The most advanced Sony Ericsson camera phone but limited elsewhere. (August 9th, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson
Price: $180 (2-year contract and rebate)
- Near dedicated-quality pictures and camera controls.
- GPS for geotagging and navigation.
- Great screen for this class of device.
- Relatively abundant AT&T software.
- Poor phone usability.
- Aging UIQ operating system is unintuitive.
- Too expensive for what you get.
- Build quality is so-so, particularly for the slider and keypad.
phone features and usability
While we are mildly impressed with the C905's photo taking abilities, we are underwhelmed by it as a cellphone. Sony Ericsson's implementation of the UIQ operating system just seems ungainly compared to some newer phones. The software looks good superficially, but it's not intuitive in reality. We constantly found ourselves having to go through too many steps to accomplish a task and the buttons didnít often seem intuitively mapped to the functions we were using.
During our testing, we found phone call quality to be acceptable with no noticeable echoes or static; the speakerphone volume and clarity were both excellent. Sony claims the C905 has an expected battery life of 360 hours of standby time and 4 hours of talk time while using ATTís 3G network. We would say from experience that these battery figures are representative of what an end user would expect during actual usage ,but it should be noted that heavy camera or data usage will affect these estimates. The active time is also fairly short and will disappoint those expecting the 5-6 hours some smartphones achieve.
In AT&T trim, it does offer a lot of the carrier's typical frills. There are a host of mobile apps ranging from weather to banking to Wikipedia to Yellow Pages to streaming TV; whether you find these useful varies, but it does help differentiate the US carrier's C905 from others. As it has GPS, it also uses AT&T's TeleNav-run Navigator software, but in truth it's not the most effective navigation on this phone. The device took a while to hone in on our location, and as long as Navigator was running the phone would be hot to the touch.
The C905 packs most typical phone features and carries an FM radio tuner, albeit one that needs Sony Ericsson's headset to serve as an external antenna. At times, though, it's frustrating just handling the simple dialing, contacts, and messaging functions. We can tell Sony tried to pack a lot of features into these basic functions but in so doing made them unintuitive and at times unwieldy. In an era where some phones (particularly some touchscreen models) can accomplish both, it's disappointing not to see better balance.
We like the C905's robust feature set, but the lackluster phone user experience leaves us with some reservations in recommending the C905. The mobile software suite, the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, and the excellent camera options are all impressive on their own, but the phone is just hard to use compared to others in its class.
It's best chosen as a digital camera first and a cellphone second. Using it as a primary cellphone will likely leave you feeling confused, and possibly disappointed. Full time photographer looking to slim down their device list, or simply those who use their cameraphones for social networking, are most likely to appreciate it the most. We canít see many other individuals paying the price tag that this phone commands, however, given its poor performance for its ostensible functionality as a phone. At $180 after rebate, the phone is just $20 away from an iPhone 3GS, a BlackBerry Bold, or other phones that may not have the sheer optical quality but are often better-balanced for daily use -- including not just their interfaces but their roles as smartphones, not just a high-powered but software-limited device like the C905.