Sony Ericsson G700 preview: Smartphone in disguise
The UIQ user interface has gotten better
Sony Ericsson have put a great deal of effort in optimizing the UIQ user interface for thumb use. Some controls have gotten bigger - especially the multimedia and camera ones. You have a vast array of user-configurable shortcuts at your disposal to make everyday tasks easier. The Notes application has also received an upgrade and is now among the phone's main organizing features - a welcome change as we prefer notes over to-do lists for keeping track of our daily schedule.
You won't hear us comment on the features of the UIQ smartphone interface here. Those remain the same throughout the Sony Ericsson latest phones and if you are interested in finding out more you're welcome to return to our Sony Ericsson W960 review - all beside the Walkman today screen is valid for the G700.
Here are the additional interface themes that come preloaded on the G700. As you will notice they don't change that much, but all of them are more eye pleasing than the default one.
Now straight to the important stuff. Among the biggest changes are the new organizing shortcuts on the Home screen. You can scroll horizontally through them with the flick of a finger and they are user-configurable - you can add more as you wish. Those tabs make life easier for repetitive daily things such as calling home, sending messages or adding to-do tasks. The possibilities are hardly limited.
The Notes application has been upgraded with the Sony Ericsson G700 and now it's pitched as a serious organizing application. It has even got a dedicated shortcut key on the keypad.
The notes you create now resemble the sticky notes some of us like to stick around their desk or on the fridge. They can combine drawings, written or typed text and they can change colors for easier sorting.
The options don't end here - now you can add alarms to your notes, send them via MMS or Bluetooth, upload them to your blog or file them in separate folders, such as Business, Personal or Urgent.
Those upgrades are welcome but the need for a dedicated Notes key on the keypad still remains questionable to us.
The task manger that comes with the UIQ interface has also been changed. Previously, opening it presented you with a list of recently opened applications, and the actual list of running applications was hidden on a second tab. Now the recent applications tab has disappeared, and the list of running applications appears as a pop-up, really neat and convenient.
Sony Ericsson G700 comes with the Media Center that we've seen on some of the latest Sony Ericsson feature phones. It provides one-click access to your photos, music, and video. You are able to sort music by filters as year, genre, albums, tracks, playlists, podcasts, etc. If you want to find a particular song, but know just a part of its name, don't worry, just type it in, and the phone will automatically find and display it.
The Media Center also supports changing the screen orientation.
The video player has large controls that allow easy thumb operation.
Browsing images is as fun as on the Sony Ericsson K850. The Meida center photo gallery is a convenient tool for managing a vast collection of camera photos with great customization capabilities. Photo Tags allows you to tag an image with a custom tag of your own thus making filtering easier.
The slideshow function is readily available as soon as you open any image fullscreen. Before they start, you are asked to pick a mood and the handset plays the animated slideshows with background music to suit the chosen mood. The transition style of the slideshow also varies according to the mood.
The camera interface is also spanking new
The UIQ camera interface we've come to know from previous models was poor on user-friendliness. The Sony Ericsson G700 however comes with a brand new camera that is really intuitive, it's full of helpful hints and most important of all - it's optimized for thumb operation.
Unfortunately the G700 3 megapixel camera doesn't have auto focus (macro is impossible) and some camera settings we are used to are missing - such as the Scenes mode. Other than that, you can find Panorama and Multi-shot mode (BestPic is reserved for Sony Ericsson G900), flash settings with Forced On available, and several white balance presets.
The most important settings are available straight from the viewfinder, the additional settings menu gives access to options such as picture size, effects, storage location, and shutter sound (can be turned off).
We are quite pleased with the camera performance of the Sony Ericsson G700. Firing it up takes about 2 seconds, while the shot-to-shot time at high-quality is about another 2 seconds. That's with the auto preview option set to off - and of course you have to remember that the lack of auto focus speeds things a bit.
|"...The Sony Ericsson G700 is a nice try by Sony Ericsson to make a more affordable and more intuitive smartphone for users looking for a phone with good organizing capabilities. They don't build their marketing strategy on the smartphone capabilities, so they come as a nice bonus for users that can make the best of them..."|
Unfortunately the camera of our G700 prototype is not yet finished, but it seems promising to an extent. Cameras usually are the last things that get tuned properly before the release of the handset. This is the reason why we are only offering few camera samples - the following two are downsized to 1024 x 768 pixels. No other photo editing has been done on the samples.
And finally, here is a full resolution Sony Ericsson G700 camera sample for you to enjoy.
The G700 video recorder however is not upgraded and it still maxes out at 30 fps at QVGA resolution, which just passes acceptable by our standards.
Unfortunately the G700 prototype we had for previewing is capable of recording video at only 15 fps. That will change with the final product.
Here is the 15fps Sony Ericsson G700 sample camera video.
Thumbing around the Web
The G700 web browser performs fast and has enough configuration options to make mobile web browsing real fun. You can move the current page around by dragging it with your thumb but it's even faster with the D-pad. With the D-pad, the browser offers supreme speed when scrolling and panning. You can also use the fullscreen or tabbed browsing to make your life easier.
The Sony Ericsson G700 is a nice try by Sony Ericsson to make a more affordable and more intuitive smartphone for users looking for a phone with good organizing capabilities. They don't build their marketing strategy on the smartphone capabilities, so they come as a nice bonus for users that can make the best of them.
Besides, the Sony Ericsson G700 offers conservative looks, ease of use, easy to thumb interface and touch screen functionality all-in-one with a price tag of around EUR 250. If you are into auto focus camera and Wi-Fi, you might as well go for its bigger brother the Sony Ericsson G900 for about EUR 300.