Sony Ericsson T303 will be available in two different color versions: Shimmering Silver and Shadow Black. Ours was the black variety. We were definitely pleased with its ergonomics, despite the extra compact dimensions. The controls and the alphanumeric keys are comfortable enough, while the unusually bare sides of the handset do add to its looks.
The Sony Ericsson T303 screen pays a dear price for the handset's compact size. It's a small 1.8" 65K-color TFT display of 128 x 160 pixels resolution. Above the display is the usual earpiece.
The control and navigation keypad below the display is quite comfortable. The large D-pad is neighbored by the two soft keys, the Call and End keys, and the "My shortcuts" and Clear keys. The D-pad itself is an amply sized square with silver trim. The loudspeaker grill is nestled underneath its confirmation center. The two soft keys also have the same silver finish. Tactility is excellent, save maybe for the flatbed My Shortcuts and Clear keys.
There is no thumb rest to facilitate sliding the phone up and down, but the slightly slanting surface under the D-pad works just as fine.
Speaking of sliding, let's look at the flatbed alphanumeric keypad. Keys are amply sized, considering the compact handset, and are well defined by thin rubber ridges. We were pleased with the keypad even if press feedback was a bit too soft for our taste. You won't have problems with accessing the keys on the first row either, an otherwise common flaw with sliders. The elevated chrome-highlighted lower rim of the keypad slightly impedes access to the bottom row of keys. On a different note, sliding is firm and smooth.
The left side of the T303 hosts only the Fast Port for connecting your headset, data cable or charger. Towards the top on this side is the lanyard eyelet.
Except for the tiny microphone pinhole at the bottom, the right and top side of the phone are pretty bare. The chrome lining of the sides contributes to the neat and attractive look of the device.
The centerpiece at the back is the Sony Ericsson logo. The rear side of T303 features a backwards bulge of surprisingly pleasant rubber finish to give the slider quite a good grip. The 1.3 megapixel camera lens is only exposed when the slider is open.
The rest of the rear is the matt plastic battery cover, which is easy to release by a gentle slide. The battery hidden underneath is a standard Sony Ericsson BST-38 Li-Po unit with a capacity of 930 mAh. It's quoted at up to 400 hours of standby time and up to 9 hours of talk time. Those are some serious numbers stated by the manufacturer but keeping in mind the small display and the fact that T303 is a GSM only phone, we may hope for 5-6 days of sparing usage.
The display is a 65K-color TFT unit, and it's the 128 x 160 pixel resolution that ruins the whole show. On-screen text looks a bit choppy and smudged. The other letdown is the small range of angles to allow adequate sunlight readability.
Despite those shortcomings, brightness is commendable and contrast is at the usual good level. The keypad backlighting of the T303 is solid blue and quite even.