Sony Ericsson J300a
Sony Ericsson has been pumping out so many feature-rich cell phones lately that the Sony Ericsson J300a took us by surprise when it landed on our desk. If the and the are the yin, the J300a is definitely the yang: Small, simple, and functional, it promises nothing more than the ability to communicate. Although it largely delivers on that promise, the J300a's cramped controls and lack of a side volume control are frustrating. No GSM carrier has selected this phone yet, so it will cost you $79 without any kind of service rebate.
The Sony Ericsson J300a is compact enough to please even the most size-conscious user. Measuring 3.9 by 1.7 by 0.7 inches and weighing just 2.75 ounces, it fits into the smallest pockets and is no more noticeable in a bag than a pack of gum. Available in Sensitive White, Plucky Pink, or Midnight Gray (we tested the white version), this phone casts a slim but eye-catching profile with a distinctive looped antenna on the top of the back face. Despite its slim weight, the J300a felt solid in our hands, but flip-phone fans may not appreciate holding such a small phone to their face.
Since the Sony Ericsson J300a is so petite, we weren't surprised that the display measured a small 1.5 inches diagonally. That said, the screen looks surprisingly bright and crisp, with support for 65,536 colors. Yet, we're miffed about the fact that you can change only the backlighting time; plus, the J300a doesn't let you adjust the screen's font size or show its brightness. Such a small display makes gaming tedious, but it works fine for the user-friendly menus. The navigation controls, however, are a different story. Extremely small and cramped, the controls are too close together and will be a true source of frustration for anyone with large fingers. When using the five-way joystick, which doubles as a shortcut to the menus and four user-defined functions, we consistently steered in the wrong direction or pressed the two soft keys, the Clear button, or the Back key by mistake.
The keypad buttons are also cramped, but since they are raised above the surface of the phone, we had a better-than-expected time using them. The keys are also lit by a bright backlight, so it's easy to dial in the dark. We're disappointed by the absence, however, of any external shortcut keys. Since there's no side volume rocker, you have to take the phone away from your head while on a call to adjust the sound via the joystick. What's more, you must enter a menu and select the Speaker option (five clicks in a call) after you've placed a call, even though there is a speakerphone.