Not too long ago, having a 3.2-megapixel camera on a mobile phone was considered a luxury. Now we have Sony Ericsson unveiling a 5.0-megapixel version with the K850i, the newest member of its Cybershot range. Retaining the familiar candy bar form factor, it is unusually thick but amazingly lightweight at 118 grams.
Releasing a new mobile often means additional features compared to its predecessor and it's the case for the K850i. This includes three touch sensitive navigation control keys located at the bottom of the screen. However, we soon found ourselves wishing for the normal tactile keypad after the touch keys failed to register our 'touch' for the umpteen time.
As with the previously launched T650i, the K850i sports the same tiny buttons that can induce discomfort with prolonged usage. We also found the keys too close for our liking. Getting a pouch is a good idea to protect the touchscreen area from fingerprints and other smudges. The four way navigation pad is also quite obtrusive as it hinders rapid movement between keys 2 and 5.
We soon found out what's new about the camera embedded in the Sony Ericsson K850i. The dedicated lens cover is gone and replaced by an automatic one. Consumers will also notice that there is now a mode switch giving a choice of video, photo or playback. The motivation for this is probably to bring their Cybershot mobile series closer to the digital cameras today. Sony Ericsson has also added dedicated camera buttons to the K850i which lights up in blue when in use.
Since the emphasis is on the 5.0-megapixel camera, we took quite a few shots with the K850i and compared it with its predecessor, the K800i. Our consensus: images taken using the Ericsson K850i seemed more natural looking while those on the K800i were more vibrant.
For distant objects, the higher resolution K850i was able to capture quite a bit of details. For a fairer comparison, we also tested out the 5.0-megapixel camera on Nokia's N95 and found out that likewise, the K850i produced natural images compared to the more color saturated ones on the N95. Video wise, the K850i was average. Although the microphone was able to capture your voice, surrounding sounds can be rather indistinct. More work is definitely needed here.
The K850i also has a BestPic mode, which has appeared before in some of the Cybershot series. Once activated, consumers are allowed to take a series of nine images at a time and select the best – perfect for moving objects.
The battery, flash memory and SIM card slots are all hidden under a sliding case that can be easily opened when required. Consumers can also choose to use a microSD card if they do not want to use an M2 card for extra storage.
The K850i comes with HSDPA connectivity and a powerful but user friendly browser. To appease the multimedia and entertainment crowd, the K850i supports Bluetooth A2DP. Like most Sony Ericsson mobiles that we have tested, the battery life is decent for normal use. We managed up to 4 days of calls, messaging and camera usage on a single charge.
The Sony Ericsson K850i is up for grabs at a price of S$828. It's not cheap, but considering that it has a 5.0-megapixel camera, a long battery life and other features, it is justifiable if you intend to use those features fully. After all, you'll need only one device with the K850i while essentially having the full features and power of both a mobile phone and a digital camera.