‘Vive la Change', as the French don't often say. But with the 910i I have been left wondering what real change? Having got my grubby little paws on the P900 back in April, this year, I was genuinely impressed with what seemed to be an all round mobile office solution. Six months later and another, oh so similar, device arrives. So what's the difference?
If you go by the metrics on Sony Ericsson's website, the 910i has swelled an inexplicable 1mm in both width and depth, over the last half year. This ‘phone-phat' may also explain why the mobile has gained 5 more grams. The numeric keyboard on the front flip has been altered to more useable keys. These are larger more pronounced and less likely to have fingers slip off them when dialling. To counteract this stroke of design worthiness though, a new QWERTY keyboard has been added to the inside of the flap. This verges on being so small, as to be only just plausible as a means of data input, but with some skill you can get content into the device. As with the P900, the flap is removable at least, so if you get too frustrated you can rip this carbuncle off the front and bin it. At least the 5-way jog wheel and micro-thin stylus remain the same as it ever was.
The screen is the same touch sensitive TFT 208x320 pixels 265,000 colour as on the P900. The operating system has been upgraded to Symbian OS7.0 and even though the graphical interface is still basically the same as before, its appearance looks more rounded and polished. Internal memory has also been expanded. The original P900's has been upgraded to a generous 64 Mb in the 910i. Same goes for the Memory stick expansion port. The latest version supports Memory stick Duo Pro, which means if the mood takes you can super size the 910i with up to 1Gb of additional storage.
Connectivity has improved as well. I remember the numerous attempts in trying to get the P900 online and failing. With the P910i, either the settings interface has got simpler or I have leant from my ‘failure in the cave', as Yoda would say. Along with GPRS and WAP, you also get Bluetooth, IR and cradle sync to keep things up to date. The onboard contacts and schedule programme synchronise happily enough with MS Outlook. Be warned though, if your contact list is large, this can take quite a while the first time. Sony Ericsson also boast the 910i is more compatible with corporate e-mail systems, now being able to access RIM clients, presumably so they can mount a serious market challenge to Blackberry. On the phone front, the reception is still Tri-band GSM and the battery life is an admirable 20 days (480 hours), although with Bluetooth and any number of application all blazing away, this will be affected dramatically.
Multi-media usability has been enhanced with this model as well. The new ‘QuickShare' system makes it possible to take, and send a picture, to another MMS handset, in just 6 clicks. On the included software CD-ROM's you also get a couple of image tweaking programmes, so you can play around with your 910i's snaps to your hearts content. The MP3 player gave me some problems with the transference of music, but it would be disingenuous if I didn't lay the blame at the door of my PC. On the other hand the section in the user guide explaining about the MP3 player glosses over how to transfer data and you have to hunt through the manual to find out how it's done.
Overall the P910i should be regarded a turbocharged version of its predecessor. The design of the device has been only slightly improved and the keyboard is not where I would have spent my time with the designers. The P910i is fast, durable and functional. I bet all those early adopters who bough a P900 must be cursing Sony Ericsson now. In future it might be wiser to make the firmware and memory increasingly expandable, and future-proof, rather than having to launch ever so slightly larger models to highlight the changes within.