If I wasn’t forced to upgrade my phone when I moved from an AT&T plan to a Cingular plan, I probably would have gotten another year out of my T616. With this being the case (and after a terrible experience with a Siemens S66) I got my Sony Ericsson S710a a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the review.
Let’s start with the form. The S710a is a swivel form phone. The face swings around to reveal the keypad. I don’t like moving parts. I don’t like flip phone. I really only like the bar style phones. For me, moving parts means more things to break. With the S710a, I can definitely see the swivel becoming unreliable a year from now after extensive use. Thank god for insurance. My first impressions was this was a big phone. After using it these last 2 weeks, it’s really not that big. You can definitely notice it in your pocket, but it’s not bad at all. It’s a little heavier than it needs to be considering most of it is high-grade plastic. They keypad is very nice. The buttons are flushed with the surface and there is a definitive click when fully pressed. Overall, I’m not very happy with the form. it’s bigger, heavier, and moving more than it needs to be.
The screen is absolutely beautiful. It’s large, bright, completely visible in daylight, and is capable of displaying 262k colors over its 240 x 320 pixel display. It is easily the best screen I’ve seen on a phone. The sound is good. It’s loud and clear when using it against your ear. The speakerphone could be a bit louder. The signal is great. I have Cingular in the Los Angeles area and the S710a picks up a noticeably stronger signal than my old T616.
No matter how many extras a phone has, it’s always a phone first. Now that we know the keypad works well, I can see everything on the screen, and the signal is strong, let’s see how the other basic functions perform. The user interface is what you’d expect from Sony Ericsson. It’s clean, intuitive, and easy to navigate. There is a bit of lag moving from item to item within the UI. It’s a little annoying, but easily overlooked. Contact input and lookup is a cinch. Text input for messaging, e-mail, and web is as simple as it could be without a full QWERTY keypad. Even with all of the extras on the S710a (which I’ll get to soon), Sony Ericsson didn’t lose focus and made basic phone functions work great.
Now let’s hit some of the extra functions of the S710a. First and foremost is its 1.3 mega-pixel still camera. The images are large and beautiful when taken with lots of light. Outdoor images look great. Low light shots are a bit grainy, but you can compensate for this a little bit with the built-in light. There is also a video option on the phone. It works ok. Nothing great, but it’s nice to know it’s there if ya need it. You can shoot as many still shots and video that can fill up whatever MemoryStick Duo card you decide to use.
Web browsing is done through Cingular’s MEdia service and the S710a supports EDGE technology. Remember when you upgraded your home dial-up service to broadband service? Well that’s what it feels like to have a phone moving data through EDGE. Browsing and downloads are fast. EDGE was a big reason why I went with the S710a and I couldn’t be happier.
Alright, the largest deal breaker with me is connectivity to a computer and syncing capabilities with my address book, calendar, and other PIM applications. I’m happy to say that through Bluetooth, I can perfectly sync the S710a with my Mac (through iSync) and PC (through Sony’s software). It’s an amazing and beautiful thing when it works and it couldn’t be any simpler with my Mac.
With everything that’s going on in the S710a, you would think there’s absolutely no battery life what so ever. Well it’s definitely not as good as my T616 was, but you can easily get a couple of days out of the S710a before you need to hook it back up for a charge. I charge every night anyway so I really don’t see too much of a difference between my T616 and the S710a.
This review has been long enough. Time for some conclusions. The good greatly outweighs the bad on the S710a. The swivel style, oversized, and overweight form factor is easily overlooked once you look at that beautiful screen, hear the clear sound, play with the excellent imaging features, browse with EDGE support, and sync flawlessly with your computer. There’s definitely room for improvements, but I’m not in a rush to see them. The Sony Ericsson S710a exceeds my needs and expectation and I can see a long, fruitful relationship with it.