When we first previewed Sony Ericsson's 2004 lineup of handsets, we were excited about what we saw. From the to the well-regarded to the company's , the new mobiles promised high-end features and innovative styling. But for consumers who don't wish to make a statement with their mobile, there's the Sony Ericsson K700i. All the basics are here, plus a few extras, and the phone delivers on almost all fronts. Priced at $399, it's on the expensive side, but the cost should fall once this GSM mobile is picked up by a carrier. Though Sony Ericsson tends to stick with candy bar-style handsets, it doesn't mean its models are lacking in design appeal. Take the Sony Ericsson K700i, for example. Though it's not fancy by any means, it has a pleasant, understated look. Measuring 3.9 by 1.8 by 0.8 inches and 3.7 ounces, the well-constructed handset is compact and slips easily into almost any pocket. Though flip-phone fans may need to familiarize themselves with its general ergonomics, the silver K700i feels comfortable to hold while talking.
Controls around the rim of the phone are few, but they come in handy nonetheless. A unique feature on the right spine is a dedicated Web-browser button, while a more familiar volume rocker and a dedicated camera key sit on the left spine. We liked the dedicated camera-power button on the top (next to the infrared port) and the sturdy rubber cover on the handset's bottom for the USB port, the headset jack, and the charger connection. Flip the K700i, and you'll find another distinction. Not only are the camera lens, the mirror, and the flash well out of the way of your fingers, but the handset's rear face actually resembles a real camera when held horizontally. And as with the T-Mobile Sidekick II, the placement of the camera key on the spine makes the mobile feel like a camera as well.
The phone's display measures almost 2 inches diagonally and supports an eye-popping 65,536 colors. Rich and vivid, the screen is great for viewing photos, games, and the user-friendly menus. We also liked that we could change the text size and font. Our only complaint was that finger smudges were easily visible. Immediately below the screen are easy-to-use navigation controls that include a wealth of shortcuts. You get a five-way joystick that also gives you one-touch access to four user-defined functions. When the K700i is in standby mode, the left soft key opens the Recent Calls list, while the right opens another shortcut menu for activating Bluetooth and the IR port, viewing the phone's status, and changing the ringer profile. We didn't like that there are no dedicated Talk and End buttons. Instead, you must use the soft keys to make and end calls. While a bit crowded, the backlit keypad is extremely tactile. Also, as the buttons are raised above the surface of the phone, we rarely had a misdial.The feature set on the Sony Ericsson K700i does not disappoint, especially on the business side. The 510-contact phone book holds a variety of information for each name, including five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a Web site URL, a street address, a business title, and notes; the SIM card holds an additional 250 names. Callers can be grouped together, as well as assigned a picture and any of 18 polyphonic (40-chord) or 5 monophonic ring tones. Organizer features included a calendar, a task list, a notepad, a voice recorder, an alarm clock, a timer, a stopwatch, a calculator, and a secured notepad for storing passwords--but the K700i doesn't stop there. You also get voice dialing, Bluetooth, an infrared port, text and multimedia messaging, vibrate mode, a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, and USB cable support. The Sony Ericsson also works with IMAP4 and POP3 e-mail, and you can download software that syncs your e-mail and contacts with a PC or a Mac and allows you to exchange electronic business cards. The speakerphone was another nice addition, but you can turn it on only after making a call--a confusing process that takes several clicks.
The integrated VGA camera takes pictures in three resolutions: 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120. It also has adjustable brightness and picture-quality settings. Other functions include a flash, a self-timer, and a 4X zoom. It should be noted, however, that the full zoom is available at only the lowest resolution. You also can select a night mode, use one of 21 frames, and choose from a series of picture effects (black and white, negative, sepia, and solarize). An unexpected bonus was the panorama option, which takes three pictures next to each other. Unfortunately, though, you can't silence the camera shutter sound.