The Sony Ericsson K800i is the successor to CNET.com.au's Editors' Choice Award-winning K750i from last year. The K750i changed the landscape of mobile phones in Australia by integrating a 2-megapixel camera with an attractive form factor and easy-to-use interface. Now Sony Ericsson has done it again by boosting the K800i's camera resolution to 3.2-megapixels, adding 3G connectivity, stereo Bluetooth and a bundle of attractive features such as photo blogging, RSS news and a better Web browser.
Sony Ericsson's K800i is a sophisticated looking, but somewhat bulky, candy-bar shaped mobile phone. Its velvety matte black case isn't prone to smudges or scratches but we did find the large 2-inch screen prone to fingerprints. Granted it's a 3G phone with a relatively high resolution camera onboard, but at 106 by 47 by 22 millimetres (it is thickest where the camera is positioned on the back), fashionistas will be turned away by the pocket bulge the K800i creates. It tips the scales at 115 grams, which is a little bit above average.
The TFT display is sharp and bright with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels (QVGA). It is adequately viewable in sunlight and shines brilliantly at night, with support for up to 262,000 colours on the screen. Beneath the display is the usual line-up of Sony Ericsson controls, which should be familiar to its brand-loyal fans. There are two shortcut keys as well as back, clear and Web buttons, and a five-way directional joystick. At the top of the screen are two very thin buttons that we didn't even realise were there until we glanced through the K800i's documentation. Both are called photo keys and allow you to browse saved images, either in thumbnail or full screen mode, when the phone is idle. When in camera mode, these keys alter the settings for stills and video.
The first phone from Sony Ericsson to actually carry the Cyber-shot brand, the K800i has a 3.2-megapixel camera -- the highest resolution currently available in Australia on a phone -- which is launched automatically when you slide open the lens cover on the back. One thing that bothered us about the K750i was that the orientation of the lens cover caused it to open accidentally when put away in your pocket, resulting in ten or so extremely close and dark photos of the inside of your jeans. With the K800i, Sony Ericsson has rotated the lens cover onto the vertical axis. Consequently, we had fewer problems with it triggering unwanted images. The only downside we found with the design of the camera was the visible 5mm protrusion where the camera is positioned, which means the phone isn't flush to surfaces when you put it down.
Down the right-hand side of the K800i is the volume rocker, infrared port and camera shortcut key. Launching the camera turns the screen into a landscape-mode viewfinder, which prompts you to turn the phone on its side and take a photo in the same fashion as a regular camera. The left side of the phone hosts to the play/pause music key and the Memory Stick Micro (M2) card slot.
While the flagship feature of the K800i is its 3.2-megapixel camera, Sony Ericsson has rounded out its imaging capabilities with an exceptional short-range Xenon flash, not the pitiful LED types we see so often on mobile phones. A Cyber-shot feature onboard is BestPic, which is a shooting mode that takes 9 photos in quick succession, displays thumbnails of resulting images, and lets you choose the best picture to save to memory.
After taking a photo, you also have the option of uploading it directly to the Web (no PC needed) to a Blogger.com account. Alternatively you can save it, delete it, send it in an multimedia message (MMS) to a friend or edit it in PhotoDJ.
PhotoDJ allows you to perform basic image manipulation tasks such as adjusting brightness and contrast, light balance, red-eye removal and rotation. It also allows you to add clipart and frames to a photo, as well as special effects. An interesting effect you can apply to photos is called Cartoon, which makes the shot look similar in style to the movie A Scanner Darkly.
Other imaging feautures of the K800i include a 16x digital zoom, image stabiliser, autofocus and a timeline view of photos.
The K800i has an excellent Web browser installed, Access NetFront, which resizes pages to fit the smaller format of the screen. Google was the default page on our review handset, but carriers may choose to direct users to their own portal page on some models. An RSS reader is integrated with the browser for news feeds.