Sony Ericsson is releasing high-end handsets en masse, with the 8-megapixel C905 and W902 Walkman handset hitting the shelves. The T303 takes a different approach, focusing on the budget, fashion market.

The dinky slider is just 83 x 47 x 14.7mm, which will fit in almost any pocket, and is super-light too at just 93g. The design is simple but effective. The casing is silver brushed metal and there’s even a flower-patterned battery cover to swap with the plain one if you so wish.

On the front of the slider, you’ll find a four-way navigation button with hard to reach select button in the centre. As is the norm, call answer and end keys also make an appearance, with two softkeys above them. However, they’re not chunky, easy to press softkeys. Instead, they’re ultra-skinny bars that make accessing key features quite a task. The numeric keys are also a little awkward to use quickly. Each is hardly refined and because of the size of the T303, they’re small too.

Also taking a hit from the dimensions of the T303 is the screen. The paltry 1.8-incher will leave you squinting at every operation. However, a mirrored coating means you can use it to see your reflection...

The camera reverts back 2 years to 1.3-megapixels, and snaps aren’t of any high quality. The lack of flash means you’re limited to taking snaps in bright conditions and even mid-lit places leave photos grainy.

There is an MP3 player, and rather invitingly, an FM radio to kill boredom on the way to work. If you were planning on packing the T303 to the rafters with your favourite tunes, you will be disappointed to find out that there’s only 8MB of onboard storage, with no option to expand this with a microSD card. As there is no 3.5mm jack on the phone, you’ll have to use the supplied headphones that leave a little to be desired.

Unlike on the mid- and high-end Sony Ericsson devices, the operating system is a little basic. This doesn’t cause any problems, and makes it easier to use for those with little mobile experience.

There is a Java-based browser on the T303, but it doesn’t come close to the quality as seen on other devices. Obviously, the size of the screen has a huge impact on the usability of the browser, as does the fact it’s only GPRS enabled, but it’s not even simple to navigate around a page, as rendering takes forever.

Verdict

For the most important functions of a mobile phone, the T303 is prime. Call quality is loud and clear and although keys are a little small, it’s easier to text on the T303 than it is on other low-end devices.

Serious omissions including a full version of the Sony Ericsson’s proprietary interface and a microSD slot are downers, but as a budget handset for making and taking phonecalls plus sending the odd text, the Sony Ericsson T303 is a stylish, pocket-friendly mobile phone, perfectly suited to young children with small fingers.