The V600i -- which is essentially the Vodafone version of the Sony Ericsson K600i -- is a candybar form factor 3G mobile phone, measuring in at 105mm x 45mm x 19mm and weighing in at 105g. Our test model came in a plain black plastic casing and looks remarkably similar to many other Sony Ericsson phones, which is no great suprise. If you've got a design that's popular, you stick with it, and that's exactly what Sony Ericsson has done here.
The V600i's large TFT screen sits above the main dialling buttons and the five way clickable joystick selector. In keeping with the style of most Sony Ericsson phones, the rear of the phone is designed to look as camera-like as possible, including a rectangular sliding shutter that reveals the camera lens and activates the camera application, similar to the shutter found in the higher-end K800i. The rectangular shutter is the only evident design change between the V600i and the similar K600i, as the control shutter on the K600i is in the form of a wheel on the back. One good design touch here is the inclusion of six little braille-style dots on the shutter itself, which makes it very easy to quickly activate the camera functionality, even if you're working in the dark -- or under the influence of certain popular liquids.
The V600i is a 3G capable phone that also supports tri-band GSM (900/1800/1900) connectivity. It's locked to the Vodafone network, but at the time of writing, Vodafone will unlock it simply upon request. It comes with a 1.3-megapixel still camera, MP3 playback features and integration with common PC applications such as Microsoft Outlook via the provided software CD. It'll also manage radio reception, albeit only with the handsfree headset plugged in. That's a very standard limitation for mobile phone radios, however.
Storage on the phone is entirely internal, with 32MB of inbuilt memory available. If you're just keeping your SMS and MMS messages in the v600i it's plenty, but those keen on the MP3 playback features of the phone may find having only 32MB of storage somewhat painful. File management is via the supplied USB cable and the software suite provided with the phone.
One factor that we've hit with an awful lot of equipment that utilises a piano black style like the V600i is that the black plastic is an absolute magnet for fingerprint smudges. It's all too easy to instantly turn your stylish business phone into something that looks like you've just eaten your dinner on it with a quick grab.
Like many Sony Ericsson phones, this isn't a model that's well suited to those with larger digits, as you'll find dialling and selections something of a chore. Then again, there aren't that many models in most vendors 3G ranges that don't seem to fall into this particular trap. On the plus side, Sony Ericsson phones have had simple and easy menu structures for some time now, and the V600i is no exception, making it easy to switch between applications with the flick of a digit.
The v600i's 1.3-megapixel camera works moderately well for still image capture or video calling. Those in need of a camera phone with more grunt would be better served by a more feature rich phone such as the very camera-centric 2-megapixel Nokia N90 or Sony Ericsson's own K800i.
The V600i is rated with a standby time of 360 hours and a talktime of 8 hours. In our testing using phone, text and 3G video functionality in a moderately heavy manner, we averaged around six days inbetween recharges, which is very good for a 3G phone.
The 3G phone market is insanely competitive at the moment, and while the v600i scores high marks for a low asking price, in many cases that's irrelevant. If you are looking to buy outright it represents quite decent value, but those looking to score a cheap contract phone could arguably do better for the same zero price point than the v600i.