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Summary:

Ever since I interviewed Sony Ericsson president Urban Gillstrom a few months back-and noticed that he, along with the other Ericsson folks visiting the Business 2.0 mothership -were all carrying the S710, I’ve been eager to get my hands on one. I believed then, and am […]

s710a.jpgEver since I interviewed Sony Ericsson president Urban Gillstrom a few months back-and noticed that he, along with the other Ericsson folks visiting the Business 2.0 mothership -were all carrying the S710, I’ve been eager to get my hands on one. I believed then, and am convinced now, that this may be the heir to Sony Ericsson’s T610, their most popular phone to date.

After spending the past several days using the S710a (the kind folks at Sony Ericsson let me grab one from their booth at CES) it’s already apparent that it features a level of sophistication that eludes most mobiles. The baseline specs are impressive-EDGE-capable, Tri-band GSM, built-in Bluetooth, Memory Stick Duo, 1.3 megapixel camera-but that’s not what sets it apart. Rather, it’s the way the S710a manages to integrate all of these features so that all of the highlights are easily accessible and, more importantly, easy to use.

It’s an important distinction. While phones like the Motorola A630 or the LG VX7000 offer similar features, they are often hard to use (or even find)-the UI on the A630, in particular, defies comprehension-the S710’s user interface is clear and easy to navigate. It’s a swivel phone, meaning the keyboard flips out from behind the gorgeous 262,000 color screen, but the navigation tool and menu buttons are on the front of the phone, so even with the keyboard stowed away you can still receive calls, surf the web and do just about anything except make calls. Sony Ericsson also included an easy to use file manager to help keep track of pictures, ringtones, and downloaded applications-which makes it easy to find any content on the device.

And you will be creating content. Perhaps the S710’s biggest triumph is the camera. Not only does it look just like a Sony Cybershot from the back, but the phones powerful camera is on par with many of the low-cost digital cameras on the market. You can choose between four sizes, ranging from 160X120 (good for folks viewing your pictures with other cameraphones) to 1280×960, which means these pictures will look good on your PC. The S710 also packs a remote viewer application which means you can send a slideshow of your pictures, via Bluetooth, to a PC or TV (with an adapter) and view it on a bigger screen. You can send photos or MPEG 4 videos via email, Bluetooth, IR or MMS, and the device also includes a built-in light for taking photos in the dark.

My testing period has been-as mentioned-somewhat short, but I have yet to experience any problems with dropped calls or bad network coverage. I’ve been using it all over San Francisco pretty much non-stop since I got it and haven’t had a problem yet. Call quality is something to monitor: The big ding on Sony Ericsson’s T610 was a crap antenna that made dropped calls commonplace. I recommend using your phone a lot in the first few weeks to see if there are any glaring problem areas in your normal route between work, home, etc. (Both Cingular and T-Mobile-the two companies to carry the S710-will let you return a phone within two weeks, so you do have a trial period to work with.)

There are some potential problem areas. Though gorgeous, the screen is always uncovered so it could get scratched. Also, I can’t understand why Sony Ericsson didn’t make this a Symbian phone-but it doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience, so I’m keeping an open mind. Also, the device comes with a 32MB Memory Stick, though I filled that up pretty quick-it would have been nice to get a larger card to start with, but that’s a minor point. It also doesn’t support MS Pro Duo or MagicGate, which as far as I was concerned was just fine.

It’s too early to anoint this the phone of the year or anything like that, but Sony Ericsson has certainly come out swinging, with arguably its best phone to date. (I have no love for the P910-too much of a brick for my taste.) In addition to all of the above, it has a great MP3 player, can be used as a remote control for your PC, and will even wake your over-sleeping ass up in the morning thanks to its (highly annoying) alarm. Taken as a whole, this may be the best feature phones on the market.

Review by Matt Maier, wireless and gizmo correspondent for Business 2.0 magazine. Subscribe to his Weekly Wireless Report.

  1. Sony Ericsson S710a: Reviewed Like a Winner

    First things first: how do you get a name as cool as Sony Ericsson President’s Urban Gillstrom, short of starring in your own 2D Japanese fighting game? All I’ve got is this alliterative one that makes me sound like heading…

    COMMENT:
    AUTHOR: David Warner

    I’d still rather have a full-alphabet keyboard, but I’m picky that way. Plus, after one year, I still suck at typing text messages on a numeric keypad…

    COMMENT:
    AUTHOR: Matthew Maier

    Been following this phone for awhile (from when the international model was released as S700i).

    Couple of notes from my research…
    1) menu and CPU tends to lag(delay) 2) those who are afraid the phone is too big (like me) need not worry. It isn’t TOO big (i held it at a store) and the fact the most of the surface area is taken up by the beautiful sceen makes the size eazy to overlook 3) the review above doesn’t mention how expensive this phone is. although I have not seen official US prices, expect it to be at least $400-450.

    Hope this helps people that are interested.

    COMMENT:
    AUTHOR: Armin

    There’s only one thing missing: The Apple iTunes Phone Edition thats built into the new motorola phone. But as I own an iPod, the S710 will most likely be the successor to my T610.

    COMMENT:
    AUTHOR: steve olechowski

    i’ve been carrying around the S700 (same thing with no EDGE) for awhile no and this is an awesome, awesome camera with a phone. I have had no problems with it after 2 months of heavy use.

    for more thoughts, see:

    http://www.burningdoor.com/steve/archives/000773.html

    http://www.burningdoor.com/steve/archives/000832.html

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  2. this is a great phone and all but id rather not pay the entire $399+ for it. BUT for all you out there feeling the same, i have found a site where they sell it for only $40! to get it for the same price email me at beairbed7@comcast.net

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  3. Does this model work in INDIA ?Please can anyone tell that.

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  4. This phone pretty much has everything you need. The MP3s sound great with the head phones (mediocre on the speakers). The camera is awesome as is the screen. I haven’t had any problems with the menus.The only drawback is the memory available. The onboard memory (32MB) can fill up really fast with pics and MP3s (especially if you want to use them for your contacts picture and ringtones). Their is an expansion card but it only supports Memory Stick Duo of which the greatest capacity is 128 MB. There is no way to get around this and no plan to do so in the future (according to Sony). However, with the appropriate tools, an 128 MB card can hold up to 40 full length songs. I just carry a couple cards in my case loaded with different songs. Inconvenient yes, but workable still.

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  5. This is the most amazing phone i’ve ever used. i had a moto v188.. wasn’t really happy but i had a cell phone… almost bought a razr.. i’m SSOO glad i didn’t i got this one for free… with a broken screen i replaced it myself (relatively easy repair if you know small electronics) for 50 bucks total… awesome phone.. great media player MP3s MP$ and AAC from iTunes playable.. i can stream ENTIRE FULL LENGTH VIDEOS from my home pc to my phone.. i just recently watvhed pirates of the caribbean only thing i want that it doesn’t have.. is full screen video.

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