We were delighted with the Sony Ericsson K850 crystal clear display. It is a 262K-color TFT display with a QVGA resolution and has grown from 2" (in K810) to a 2.2" diagonal. In the world of numbers this is not a big deal, but it does matter in terms of display real estate. Furthermore, the display quality is tangibly improved in terms of both contrast and brightness. Dark colors are really dark. And that's verified: we compared it to the display of the same K810 we used in the previous review. Legibility in bright light conditions is another improvement, in comparison to the forerunner, going close to T650's level.
The keypad of the Sony Ericsson K850 offers square keys set sufficiently apart from each other, reminding of the keys of T650. This time they are made of rubber-like soft plastic and need more pressure when typing. You can hardly make any typos since the keys are wide apart. In our case, the keypad was evenly illuminated in blue as we were testing the Velvet Blue variety. With the added wave-like light effects it gains points on both usability and looks. Nicely, the D-pad is also illuminated in blue. The quality of the keyboard backlighting is just the same as in Sony Ericsson T650, again comparing with the handset we used in a recent review.
Sony Ericsson K850 is great at making and receiving calls. The loudspeaker is one of the loudest and crispest we've tested in a Sony Ericsson and you certainly wouldn't miss an incoming call even in noisy surroundings. It's excellent at bass and treble. This shouldn't surprise though, as the phone is media oriented too, featuring a Media Center with interface similar to Walkman 3.0.
The user interface in K850 is the well known Sony Ericsson standard non-smartphone one, yet livened up with some refreshments and applications. The most important ones are the Media Center and the Flash Lite theme support, as well as the stylish light effects for incoming calls and the video ringtone support. As most previous models, the Sony Ericsson K850 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 rivals, the Sony Ericsson handsets cannot work in Flight mode unless a SIM card is inserted.
|The most important ones are the Media Center and the Flash Lite theme support, as well as the stylish light effects for incoming calls and the video ringtone support.||
In active stand-by mode the screen displays information about the network signal, battery strength, current date and time, plus the next alarm due. Pressing the navigation pad in any of the four directions can start a user-programmed feature or application. The main menu itself is a 4 x 3 grid of animated icons. All sub-menus are in list view with tiny icons on the left side. Response is fast in every submenu and application.
Like Sony Ericsson T650, the K850 also supports Flash Lite themes, even some of the preinstalled themes are Flash-based. They change not only the color scheme and the wallpaper, but also the menu icons themselves. We tested K850 with the default theme from T650 and sadly found out that the home screen animations didn't affect the keypad lighting in any way. We came to miss the captivating lighting effects of the T650. It is possible however that the lack of this functionality is only due to our handset being a pre-release unit.
There is an Activity menu which has a dedicated shortcut key on the keypad. The Running Apps 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. A new feature allows minimizing the dialog window when you receive a file via Bluetooth and opening the window on demand through the Running Apps tab on the Activity menu. This is really convenient, as now you can explore the phone in the meanwhile, as opposed to other Sony Ericsson phones, where you have to wait until the transfer completes. Strangely, this is not the case if you're sending files from K850 to another Bluetooth device. The two available options are "cancel" and "back" and both result in interrupting the file transfer. The Activity menu also offers quick access to recent events, the web menu and the My Shortcuts menu which contains a list of favorite features and can be modified to the user liking. The TrackID service is present here too, and is found in the My Shortcuts menu, in addition to its original location in the radio options menu.