looks as much the part of a premium Cyber-shot camera phone as the more expensive. In fact, if you're familiar with the C902, released halfway through 2008, then you'll see the similarities with this newer, cheaper model immediately. The candybar form with a triple band of coloured trim around the edges make us again think of a liquorice all-sort. This isn't to say the C510 looks or feels cheap, we think it's quite the opposite.
The titular Cyber-shot camera is located on the back of the handset, under a slick-looking sliding lens cover. This protects the lens of the 3.2-megapixel camera and a dual-LED photolight. The lens cover has a faux wood grain finish which again brings us back to the point of this appearing to be a more expensive handset than it actually is.
While the keypad doesn't depart from the other attractive elements of the phone's aesthetic, it is a bit too cramped for our liking. Below the 2.2-inch colour display is the standard slew of nav-keys above a numeric keypad, but the space these keys fit into is too small to accommodate them all, and the left and right selection keys suffer most, being extremely difficult to press without pressing the keys immediately around them.
Though the C510 isn't part of the Walkman family we'd have loved to have seen a 3.5mm headphone socket somewhere. The most recent Walkman, the W705 has a similar combined charging and headphone socket on the handset, but includes a headphone adapter in the box. The C510 doesn't include this handy extra, basically leaving you to use the dodgy, cheap headphones Sony Ericsson bundles with the phone.
For all the fuss Sony Ericsson makes about its Cyber-shot series, the pictures they take so often fail to justify the hype. Yes, we know the camera phones are put through the same rigorous testing procedure as other full-fledged Sony Cyber-shot cameras, but the results speak for themselves, and in previous phones we've been a tad disappointed. The C510's low-spec Cyber-shot camera should, by rights, be worse than its high-specced siblings, but our tests suggest its on par with phones costing twice or three times as much, though certainly no better.
The camera's software looks identical to previous releases with no noticeable functions or features missing. The 3.2-megapixel optics do a decent job of capturing your off-the-cuff photos, the digital shutter fires quickly after the auto-focus locks on the subject, though some subtle motion blurring was evident in the pics we took, even when we concentrated on holding the camera still. The C510 doesn't include the digital image stabilisation available on other Cyber-shots.