Sony Ericsson P800 smartphone

With the mobile phone and PDA divisions coming closer together everyday, the P800 is one such device that tries to bridge the gap. Phone by day, organiser by night, the end results are mixed.

On the plus side the phone features a larger 3” colour touch screen display, the ability to take a Memory Stick Duo card as well as a containing a built in digital camera for MMS messaging. On the downside though, the phone is both large, heavy and build quality and design stands on a dubious footing.

The first oddity you'll notice is that while the phone offers a very swanky crystal clear display that is very bright, Sony Ericsson has done its best to cover this up with a clunky plastic keypad that flips up to access the screen. The plastic keypad has obviously be introduced to appeal to those not so forward thinking in the idea that touching a screen will suffice and further inspection noted that those confident enough could remove said keypad and live a new aged life. What makes this even more ironic is that the keypad is the lowest tech part of the phone and in fact only presses down on characterised keys underneath.

As will all touch screen based PDAs, you need a stylus and Ericsson has included one for you to use with this phone. Here lies the first problem. Rather than take on a system that has been adopted by most, including the Sony Clié, the P800's stylus fits uncomfortably on the side in a position that is only likely to snap off or get lost after a few days of usage. Sony seems aware of this problem and contained in the box where an additional four stylus sticks to break or loose.

Once we had got over the phone’s love affair with plastic we noted our third major design fault. How to access the Memory Stick Duo? Remove the stylus and all is revealed, that is if you have small enough fingers to access it. Of course you can use the stylus in a sort of “jam the thing in approach” but when you've just spent your hard earned cash you don't want to have to compromise at the first hurdle.

Taking of compromise, the fourth fault - this is the last one, honest - is the placing of the camera on the back of the phone. Talking to users of the phone and using it extensively ourselves we found that our lens was constantly smudged. Why I hear you ask? Well when you think about it makes perfect sense. It is in exactly the right place to get your fingers dirty when you hold the phone.

Is there anything good about this phone then? Well actually yes. Faults aside this is a very good phone that has a very good menu system (similar to the T68). Choices are clear, and you don't get bogged down in recurring circles as you can with so many other models on the market. The additional advantage of the large screen means viewing a month-by-month calendar or playing a game of chess isn't a problem. Better still the phone doubles up as an MP3 and video player with the quality of both better than expected. If that wasn't enough the docking station or use of removable memory storage certainly add to the plus points.

Verdict

It is a shame therefore that this phone is marred by such silly problems that could have been fixed at the design stage. Hopefully newer models will feature all the good things mentioned here and drop the bad. At the heart of it, you've got a very good phone (working on the Symbian platform) that offers plenty of features. More to the point those features actually work. Whether it's the blue tooth capabilities or the jotter that allow you to write on screen, this phone gets to the race, is winning but falls at the last hurdle.