Sony Ericsson C901 review: Cyber-shot reloaded

GSMArena team, 6 October 2009.
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Traditional phonebook

The phonebook has space for 1000 contacts and 7000 numbers. You can choose to view contacts in the phone memory or on SIM, but not both. Either way you can set up the phone to autosave to SIM all contacts that are being saved to the phone memory. You can also back up your contacts list on the memory card and restore it from there.

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The Sony Ericsson C901 phonebook

Editing a contact employs a tabbed interface that’s well known for anyone that has used a Sony Ericsson handset in the past couple of years. There are five tabs that group related contact details. The first tab is for names and numbers, next up is web addresses such as e-mails and URLs. The third tab is for storing a picture, a custom ringtone, group, message tone and voice command, the fourth is for postal details and finally the fifth has fields for a note and a birthday (which you can add to the Calendar too).

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Tabs keep things in order

The name of the contact is written in only one field, but you still have the option to order contacts by first or last name. The phone guesses which is which and it does it very well. Naturally, you can search through the contacts list by gradual typing.


Handling of calls is excellent and we didn't experience any voice quality or reception problems with the Sony Ericsson C901. Call clarity is great in both the earpiece and speakerphone.

Sony Ericsson C901 offers videocall functionality, but since there is no front-facing videocall camera, it's more like videocall sharing - meaning that you can see the other party on your display but you can only share what your primary camera "sees".

Smart dialing or “Smart Search” as Sony Ericsson call it, is a great boost to usability. It looks up contacts whose numbers contain the digits you have typed or whose names begin with the corresponding letters.

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Smart dialing makes life easier

The tabbed Call Log application should be familiar too if you've used a fairly recent Sony Ericsson handset. It displays in four tabs, including All, Answered (Received), Dialed and Missed. When there are several calls made to or from a single contact, only the last one gets displayed.

While conducting our traditional speakerphone test with Sony Ericsson C901 we discovered some new ringtones preloaded, which we really enjoyed. However, the maximum volume was a bit disappointing and the device scored average. Here is how it compares to some of the other handsets we have tested. You can find information on the actual testing process, along with the full list of tested devices here.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Nokia N8270.262.165.9Below Average
Sony Ericsson C90166.565.171.7Average
Nokia 6700 classic75.166.675.7Good
Sony Ericsson C90268.872.278.2Very Good
LG KC55074.973.582.8Excellent

Messaging sports threaded view

Typical for the latest Sony Ericsson phones, the C901 sports the threaded messages view. SMS to and from a certain contact is organized in speech bubbles much like in an instant messenger.

Switching between the conversation-style layout and the regular Inbox is only a matter of toggling a tab.

Another interesting fact is that if you get a reply while you're still in the thread, it will be automatically added to the conversation, instead of appearing as an alert on the home screen.

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The the messaging department

Along with the standard messaging functionality, Sony Ericsson C901 offers the proprietary Manage Messages feature, plenty of settings for accounts and the option to assign categories to messages.

The Manage Messages application enhances message handling. Messages can be moved to memory card or phone memory, arranged by categories, date, size, and contact. Categories also allow quick and comfortable sorting of messages with separate folders.

There is also a rich T9 dictionary. The SMS and MMS messages share an editor; when typing SMS you can easily convert it into an MMS via the options menu or using the attach-stuff toolbar below the text box to insert images, animations, videos or sounds.

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Converting an SMS into a MMS is just as easy as it gets

The phone automatically downloaded the settings for our Gmail account. The options to view messages full screen and change font size really helped get a lot of text on the screen. Even at the smallest font setting text remained legible.

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The comfortable e-mail with some of the options

For email you get the Manage Email feature, which has the same functionality as the one for text messages. Saving attachments is problem-free, even if the phone doesn't recognize the file type.

Unfortunately, the Sony Ericsson C901 (much like all other Sony Ericsson feature phones) can't preview any documents including the ones attached to emails (such as .xls, .doc, or .pdf files for example) due to the lack of any document reader.

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