The new Sony Ericsson K810i is probably the perfect mobile phone for those who want it all but don't want to pay a fortune for it for it. This candybar-styled handset makes do without a flip mechanism or slider, but when you take a look at what it can do it puts most of its rivals to shame.
The K810i is a fully-fledged 3G phone, offering all the latest high-speed downloads and video. But this is just the starting point. As the Cyber-shot branding bears testament, the K810i is not just a cameraphone - it provides a high quality digital photographic experience.
As well as a 3.2-megapixel sensor, it provides complete automatic control over the focusing, allowing you to get sharp pictures whatever the subject distance.
Not only can you take macro-style pictures, but there is also a proper xenon-gas-filled flash to provide a bright burst of flash to brighten up your subject. There's a camcorder too, which benefits particularly from the neat teamwork of the 16x digital zoom and the wobble-busting image stabiliser.
And all this comes in a body that is just 17mm thick, and with an all up weight that is just 103g.
In addition to those over-the-air broadband services that come with 3G, the K810i comes with full web browsing and a useful RSS news feed reader. MP3 music is well supported thanks to a Memory Stick Micro (M2) memory card slot and stereo Bluetooth streaming capability.
There's even a built-in FM radio with support for RDS. And when it comes to exchanging files you can also wirelessly hook up using infrared too.
Buy this phone with a contract tariff, and you won't have to spend much a month to get it for free. SIM free it is being sold for around £210; it is almost certain that many of the networks will be touting this phone to its pre-pay customers soon too.
The K810i is the upgraded version of the landmark Cyber-shot-branded K800i. The numberpad has been completely remodeled, and the buttons are now neat silver circles, a transformation that makes the phone look much more appealing. There's a new colour too - a deep blue that looks almost black.
The lens cover has also been changed so that it is much more difficult for it to open accidentally as you carry it around; this not only protects the lens beter, but helps save battery power, as opening the lens shield automatically activates the camera.
The camera is definitely one of the K810i's strong points. You not only get a good helping of resolution if you choose the best recording settings, but you can really harness the power of these pixels when shooting close-ups.
The ability to shoot from a few inches away from the subject may not seem that important, but you can take an image of a drawing or paragraph of text, so you can reference them later without the need to take notes. The exposure from the camera is very good, showing a good range of tones in a wide variety of lights.
You get quite a lot of noise in lowlight levels, if you are out of effective flash range, but the subject matter is still recognisable - and that's a great improvement of the performance of some cameraphones.
For the average user, however, it is the quality of the portraits that really mark the camera out as being better than average. Skintones are correctly coloured, not overly sharpened and free from distracting artefacts.
Although not a Sony Ericsson Walkman phone, the K810i is still an admirable musical performer. We were pleasantly pleased with the rendition of our test tracks. There's good bass and an absence of distortion when the volume is cranked up high.
The supplied headsets are a reasonable in-box bonus. And although investing in an M2 memory card is almost essential for the audiophile (or photographer, for that matter), the handset does come with a reasonable 64MB of onboard memory.
Amidst our enthusiasm for the K810i, it is important that potential purchasers understand what this phone isn't. Despite the web browsing, video conferencing and email facilities, this is not a handset designed specifically for the business user. It's not just that it is not a smartphone, it has no built-in converters for viewing Word documents, or other digital file attachments.
But on the other side, this phone is a cracking 3G handset that offers a wide range of features for your money. It entertains at every turn, with its video and music editing facilities for example. But it also does the basics well. This a great phone for simply making and taking calls - and when you use it to take pictures the shots are unlikely to disappoint.
Its superslim new profile, better battery life and improved styling from the K800i make a great handset even better. Highly recommended.
Ease of use 9
Call quality 9