The C905a comes with high-speed 3G/HSDPA, which gives it access to AT&T broadband services like Cellular Video, AT&T's video streaming service from a variety of content providers like CNN, ESPN, and HBO, and , which lets you stream live one-way video to another Video Share-compatible phone. While we enjoyed the fast 3G speeds, we wished the C905a came with Wi-Fi like the C905i.
If you're a music fan, you'll also like, AT&T's gateway portal to music applications like Music ID (a song identification service), mobile XM radio, streaming music videos, and the ability to purchase and download songs from Napster and eMusic. A song is typically $1.99, or $7.49 for five tracks. You also need a Memory Stick Micro (M2) to buy and download a song. There's even an FM radio tuner built in.
The music player interface is easy to use, and we especially like that there's a separate category for audiobooks and for podcasts as well. Aside from downloading music, you can also load music onto the C905a via the included USB cable. Of course you can also create and edit your own playlists and set songs on repeat or shuffle.
But the biggest feature on the C905a is the 8.1-megapixel camera. It can take pictures in four different resolutions, two quality settings, five color effects, and five white balance choices. Other settings include spot metering, a self-timer, red-eye reduction, macro mode, an infinite focus mode that disables autofocus for long-distance pictures, 16x digital zoom, an image stabilizer, four shutter sounds plus a silent option, and autorotate. There's also flash mode, which you can turn on permanently to act as a flashlight. We also like that the camera has GPS geolocation, so you can find out where you were when you took a particular photo.
One of the features we particular liked was face detection, which automatically focuses in on a subject's face indicated by a green square. We also liked all the different shoot modes; smart contrast automatically sets the correct contrast for you, while BestPic takes seven photos in succession to let you pick the best ones to keep. The different scene modes are also helpful in taking photos in specific situations like twilight, landscape, portrait, beach/snow, sports, and even a mode specially for taking macro shots of documents.
There's also a built-in camcorder that can record clips in either 20-second bursts for MMS or a longer clip in normal mode. Editing options are similar to that of the still camera. Photo quality was quite impressive. Images didn't look blurry at all, and colors look very vibrant and bright. Video quality was only average though, but it's OK for viewing on YouTube or sharing with friends.
The C905a comes with a slew of games and applications, like mobile banking, My-Cast Weather reports, WikiMobile (Wikipedia for mobile use), Yellowpages, World Clock 3D, Bubble Bash, I-play Bowling, Ms. Pac-Man, Need for Speed, Turbo Jet Ski 3, and plenty more. If you want to download more, you can get them via the MediaNet browser. The same goes for getting more graphics or alert tones for customizing your phone.
We tested the quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) world phone in San Francisco using the AT&T service. We were pleased with the call quality on the whole. Callers heard us loud and clear without any interference, though they did hear a bit of ambient noise, even in relatively quiet environments like in the office. They could still tell we were on a cell phone, but that didn't deter the voice quality, which they said sounded quite natural. Speakerphone calls were surprisingly good--callers couldn't even tell we were on a speakerphone. Automated voice recognition systems recognized our voice commands without a hitch.
On our end, call quality was generally quite good except for the occasional static blip. There was also those annoying GSM clicks every once in a while, but that's quite typical. Incoming sound quality on the speakerphone sounded a little harsh and tinny, but there was still plenty of volume. Similarly, music quality over the speakers was lacking in bass and sounded rather weak. We would definitely recommend using a stereo headset for better audio quality.
We found the 3G speeds quite zippy; loading simple WAP pages took only 10 or so seconds, and downloading a 1.5MB song took around 40 seconds. We also streamed a couple video clips from AT&T's video streaming service with very little buffering time, around 5 seconds at the most. Video quality was average. Though the 262,000 colors on the display helps in improving the image quality of the video, they're far from perfect. We still spotted the occasional artifact and blurry shot. This was especially noticeable in video with a lot of action movements.
The Sony Ericsson Cyber-Shot C905a has a rated battery life of 9 hours talk time in GSM, and 3.5 hours with UMTS. It has a 16.6 days standby time on regular GSM and 14.6 days standby time with UMTS. Our tests showed an impressive talk time of 11 hours and 23 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 1.12 watts per kilogram.