Sony Ericsson K800 review: Digicam in disguise

GSMArena team, 26 June 2006.
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Sony Ericsson K800 is one of the handsets we were so anxious to test that we could hardly wait for the phone to be brought in the office. Its highly advertised Cyber-shot camera made us as restless as kids on Christmas morning. Once we got it and before we started working on this review we spent a good deal of time experimenting with the exciting 3.2 megapixel camera. Not that we haven't seen a better camera, no! The thing is that this good camera just happens to be a good mobile phone, too.

Sony Ericsson K800 Sony Ericsson K800 Sony Ericsson K800
Sony Ericsson K800 official photos

Key features:

  • A 3.2 megapixel Cyber-shot™ camera with autofocus
  • Xenon flash
  • Integrated image blogging support
  • Memory card slot with hot swap functionality
  • 3G support with video calls
  • Great MP3 player
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Infrared port
  • Bluetooth stereo support (A2DP)
  • Multi-tasking support

Main disadvantages:

  • A bit oversized
  • Somewhat uncomfortable keypad design
  • No EDGE or Wi-Fi support (K790 has EDGE, but no 3G)
  • Records video in ancient QCIF (176 x 144 pixels) resolution only
  • Memory Stick Micro™ (M2™) card type is still very new and unpopular

Sony Ericsson falls in the market niche of highly functional devices for which size is not that important. It's a camera phone and the devices we like to call camera phones are phones that boast a digital camera that's on par with the low-end digital cameras on the market. Speaking of camera phones, nowadays we see an increase in the maximum image resolution. We see implementation of new features which not long ago belonged to the world of the digital cameras only - such as specific scene modes, xenon flash, auto focus. Recently announced Nokia multimedia phones would even have optical zoom. The camera functionalities of the mobile phones are becoming increasingly important since the battle for the ultimate multimedia device continues - a device that can take great pictures, capture hi-res video, one that plays high-quality music, one that you can browse photos or play games on, one that helps you organize your daily schedule and browse the Internet, and in the same time functions equally well as a regular phone. Right about now buying a new mobile phone is always a bit of a trade-off on some of those things. There is no perfect phone.

In today's review we are going to take a look at a handset that makes a big stride in the quest for the ideal mobile multimedia device - a camera phone that still has its flaws, of course, but that shows us clearly the direction in which the industry is going to and thus turns into a symbolic device for us. Yes, we are talking about the Sony Ericson K800 Cyber-shot mobile phone. It has GPRS and UMTS support, memory card slot, great camera, a great MP3 player, stereo Bluetooth support, FM radio, integrated image blogging service and Google search and last but not least - a great 3.2 megapixel camera with an integrated real xenon flash.

The phone will be manufactured in two versions - one will be designated K800 and the other one - K790. The difference between the two is that the first one is produced with 3G UMTS support and a second VGA camera for video calls but no EDGE support, while K790 will have only EDGE support. The availability of the two models would be market-dependent, of course.

Before we start, though, I should warn you that the phone we tested was a beta version so there are some bugs we found and we are more than sure that they would be fixed in the final version. We won't mention those as we go along the review though, because the bugs are a pretty common thing in a pre-release version. As regards the retail package, the box should include a stereo headset, a USB cable and a 64MB Memory Stick Micro (M2) card along with a Memory Stick Duo Pro adapter but as we have always said - the contents of the retail package are market and country dependant.

All those numbers

The phone design follows the trend of all K-series phones of SE. It's really nice and it's only half a centimeter longer than the well-known K750, although at first sight it seems a lot bigger than K750. Otherwise the measures of both phones are pretty close to one another. K800 has dimensions of 105 x 47 x 22 mm and weighs 115 g. Just for comparison, the dimensions of K750 are 100 x 46 x 20.5 mm, while its weight is 99 g.

Sony Ericsson K800 Sony Ericsson K800 Sony Ericsson K800
K800 compared to K750

We got to admit that the phone's construction is pretty solid and the construction quality deserves a compliment. The weight on the other hand is perfectly balanced and doesn't feel much at all.

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