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Hands on with the Sony Ericsson C905

At CES 2009 we give the 8.1-megapixel Sony Ericsson C905 a quick shakedown.

The C905 has a bright display. Kent German/CBS Interactive

Though we've known about the Sony Ericsson C905 Cyber-shot for a few months, CES gave us our first opportunity to see it up close and personal. With an 8.1-megapixel camera, it is Sony Ericsson's highest resolution camera phone to date. What's more, it also has many of the same features you'd find on a standalone camera and it offers several ways to get your photos off the phone.

With such a packed feature set we were expecting a rather bulky design. And in that respect the C905 delivered. It's not as big as the Samsung Innov8, but at 4.1 by 1.9 by 1.7 inches and 4.8 ounces it's hardly as slim as the 5-megapixel Sony Ericsson C902. That trade-off is a solid feel in the hand and a sturdy slider mechanism. We also like that tapered ends that give the C905 a streamlined feel. The handset comes in sliver, black, and gold, and the company added a tender rose (aka pink) version at the show.

We like the C905's tapered ends. The camera shutter is on the right spine. Kent German/CBS Interactive

The display is bright and beautiful with sharp colors and graphics. Sony Ericsson typically succeeds with its displays, and the C905 is no exception. The company also has a history of over-designing its navigation controls, but we were glad to see that the C905 breaks that mold. The square navigation toggle and central OK button are spacious and tactile, as are the other navigation controls that surround it.

Like many camera phones, the C905 resembles a regular camera when viewed from behind. A sliding lens cover hides the camera lens, bright Xenon flash, and a self-portrait mirror. Sliding the cover opens starts the camera automatically. You'll also find comfortable camera ergonomics. When holding the phone horizontally, the side-mounted camera shutter and volume rocker/zoom control are right at your fingertips. We haven't seen the photo quality yet, so we'll have to save that for our full review.

The keypad buttons are relatively flush, which is not a surprise on a slider phone. Yet, the keys are pretty tactile and spacious, with large numbers and a bright backlighting. Fortunately, the memory stick micro slot rests conveniently on the left spine below the memory card slot.

A sliding cover hides the camera lens. Kent German/CBS Interactive

As we mentioned earlier, the C905 is all about its camera. Besides the 8.1-megapixel resolution you'll also find a solid set of offerings that includes autofocus, geotagging, smile detection, face detection, a self timer, and a digital zoom. Wi-Fi is integrated as well; you can use it to upload videos directly to YouTube. Outside of the camera there's a music player, a speakerphone, stereo Bluetooth, messaging and e-mail, personal organizer applications, mass USB storage, an FM radio, and PC syncing.

At the time of this writing the C905 is available only in Europe for 499 euros or about $682. Sony Ericsson says it will bring an unlocked version of the C905 to the United States in the second quarter of this year. It is quad-band GSM and it supports both Europe and North American 3G bands. We hope to get it in soon for a full review.