Sony Ericsson T650 review: T-Series refueled

GSMArena team, 18 July 2007.
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Usability checklist

The Sony Ericsson T650 provided us with a nice user-friendly experience. It handles nicely and the metallic finish is pleasant to touch. The handset fits perfectly in one's hand and we are pleased with the ergonomics of all the controls.

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Sony Ericsson T650 held in hand

Talking about usability, we must pay due attention to the display. It's been a while since we saw any improvements by Sony Ericsson in the display department. Nokia handsets have long been unrivaled when it comes to legibility under direct sunlight. Their patented hybrid electronic displays that consist of both light emissive and light reflective elements have been providing users with unsurpassed legibility under direct sunlight. Sony Ericsson have lagged behind in that respect and in fact they still do. The Sony Ericsson T650, however, offers the best display we've seen from Sony Ericsson so far. First off, it has a mineral glass cover to prevent scratches. Next, it offers improved usability under direct sunlight, and last but not least, it offers really attractive color effects. By color effects we mean that when looked from an angle, the T650 display changes colors in an instant. For example, the standard green color scheme of the user interface magically turns blue when you have a look from the right. The pictures below demonstrate the effect, or you can go back to the beginning of this review and take a look at the first pictures of the T650 taken from different angles.

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Sony Ericsson T650 display in the dark: different viewing angles

The keypad of the Sony Ericsson T650 offers tiny square keys set sufficiently apart from each other. They seem to remind us of the controversial round keys of the Sony Ericsson K810. Much like the Cyber shot K810, these keys in fact provide for great user friendliness and are likely to be appreciated by keen texters. Responsiveness and tactile feedback are great and you can hardly make any typos since they are spread wide apart. The keypad is illuminated in white and with the added wave-like light effects it gains points both on usability and looks. More on those light effects is to come later on in the review.

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Sony Ericsson T650 in the dark: focusing on the keyboard

So let's hit the streets

Sony Ericsson T650 is without a doubt good at making and receiving calls - we wouldn't expect any less than that. The loudspeaker is loud enough and you wouldn't miss an incoming call even in noisy surroundings. You can hear cracks when you play a track with more bass at the highest volume level.

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Calling our friend Dexter

Catchy user interface

The user interface in Sony Ericsson T650 is the standard non-smartphone Sony Ericsson user interface. Honestly, the user interface is becoming dismally familiar - almost 2 years now since they last upgraded it a bit. It offers great user-friendliness, but new mobiles equipped with it don't offer any new functionality over previous models. Some of the new Sony Ericsson mobiles to be launched this year will have user interface with enhanced multimedia capabilities. And of course the addition of Flash Lite themes support to most of the new Sony Ericsson handsets will certainly liven things up.

As most previous models, the Sony Ericsson T650 comes with a dedicated Flight mode. When turning on the phone, you may opt to start it directly into Flight mode. Unlike its Nokia S40 user interface rivals, the Sony Ericsson handsets cannot work in Flight mode unless a SIM card is inserted.

By color effects we mean that when looked from an angle, the T650 display changes colors in an instant. For example, the standard green color scheme of the user interface magically turns blue when you have a look from the right.

In active stand-by mode the screen displays information about the network signal, battery strength, current date and time, plus the next alarm that's due. Pressing the navigation pad in any of the four directions can start a user-programmed feature or application. The main menu itself is made of a matrix grid with 4 x 3 animated icons. All sub-menus are in list view with tiny icons on the left side. Response is fast in every submenu and application.

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Standby view • the main menu • a listed sub menu

Speaking about Flash Lite themes, it must be noted that the T650 not only comes with Flash Lite support, but additionally, some of the preinstalled themes are Flash-based. They change not only the color scheme and the wallpaper, but also the menu icons themselves. The home screen animations affect the keypad lighting in an intriguing way. When the animated flying boxes that come with the default theme hit the bottom of the screen, a light wave splatters across the keypad.

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Three of the preinstalled themes

Almost all of the preinstalled themes can change their color scheme according to a built-in time schedule. For example, the basic theme featured a green wallpaper and green main menu icons for most of the day (10:00 - 19:00 actually). For about an hour after that a grey color scheme takes over before it eventually dissolves to blue at about 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. on, the theme goes really dark blue and won't change before 07:00 when it starts gradually turning green going through several shades of blue. Overall, this is a nice effect, one that we'd like to see more often in Sony Ericsson handsets to come.

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Changing colors according to the time of day

As with all recent Sony Ericsson handsets, the Sony Ericsson T650 has an Activity menu which has a dedicated shortcut key on the keypad. The Now running tab of the menu offers multi-tasking - for example you can run two Java applications and listen to the radio or to the music player simultaneously. The Activity menu also offers quick access to new events, the web menu and the My Shortcuts menu, which contains a list of frequently used features and can be modified to the user preference.

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The four tabs of the Activity menu

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