Another phone review for y’all, and yet another one of my personal favourites…in fact the first phone which really made me feel like I’d arrived in terms of tech, and for all intensive purposes my first phone which could still get by today bar a few details.
I had wanted an Ericsson phone since one was used in 1997’s James Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies, well actually since I had seen the film which was several years later, but I still had a soft spot for the brand. From a ‘tween’ perspective in the early 00’s, Sony Ericsson (formed after the merger of Sony’s phone arm and Ericsson) made some of the coolest handsets on the market. The T68i was the first phone I ever saw which had not only a colour screen, but Bluetooth AND a camera! Admittedly the camera was separate accessory but nevertheless it was the phone to have in school. It’s successor, the T610, built upon this and the camera was integrated into the phone. More than this though, the design of the phone was an instant classic, and in fact looking back at pictures of it now I am inspired to have a look on eBay because the phone is that good looking.
With the T610 being a top seller it was a hard phone to replace, and its success had not gone unnoticed at Nokia where it readied its all-conquering 6230 to take on the might of SE’s offering. I was deeply smitten with both phones when it came to replacing my brick-like NEC clamshell, but before I had chance to make the plunge Sony Ericsson released the K700i as its new mainstream flagship model.
Camera’s were still a relatively new focus for phone manufacturers in these days, but whilst Nokia had launched the first mainstream megapixel phone (in the form of the 7610), it was Sony Ericsson which had gone all out to develop a flagship model, the S700, which came with 1.3 megapixels and importantly autofocus; this came wrapped in a twisting design which whilst bulky mimicked the appearance of a digital camera. This design feature was one that was present on the K700i and quickly became its selling point. Nokia were still focusing on the business market with the sober 6230, which at the time actually appealed more because of its expandable memory and popularity amongst people at school, but after thorough research and doing my sums (ie what could I afford) I decided that the silver Sony Ericsson was the one for me.
I remember opening the box and being enthralled at how tiny the phone was; wider yet shorter than the opposition, the K700i had a beautiful screen (larger and with more colours than the opposition) and tasteful chrome accents. The plastic construction of the phone was not as classy or memorable as its predecessor but nonetheless it still looks modern today. The buttons themselves were a point of contest for many reviewers as it was claimed they were too bunched up and hard to press, personally I had no real trouble when texting but I did find that after a years use the joystick in the center of the phone did seem abit unresponsive, a problem that got worse after my mum took on the phone afterwards. On the back of the phone however, was the shape of things to come in regards to camera-led focus. A protruding lens and a dedicated camera button made the phone look similar to a proper digital camera, and whilst it did not have a lens shutter this was apparently something removed late in the design process.
The camera itself was not amazing…VGA (equivalent to 0.3 megapixels) and with only a 4x digital zoom meant that the phone was no competition for real cameras, but it was reasonable for the time and also came with video recording which at the time was still a novelty. To use the phone was a massive improvement on anything I had owned before, and my personal opinion is that it was alot nicer than the Series 40 operating system that was being used in Nokia models of the time. Stand out features included a radio that could be used when the headphones were in place, the ability to play MP3 files (those that could fit on the phone’s memory) and the all important Bluetooth, which at the time was just used for exchanging pictures/ringtones/videos.
Being a huge success meant that there were few negatives to the phone…I have already mentioned the longevity of the joystick, and to a modern user the lack of a memory card would rule it out for anybody wanting to have any music, or even high quality pictures. I also seem to recall that battery life was not stellar, but compared to modern phones I doubt very much that I would have complaints now.
My time with the K700i was limited to a little under a year, and I strongly considered replacing it with its successor, the K750i, which fixed the vast majority of the phone’s problems with a memory card expansion slot and 2 megapixel camera with autofocus. The K750i was also the first ‘Cybershot’ branded phone which completed the transition of a camera into the primary selling point of phones. Instead though I bought the phone’s twin, the W800i which was essentially the same phone but with a bright orange colour scheme and chrome details, and Walkman branded as opposed to Cybershot. This in itself was an important landmark for the mobile industry but I will cover that in another review sometime.