Sony Ericsson M600i

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Sony Ericsson M600i
  • Sony Ericsson M600i
  • Sony Ericsson M600i
  • Sony Ericsson M600i

Pros

  • Size and Weight, Push e-mail, Dual function keyboard, Scroll wheel, Display

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi, No Camera, Stylus location, Onboard Memory

Bottom Line

The stylish yet feature packed M600i is an interesting, yet welcome addition to the market. Its lack of WiFi and camera are the only sour points of what is otherwise a solid smart phone.

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Sony Ericsson's new M600i is a compact and lightweight 3G smart phone that includes a 20 button QWERTY keyboard, touch screen and Symbian OS.

The most interesting feature of the M600i is the 20 button QWERTY keyboard. This unique keyboard has two letters assigned to each button. For example, the letters Q and W and symbols ! and / are on the first button. When typing on the keyboard, you press the left side of the button for Q and the right side if you want W (use the shift key if you need the symbols). The middle three rows of keys double as a standard numerical pad. It sounds complicated and does take some time to get used to: after a solid week of testing, we still only managed to type messages and notes slowly. Also, those with large fingers might find the small keyboard buttons difficult.

The 20 key design allows the M600i to have full keyboard support while still being very compact. The 15mm thick, 112gram phone is only 107 x 57mm in size. This is the thinnest smart phone currently available on the market, can slide easily into a pocket or bag, and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

In addition to the keyboard, the M600i also uses a three-way scroll wheel and adjacent back button, located on the left hand side of the phone. This jog dial makes screen navigation very simple; it can be rolled up or down and pressed inwards like a regular button. It can be used to scroll lists, adjust sound volume or move through a multimedia message. It's a very effective way of navigating through the phone, although the 5-way pad as used on the P910i allows full navigation without taking your finger off the pad.

The M600i touch screen is large and clear and is capable of displaying 262,144 colours. It has a respectable viewing angle and can be comfortably read in direct sunlight. The touch screen can be operated via the included stylus or even by finger. The stylus is securely tucked in at the top left of the unit (they are usually located on the right side) so you won't have to worry about losing it.

The M600i uses the Symbian 9.1, UIQ 3 platform and the overall experience is a speedy one. Performance isn't lightning fast but it's certainly on the quicker end of the spectrum for a smart phone. It performs well in everyday tasks, though on a few occasions it struggled with multiple applications open - startup time in particular is a little slow. The Symbian OS (just like the M600i keyboard) does take a bit of time and patience to grasp. If you're used to Windows Mobile or Palm OS', you'll struggle at first but our overall impression is positive.

Equipped with 60MB of internal memory, the M600i also has an M2 (Memory Stick Micro) expansion slot. Located on the left hand side of the phone and covered by a small plastic cover, these new memory sticks are much smaller than the popular Memory Stick Duo. M2 is set to be the primary flash format used by Sony and Sony Ericsson for storage in any new devices. Unfortunately only a 64MB M2 card is included in the sales package so you'll have to buy a larger capacity card if you plan to store multiple applications and multimedia files.

The biggest downfall of the M600i is the lack of native WiFi support. Even if there are plenty of other connectivity options such as Bluetooth, infrared, GPRS and USB, no included WiFi is a disappointment for a smart phone commanding this price. Also absent is a camera which is a strange decision from Sony Ericsson.

The M600i features a range of useful applications, from the standard PIM functions like calculator, calendar, converter, stopwatch and timer to more advanced offerings like Quickoffice (for editing Word and Excel documents) and PDF+ for viewing and editing PDF files. There's also a video and music player (MP3 and AAC files supported), picture viewer and MusicDJ application for editing and creating polyphonic ringtones. Files can be transferred to and from the M600i with the included proprietary USB cable, or via Bluetooth or infrared connectivity.

The M600i supports push e-mail in addition to standard SMS and MMS messaging. Push e-mail delivers any new e-mail messages to the phone just like a normal SMS message. This means you are able to receive and access your e-mails whenever you want - not just when they are sent. We accessed the e-mail function using a standard Yahoo account and the service worked without any problems.

Sony Ericsson rates the M600i battery life at an average 2.5 hours of talk time and 250 hours standby time using a 3G network. When you consider the handset doesn't have a camera or WiFi, this could have been improved. The figures increase to 7.5 hours talk and 340 hours standby time on a standard GSM network. We found ourselves changing the handset every two to three days on average, which is standard for a smart phone. The M600i is charged via an included Sony Ericsson proprietary cable.

Overall, the M600i comes with all the essential features of a smart phone and scores points for its large screen, keyboard, multiple input options and included applications. However the phone isn't perfect with the lack of native WiFi and camera detracting from the overall package.

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