With all the bells and whistles being touted in the latest wave of cell phones, it's good to remember that some people simply need a phone, not a camera/MP3 player/organizer combination. Behold the Sony Ericsson T226. While it offers a smattering of extras, including MMS support and photo caller ID, this compact mobile isn't imbued with much of a "wow" factor. But at $49, it makes for a decent basic phone.
The T226 sports what is becoming the Sony Ericsson trademark style: a boxy design. At 3.9 by 1.7 by 0.7 inches and weighing 2.8 ounces, this phone is small and light enough to slip into your pocket with little notice. The light-grayish-blue (the company dubs it Pacific Blue) case with dark blue trim is attractive, and the handset's slightly tapering sides are easy to grip.
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Bite-size: Not quite as large as the T616, the lower-end T226 fits comfortably in a pocket.
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Sensitive navigator: Some users may find the phone's joystick to be overzealous.
A four-way navigation button rests in between the display and the keypad. We weren't enamored with the joystick in the middle of the navigation key. It's too easy to hit one of the directional keys when pressing the joystick to make a selection. However, it worked well for gaming.
The 101x80-pixel, 512-color display isn't too vibrant, but it's sufficient in low-light scenarios. The backlighting for the keys, however, could be brighter. (If you're looking for a richer display with more colors, check out the larger T616.)
The T226's feature list won't blow anyone away, though it has all the basics you'd expect in the latest crop of phones. You can store up to 250 contacts in the handset's internal phone book, and you can copy contacts or add 250 more names to the SIM card. The organizer is rather crude; you manually enter the date and time of a scheduled event instead of selecting them from a calendar. On the plus side, this mobile takes call blocking a step further; you can choose to receive calls from not only certain numbers but certain groups, as well. If the phone number of an incoming call is not on the list, it gets automatically rejected by a busy tone.
If you toggle on the Minute Minder feature, the phone beeps every minute during your call to help keep track of your usage. That's useful, but we would have also liked the phone to display the remaining battery life the way the T300 does.