Sony Ericsson P1 review: A smart sharp-shooter
The Sony Ericsson P1 has a nice 2.6" touchscreen 262K color TFT display with a QVGA resolution. It deals well under direct sunlight - we have seen worse performance by high-end mobiles by other manufacturers. It must be noted that, when it comes to performance under bright sunlight… Let's just say that in this respect Nokia have been doing some really great work lately - their displays are among the best ones we've seen - both on smartphones and feature phones.
The QWERTY keyboard user-friendliness is entirely another matter. Our team is usually fond of QWERTY keyboards - and that's not because we are tech geeks, or at least that is not the only reason. QWERTY keyboards are our favorites when typing emails, plain messages or just putting down notes. We've seen them come in different styles and flavors, but more than often we can get used to their peculiarities in no time and you could found us speeding down the texting highway. Well, the P1 is nowhere near that when it comes to user-friendliness and ergonomics. After a week of testing, we still couldn't come close to the typing speed of a regular multi-tap feature phone, let alone anywhere near the one of a real QWERTY keyboard.
Sorry to say that, but since we've never had the chance to review the Sony Ericsson M600 ourselves, this is the first time we encounter the half-QWERTY, half-TORTURE keyboard solution Sony Ericsson has to offer. After we had a taste of the great Nokia E61i QWERTY keyboard last week, we were more than disappointed at the Sony Ericsson one.
As anyone could expect, Sony Ericsson P1 offers nice signal reception strength and we found no problems during calls. The vibration is on a medium level - the same goes for the ringing volume. However, we are satisfied with how clear the sound is.
The beast within
The phone's interface is UIQ 3.0, which is a customizable stylus-based user interface for mobile phones that is based on the Symbian 9.1 OS. Besides regular clock, date, signal strength and battery meter, the standby mode offers the user a Today screen and a customizable shortcuts bar. The Today screen shows current Calendar events, message and email inbox, missed calls, general notes, etc.
By default the shortcuts bar allows access to the Calendar, the phonebook, the web browser, the message inbox and the main menu. The shortcut items can be selected with the stylus as well as with your finger since the graphic icons are large enough for the purpose. A new thing we have not seen in previous Sony Ericsson UIQ smartphones is the ability to expand the shortcuts bar by pressing the grey arrow over the shortcuts. Thus, you gain access to 10 more empty slots for shortcuts.
The Sony Ericsson P1 deals well with RAM management - a thing Sony Ericsson M600 is not always brilliant at. Almost at all times, there are at least 40-50 MB available to the user even after Transitions have been turned on. Although only a beta version, we certainly find the P1 user interface as fast at least as the competition's S60 user interface. No doubt Sony Ericsson have learned their lesson and have doubled the available on-board RAM as compared to P990 and W950.
|Sorry to say that, but since we've never had the chance to review the Sony Ericsson M600 ourselves, this is the first time we encounter the half-QWERTY, half-TORTURE keyboard solution Sony Ericsson has to offer.|
On the standby screen, there are two pop-up menus. The first one can be invoked by the More softkey and the second one can be opened by pressing with the stylus the triangle in the upper left corner. The first one offers the option to turn on a connectivity feature, change the volume, view the smartphone's status, and allows access to a call management option for filtering incoming calls. The latter one gives you access to the most important items or actions you may need or like to do - for example turn on connectivity options such as Bluetooth or Infrared, make a new call, add a new contact or put down some appointments and notes. Furthermore, it gives you access to the dual time zone clock and allows you to control the volume level for different events centrally. We are very pleased with this menu since it allows quick access to the most important functions of any smartphone.
A nice thing is that the smartphone has a dedicated Flight mode, which can be turned on seamlessly without even restarting the phone. Even if you have to turn it off for some reason, there is an option that the phone asks you whether you want to start it directly into Flight mode.
The main menu of the Sony Ericsson P1 allows you two different views such as icons grid or list view. The font throughout the user interface is customizable - there are three available levels.
The smartphone interface is customizable through various graphic themes - unfortunately, ours had only the default one preinstalled.
Your magic book
The Sony Ericsson P1 offers an extensive phonebook designed to suit everybody's needs. It can store unlimited amount of numbers. You can choose to filter your contacts by groups; by the location, they are saved at; or separate them into individual folders that later on you can use for calls management.
The details that you can save for a given contact are abundant and include several numbers and email addresses, job title, office and home postal addresses, voice commands for the individual phone numbers of the contact and finally you can associate a ringtone and a picture to the specific contact. There is a field to enter the contact's birthday and the entered date gets transferred to the Calendar. Much like the smartphones based on S60 user interface you can add your own custom fields here, too.