The handset will be available in two colors - brown and black. The one we got to test was black. The front panel, a lot like its predecessor's, is made out of slightly brushed black metal. In the upper part you can see two silver dashes which are actually soft keys. The speaker grill is situated between them. A VGA camera for video calls is positioned in the right side of the grill. K790, which is the 3G-less version of the phone, won't have that camera, of course.
The impressive QVGA resolution TFT display is surrounded by a mirror frame. The display protecting glass also has a mirror-like effect applied to it so when the display is off, the whole area becomes a uniform reflecting surface. This really adds to the classy overall look of the phone but also adds for the catching of a whole lot of fingerprints. It's really frustrating in fact and you constantly have to clean it. The other parts of the phone don't have that problem.
Let me switch to the left side of the phone where you can see the Memory Stick Micro (M2) card slot. It has a protective rubber cap and allows for hot-swap functionality of the M2 card since it could be opened without turning the phone off or removing the battery. The M2 card that came with the phone was the first one we see since this type of memory cards is still very new and is not widely available on the market. It was announced in September 2005 by Sony as an alternative to its "big brothers" - the Memory Stick Pro and Duo. It is targeted at the mobile phones market for its small size -15 x 12.5 mm. An yet it is compatible with the Memory Stick Pro cards and it can be loaded into an adapter card and inserted into a Memory Stick Pro slot on a notebook computer or a PC card reader.
On the same left side of the handset there is a PLAY/STOP key for the music player. Pressing it turns on the music player which starts playing the last playlist used. The Music player starts in the background only scrolling the artist and song name in the upper part of the screen as seen in K750i and the W-series Sony Ericsson phones. Pressing the key again turns off the Music player.
On the right side of the phone there is a camera key which serves the double purpose of a camera shortcut key and a camera release key. The Infrared port is located below it. In the upper part of the same side of the phone we see the two volume control keys which are used for zooming in and out when using the phone's camera.
The top end of the phone accommodates only the ON/OFF button, which when pressed once in standby, brings up a shortcut menu for turning on the silent mode, locking the keypad, changing the current ringing profile, as well as, of course, shutting down the phone.
The bottom end accommodates the usual Fast port used for USB cable connection, battery recharging and for plugging in the stereo headset. In the left part you can see an interesting eyelet for fastening the neck strap.
Now flipping the phone over reveals an interesting sight - the back of the phone which is made out of matt black plastic, houses the camera lens protected by a slider cover. The awesome xenon flash we are so used to see in digital cameras is located on the left to the camera lens. In fact it's above the camera lens when you hold the phone horizontally, and it is meant to be used that way in camera mode. Sliding down the Cyber-shot branded slider automatically turns the camera application on and the handset turns into a fully-fledged digital camera. In case you started the camera application without sliding down the cover, a warning comes up to inform you of that fact. The self-portrait mirror is below the camera lens when holding the phone vertically.
The battery cover is located in the lower back part of the phone. The Li-Polymer battery itself has a capacity of 900 mAh and according to the manufacturer it should offer 350 hours of standby time and 2.5 hours of talk time in UMTS networks and 7.5 hours of talk time in GSM-only networks.
The battery cover opens fairly easy with a slide. The SIM card holder is under the battery itself and is the usual SIM holder used in most Sony Ericsson phones, meaning that the SIM card is easy to be put in, but hard to be taken out.
We are generally impressed by the quality of the materials used for the phone's body. It has a fairly solid construction and didn't give out any creaks throughout the testing period.
The menu navigation is performed through a central joystick - the same as in previous models of the product line, only now Sony Ericsson claim that this one is better protected from dust and should be problem-free.
On both sides of the joystick there are two soft keys and the traditional Sony Ericsson clear 'C' key and BACK key. There are two tiny shortcut keys on the left and right slotted between the regular keys - one is for the browser and the other one - for the Activity menu.
In the dark the whole keypad glows evenly in purple - this color is a rather unusual solution but a great one, we must add. The first word that came up to our mind when we saw the keypad backlighting was "really classy".
The first problem we encountered was that the "classy" keypad is really hard to get used to. The keys are made out of a rubber-like material and are generally easy to distinguish horizontally but not vertically. The keys around the joystick are pretty bad in that aspect too since you can hardly distinguish the separating lines between them without taking a look at them. All the keys are pretty small and are hard to use even by a female hand. Otherwise, the joystick has a very good response and is very precise. Generally speaking, the keypad ergonomics need improvements.
The phone feels nice to hold; it has a great balance and all in all, has a very nice design that appealed to us all. The slider cover on the back makes it tilt forward a bit when lying down on a table. That seemed strange in the beginning but in a few hours usage we began to even find it an attractive feature.