It may sound like an object in an interplanetary tongue, but the Sony Ericsson Naite (pronounced nigh-tay) has its roots sunk deep in Earth. Like the Samsung Blue Earth, the Samsung Reclaim, and the Motorola Renew, the Naite is billed as an eco-friendly phone. It's made from recycled plastic and it's also packaged in a thinner, lighter box made from less cardboard. It also includes a charger that's compliant with the Energy Star V standards. The standby mode sucks up less power, and the Naite comes wrapped in a recyclable sleeve that emits the unfortunate stale odor of "New Car Smell."
Yet the do-gooding phone does many things well. For instance, there's Sony Ericsson's typically sharp and bright display, easy navigation, and some substantial features like e-mail support, Google Maps, and an FM radio. Although the 2-megapixel camera is nothing worth writing home about, the Naite makes amends with a video recorder and photo and video editors.
Naites come in two colors: Vapour Silver, the classic black and silver color, and Ginger Red, for those who prefer more pizzazz. We evaluated the unlocked silver and black Naite using T-Mobile's service, but the features are the same on both models. The midrange feature phone is a strong showing for most casual users who aren't looking for a business device--and we guess the reduced carbon footprint doesn't hurt, either. The Naite sells for $159, which is very well priced for an unlocked phone.
The two-toned candy bar Naite is an attractive, if slightly boxy, phone. It measures 4.3 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep; it sports a silver keypad and a screen that's bordered in recycled black plastic. In fact, the entire phone is made from recycled plastics sourced from water bottles and CDs--from the stripe of silver running the length of the Naite's spine to its black, vertically ridged backing. At 3 ounces, the Naite is light in the hand, but not particularly sturdy. It slips easily into pockets and purses.
On the Naite's right spine sits a sliver of a volume rocker. The left spine houses the phone's large proprietary charger port that also serves as the headset jack. We prefer these two to be separate. The nonstandard, two-pronged jack itself is inconvenient (the standard 3.5mm jack is best), and we'd much rather see it at the bottom of the phone than on the spine, where it forms an uncomfortable crater if you grasp the phone by the sides On the back you'll find the Naite's 2-megapixel camera lens (sans flash), and that ridged cover we mentioned, which you can pretty easily pop off to expose a microSD slot. We're glad to see that Sony Ericsson didn't stick us with its Memory Stick micro format. We're not adoring fans of those ridges, however. The vertical grooves may be intended to improve grip, but they will slide the phone right off your hand when you tilt your palm.
At 2.2 inches, the Naite's screen is fairly generous for a phone of this type; it's about half its height. More importantly, it boasts Sony Ericsson's typically impressive sharpness and saturation with its 240x320-pixel and 262,144-color resolution. Even at 70 percent brightness, the screen is easily read in low and bright lighting. Though you can change the wallpapers and animated themes, you can't alter the font size.
Two soft keys flank a four-directional navigation pad that's equipped with a central OK button. Navigation is quick and responsive. You'll find the Naite's power button sharing a key with the End button. There are also dedicated buttons for silencing the phone, locking the dial pad, and popping up some shortcuts. They're fully separated and backlit, but we found the keys to be a little cramped and squat, even for modest-size fingers. We also found it difficult to dial by feel, although the key shape did not impede texting.
The Naite's address book holds 1,000 contacts, with seven possible numbers and an e-mail address per contact. You can't create caller groups, but you can initiate a conference call with up to five people. You can also assign a picture to a contact, but not a ringtone, which is a surprising omission. There's also no support for group calling, another common feature. The Naite has 18 polyphonic ringtones to choose from. There's a speakerphone option during active calls, but when silence is golden, you can mute all rings and turn on vibrate mode to cancel the noise.
In the organizer, you'll find a file manager, calendar, to-do list, notes, timer, stopwatch, calculator, and a password-keeper. There's also stereo Bluetooth, 3G support, push e-mail, and text and MMS. Voice command and media syncing through the MediaGo app are nice touches. As for mapping features, Google Maps for Mobile comes preloaded, and includes directions (but not the turn-by-turn navigation found in higher-end smartphones). Integrated Facebook and YouTube apps serve as a social networking bridge. RSS feeds and podcasts are also onboard.