Sony Ericsson P990 review: A coveted smartphone

GSMArena team, 04 August 2006.
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UIQ interface inside out

The phone's interface is UIQ 3.0 which is a customizable pen-based user interface for media-rich mobile phones that is based on the Symbian OS 9.1 OS. The previous UIQ 2.0 and 2.1 versions supported flip-open mode only. UIQ 3.0 provides a user interface for flip-closed use as while still supporting flip-open input. The flip-open UI and the new flip-closed alternative are built on the same code base.

So the smartphone's interface essentially works in two modes - one when the flip closed and another one with the flip opened. The flip-closed mode actually gives you limited access to the device's functions. Not all menus are available and basically you are limited to using the handset as a general mobile phone only. With the flip-closed the touchcreen functionality of the display disappears. But opening the flip magically transforms it into full-function communication machine. This is the reason why all of our screenshots would picture the flip-opened mode. There are only few exceptions and they are used mainly to underline the difference between the two versions.

A nice thing is that the smartphone has a dedicated Flight mode which can be turned on seamlessly without even turning the phone off. 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. An added feature is that in Flight mode you can turn the Wi-Fi functionality on and make use of an airplane onboard hot-spot if there is one.

The standby screen of course has two views. In the flip-closed mode you can use the navigation D-pad in order to invoke user-preset shortcuts. Of course, the flip-opened mode is much more interesting. In this mode a shortcuts bar appears in the bottom of the screen. The items can be selected both with the stylus and your finger since the graphic icons are large enough. The shortcuts bar allows access to the events/shortcuts menu, the main menu, the phone application and the recent calls log.

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Flip-closed main screen flip-opened main screen Activity menu Shortcuts menu

An interesting addition to the standby screen in flip-opened mode is the menu we like to call the Start menu because it has a rather similar position as the START button on Windows. It gives you access to the most important items or actions you may need or like to do - like for example turn on connectivity options such as Bluetooth, Infrared, WLAN, or it allows you to make a new call, add a new contact or put down some appointments and notes. Further more 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 allows quick access to the most vital functions of a smartphone.

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The so-called Start menu with its options

When setting up a wallpaper in order to freshen up your main screen you have to bear in mind that there are two different wallpapers for the two interface modes. So you should pick up two different wallpapers to match the resolution of the screen according to the flip state. A nice thing though is that there are numerous wallpapers that come preinstalled with the phone which in fact have two versions - one for the flip-opened mode and one for the flip-closed mode. It's a very nice thing to see form Sony Ericsson. Not only the wallpapers are very nice, but what is more you can always be sure that you would have that wallpaper that caught your eye on both your display modes.

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Choosing a wallpaper for different states the two display modes

The main menu of the Sony Ericsson P990 again has dual view according to the flip mode you are working in. Further more, it allows you several different views such as icons grid with or without text as well as a list view.

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Main menu in flip-closed mode main menu in flip-opened mode: icons view and list view

The smartphone interface can be customized through various graphic themes. Several of them come preinstalled while many more should be available online once the phone becomes publicly available.

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Some of the preinstalled graphic themes

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