We were impressed by the consistently high quality of call making and taking on this handset. It sounded good in a variety of conditions and did well at hanging on to signals in marginal areas. Volume levels were adequate too.
The C903 put in an acceptable battery performance during our tests. Under optimum conditions, Sony Ericsson reckons on a standby time of up to 350 hours on 3G (400 hours on GSM) or up to 4 hours talktime (10 hours on GSM).
In real conditions, these will depend on how you use the handset's various functions, though in our tests we regularly posted 2 to 3 days between charges – sufficient for this sort of handset.
The C903 slots neatly into the Cyber-shot line-up between the higher-end 8-megapixel C905 sliderphone and the C902 5-megapixel candybar model. Its features line-up sits similarly between the two; it lacks the larger megapixel count and Wi-Fi of the C905 but offers extra A-GPS capability that the C902 doesn't have.
Sony Ericsson C902
Its photo performance matches the C902, but adds geotagging to the lineup. Other features too have been freshened up since last year's model.
The lack of Wi-Fi will be a deal-breaker for some, and is missed when uploading images or video or sometimes browsing. To get this and a similar camera performance plus GPS, older Nokia Nseries smartphones like the N85 and N95 8GB may be good value sliderphone alternatives, or newer higher spec ones like the N86, if your budget stretches.
Sony Ericsson C905
However, some users with deeper pockets may be keener on touchscreen models from Samsung and LG, like the Viewty Smart or Tocco Ultra Edition.