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Sony Ericsson T616 (AT&T) review: Sony Ericsson T616 (AT&T)

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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.

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