Sony Ericsson T616 (AT&T)
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Bite-size: The T616 is just slightly larger than the popular T68i.
The T616--which is available in several colors but doesn't support changeable faceplates--cuts a fine figure. Measuring 4 by 1.7 by 0.7 inches and weighing a mere 3.4 ounces, this candy bar-style phone fits easily in a pocket or the palm of your hand. The stylish case is susceptible to smudges, however; we often found ourselves wiping fingerprint smears off the screen. Also, flip-phone aficionados may find it awkward to hold the small T616 up to their ears.
The generous 65,000-color LCD gives you all the standard information, including time, date, caller ID, signal strength, a battery indicator, and the status of the Bluetooth and infrared ports. The screen also doubles as a viewfinder for the built-in camera; just click a dedicated button on the side of the phone to activate the camera, and hit it again to take a picture.
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Button-friendly: The four-way rocker and the surrounding buttons are used to navigate through the phone's menus.
On the top of the phone, you'll find the power button and the IR port, while easy-access controls (including buttons for the camera/shutter release, one-step Internet/WAP access, and volume) grace the left and right sides. Below the screen is a four-way rocker key for navigating the T616's intuitive, icon-driven menus. We had a few problems dialing numbers and typing out text messages with the T616's tactile, illuminated keypad but otherwise had no other major ergonomic complaints. However, if you're toting the phone in a bag or a pocket, we recommend activating the keypad-lock feature to keep from making accidental calls.
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You look fabulous: The tiny mirror next to the camera lens is ideal for snapping self-portraits.
The T616 comes with a laundry list of features, including 23 polyphonic ring tones, a vibrate mode, five-way conference calling, caller ID, voicemail, POP and IMAP e-mail access, text and multimedia messaging (MMS), voice recording, wireless Web access, an 80-item to-do list, e911 support, and voice-activated dialing and commands. Missing from the list, however, is an integrated speakerphone. You'll find that the phone has only two preinstalled games: Colourbug and Q*bert, although you can download other games (along with additional ring tones, wallpaper, pictures, and apps) from the AT&T and Cingular Web sites.
Ready to snap some pictures? Just click the dedicated camera button on the left side of the camera, aim the lens (located on the back of the phone), and hit the button again to shoot. The pictures we took were surprisingly crisp for a camera phone, but don't expect professional-quality snapshots. You can take pictures in low (120x160) and high (288x352) resolutions and even add color effects, such as black-and-white, sepia, and negative tones. There's also a Night Mode that increases the exposure in poorly lit environments, as well as a tiny mirror next to the camera lens that lets you frame self-portraits. Just don't get too trigger-happy; the phone has a meager 2MB of memory. Unless you delete some extra games or ring tones, you'll probably have room for only 60 pictures, each of which average about 30K. Since the phone is MMS ready, you can share pictures with other MMS-ready mobiles supported by your carrier.
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Cool tones: Besides the normal settings, you can also snap shots in sepia, black-and-white, and negative tones.
The T616 is easy to customize. You can use your pictures as the phone's screensaver or wallpaper and choose from four preinstalled themes (more can be downloaded). You can also associate your friends' pictures and specific ring tones with their names in the phone book. If you're musically inclined, compose your own tones with the Music DJ. Budding artists can use a simple image editor to draw rudimentary pictures, which can then be sent to buddies or used as wallpaper.
Armed with both Bluetooth and IR ports, the T616 excels at sharing pictures, ring tones, and contacts. You can also sync with your desktop PIM via Bluetooth and IR. Our Bluetooth-enabled Apple iBook quickly recognized the T616, and our contacts and calendars were synced within minutes. An annoying quirk of the T616's calendar, however, is that it doesn't support all-day events; if you have any such events in your PIM, they won't show up on the phone. Another bug is that the phone's "auto time-zone" feature, which supposedly syncs the phone automatically to the time zone you're in, kept switching us from daylight-savings to standard time, thus setting all our appointments back an hour. We fixed the problem by turning off the feature.
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Travel-friendly: The T616's compact charger takes up minimal room in a briefcase or suitcase.
We tested this world phone (GSM 850/1800/1900) in the New York metropolitan area and found sound quality to be exceptional. Callers told us that our signals were loud and clear, and many noted that they couldn't tell we were talking on a cell phone.
For talk time, the T616 clocked in at a mere 2 hours, which was 3 hours shy of the company's rating of 5 hours. As for standby time, the phone fared better with a respectable rating of 5.5 days, or 132 hours, compared to the company's claims of 310 hours.
We had no problems transmitting files via Bluetooth. Our 14-inch Apple iBook found the T616 within seconds, and soon we were trading files, contacts, and appointments without a hitch.