I Shot the Sheriff
By Amos Yeo
In contrast with the very first Cyber-shot phone, the Sony Ericsson C902 is a prime example of how technology keeps on improving. Sleeker, lighter and with a souped up camera, let's see if this latest technological jump is worth every dollar.
Metal Gear Solid
We received the Luscious Red model of the C902 and while the metal silver stripes by the sides of the phone clashed with the color, we were very appreciative of the fact that it was slender. At 108 x 49 x 10.5mm and weighing 107 grams, you may even forget that the C902 was in your pocket.
Most of you would be wondering where the camera has been hidden. The engineers at Sony Ericsson have designed the C902 such that one has to hold the bottom of the phone and pull the top of the phone upwards to reveal the 5.0-megapixel camera. This unique design protects the lens and keeps the form factor of the C902 pleasingly compact.
Sony Ericsson has also spruced up the Cyber-shot range, with a few upgrades to the menu design. The most noticeable bit is the main menu, where instead of the traditional grid layout, you now have the option to choose a rotating or single icon view. The icons have also been updated to give them a glossy feel. In addition, the media center on the C902 has been updated to the PSP-like menu of previous Sony Ericsson phones. It is a nice touch on Sony Ericsson's part to make the phone's multimedia features more accessible.
Unfortunately, the C902's keypad felt stiff and unresponsive to the touch and made messaging a pain. We couldn't tell if a key was pressed sufficiently hard (or soft) enough for the phone to register it. The uneven, plastic-like keys also hampered the experience.
What would a Cyber-shot phone be without its camera? The C902 is equipped with a 5.0-megapixel camera and comes with a host of features such as face recognition, auto focus and image stabilization. Generally, the images are adequate. However with a shutter lag of about 2 seconds, we noticed a lack of detail in our photos and visible artifacts that softened detail, especially in text and sharp images.
The C902 adds a new twist to the Cyber-shot experience. In camera mode, blue icons on the sides of the screen light up, revealing touch sensitive buttons that allow you to quickly change settings. While this is a nice touch, one wonders if it would have been better to remove this feature completely to accommodate a larger screen instead.
There is also an accelerometer in the C902, which automatically changes the view to either landscape or portrait mode to suit the phone orientation. As a nice bonus, the Need for Speed game included on the C902 utilizes the accelerometer for steering purposes, leading to curious stares as we tilted our head to the left and right with every turn. The 160MB internal memory and an optional storage expansion for a M2 memory card ensure that there is enough space for your pictures and videos on the go.
We did notice a slight lag when using the proprietary operating system, possibly due to the revamped menus. This might prove to be a slight speed bump to all those consumers who demand efficiency. With moderate use of the phone, the battery on the C902 lasted 2 days.
The Final Word
So what's our verdict on the Sony Ericsson C902? We liked it. The reasons are simple: it comes in a nice package with a 5.0-megapixel camera, fitted neatly on a thin, light body while the icing on the cake would be its aesthetically pleasing menus. However, we felt a tad let down by a few things, like a less than responsive and stiff keypad and some slight lag in its OS. These minor annoyances kept us from fully embracing this phone. Nonetheless, if you can live with them, this Cyber-shot phone can be yours for S$788.