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At 3.5 ounces and 4.8 by 1.9 by 0.7 inches, the T608 isn't as small as the company's popular T68i, but it's not as hefty as the P800 smart phone either. Finished in matte silver with bluish-gray accents, this candy bar-style mobile fits comfortably in your palm, and like certain other Sony Ericsson models, it's equipped with a five-way, square-shaped joystick for controlling menu navigation. The power button adorns the top of the phone, with a headset jack on the upper right and volume buttons on the left.
Despite the T608's appealing form factor, everyday use produces some immediate gripes. First, the four menu buttons aren't labeled, so it will take some time for you to figure out what each one does and how to master navigation. In addition, all four are extremely close together and slick, so it's easy to hit the wrong one. We also found the blue-backlit keypad too small, and you must firmly press numbers to dial. When the phone isn't in use, you can lock the keypad, although the volume buttons can be jostled in a purse or a pocket, causing the backlight to come on and drain the battery.
And lastly, the T608 features a double-paned viewing screen. Our test model drove us crazy with dust and scratches that were trapped between the internal display and the protective screen so that they're impossible to remove. On a more positive note, the seven-line display (65,536 colors and 128x128-pixel resolution) is superior to the T68i's; both text and graphics looked sharp.
The T608 offers some flashy extras in addition to its standard assortment of phone features. You get a 500-name phone book, voice-activated dialing (handy when you're using a Bluetooth headset), wireless Web access via Sprint's 1xRTT network, a vibrate mode, SMS messaging, a built-in speakerphone (see the performance section), and picture caller ID. You can customize the phone by downloading a variety of wallpaper, animated screensavers, graphics, and 16-chord polyphonic tones from the Sprint PCS Vision site, though a small fee is required.
Like many new mobiles, the T608 has Java (J2ME), so it supports downloadable games and apps. The phone also takes multiple-key inputs, so you can play games that are a lot more advanced than our favorites, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. We should point out, however, that it takes an exceedingly long time to launch a game, and if you're in the middle of one, it takes even longer to quit and answer the phone.
As noted, the T608 offers Bluetooth connectivity, which we tested with Apple iSync and Motorola's HS800 Bluetooth headset. In both cases, it was a snap to discover and pair the devices. While we were able to use iSync to wirelessly transport our contacts from our Apple 12-inch PowerBook to the T608, it wasn't exactly a quirk-free process. For example, you can sync only one contact or calendar appointment at a time. Additionally, whenever you sync your information, iSync automatically duplicates entries, so you could end up with three identical listings for a single contact in both your phone and your computer.
Testing the Sony Ericsson T608 (CDMA 800/1900) in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area, we found call quality to be generally solid. Callers said we sounded clear and loud. We were particularly impressed with the speakerphone, which featured clear, crisp sound and an excellent mike.
Despite what appeared to be a weak standby battery time, the T608 logged reasonably long talk time; we squeezed out just more than 2.5 hours, which is a half hour more than the phone's rated talk time. Additionally, we got close to four of the nine days of rated standby time, which is acceptable but not stellar.