Sony Ericsson P990 review: A coveted smartphone

GSMArena team, 04 August 2006.
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Highly awaited as it is, Sony Ericsson P990 is going to be the flagship of the Sony Ericsson product line. Equipped with every possible current connectivity features, an autofocus 2 megapixel camera, a second video calls camera, a conventional keypad and a QWERTY keyboard, Memory Stick slot, FM radio with RDS, the latest Symbian 9.1 OS, and last, but not least with a large 2.76" TFT touchscreen with a QVGA (240x320 pixels) resolution it surely made the news for many impatiently waiting fans when it finally hit the market. The handset has a lot to offer, our job is to see if it's got what it takes to become a bestseller among the sophisticated smartphones which are now offered on the mobile market.

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Sony Ericsson P990 official photos

Main advantages

  • Autofocus 2 megapixel camera with macro mode and LED flash
  • Memory stick Duo/PRO Duo memory card slot (hot-swap)
  • Walkman MP3 player and stereo FM radio with RDS
  • 3G support with video calls, GPRS and HSCSD
  • Wi-Fi 812.11b support
  • Touchpad TFT display with a QVGA (240x320 pixels) resolution
  • Stereo Bluetooth 2.0, Infrared port and USB 2.0 support
  • Conventional keypad on a removable flip along with a QWERTY keyboard
  • Internal 128MB flash memory and 64MB RAM
  • Symbian 9.1 OS with the UIQ 3.0 user interface

Main disadvantages

  • Incompatible with older Symbian UIQ applications
  • No EDGE support
  • Records video with a QVGA 320x240 pixels resolution
  • Display not very legible under direct sun light
  • User interface is not always user-friendly

Traditional competitors of the Sony Ericsson P-series smartphones are the Nokia Communicators such 9300 and 9500. Some Windows Mobile-based devices however such as the HTC TyTN (a.k.a. Qtek 9600) which has been previewed on GSMArena.com not while ago are also really strong contenders for the communicator class title. Windows mobile devices have begun to earn their own place in the hearts of the smartphone fans and in some cases they offer even better functionality over the similar Symbian-based devices. Lately the Nokia Symbian S60 smartphones are also becoming a strong competition - one of the rivals of the Sony Ericsson handset would most definitely be Nokia E70 which we reviewed not long ago and. It doesn't have a touchscreen, but it comes equipped with a great folding QWERTY keypad and on functional level and pure speed it comes to equal terms with P990.

As is the case right now, both the latest versions of the Symbian S60 UI and the Symbian UIQ 3.0 have a limited amount of third-party software available. That is of course expected to change in the course of this year, but nevertheless it is a fact that must be noted because it is one of the most crucial aspects when making a buying decision. And that may definitely tip the scales in favor of the Windows Mobile OS for PocketPC which traditionally has a wide fan base supplying it with tons of software - both free and paid.

We were very excited when we got the opportunity to make a review of the eagerly awaited Sony Ericsson smartphone P990. It turned out though that the test handset is obviously a rather early prototype since we experienced frequent crashes in various situations and applications. Nevertheless, we decided to go on with the review since we realized how interesting a material like that would be to the fans of the P-series smartphones all over the world. We would mention the bugs we encountered while using the phone but we have a good deal of confidence that these would be fixed in the final version.

Sony Ericsson P990
The version we tested

The retail package would most probably include a USB cable, a Desk Stand, a stereo headset, a spare stylus, a flip replacement cover, and a 64MB Memory Stick PRO Duo card. There is also going to be a special screwdriver which will be used for removing the flip. Of course, as with any other cellphone, the contents of the retail package remain strictly market and country dependant.

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Some of the P990 retail package contents

The desk stand that also comes with the retail package is rather convenient since it can be used to make video calls with the phone sitting on your desk. At the same time the desk stand is connected to the computer USB port and not only charges the battery but serves for synchronization purposes.

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P990 desk stand

Sony Ericsson would be offered in three market-orientated versions: the standard P990i for Europe, Middle East, the Americas, and Latin Asia which would be also available with a Russian numeric keypad; the P990a for North and Latin America and working in the GSM 850MHz band; the P990i Chinese for Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore; and finally, the P990c for China. The first two models would offer Latin characters handwriting recognition only, while the last two would have Chinese keypads and support for Chinese handwriting recognition.

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