Sony Ericsson has never failed to impress in the two fields that matter to consumers: audio playback quality and visually pleasing industrial design. In the new P1i, it seems everything is still business as usual from Sony Ericsson, but there's a slight twist though. You see, the P-series of old were mostly bulky business gadgets that sorely lacked a designer's touch, but not quite so for the P1i. First, you'll notice that the old QWERTY keyboard had been dumped in favor of the variant made famous by the M600i. Following that, you'll realize that the P1i is beautifully slim because it does not have a flip-out keyboard.
It may be a P-series model but the P1i is designed to capture the attention of both executives and lifestyle consumers the likes. A combination of brushed metal, sleek profile and better build quality means anyone the P1i is not just for workaholics anymore.
As a device that's powered by the latest Symbian 9.2 operating system with UIQ 3.1 interface, the P1i is right at home for document viewing/editing, email and mobile communication. Some of the applications it packs include QuickOffice, PDF+ and a business card scanner. Together with the onboard 3.2-megapixel camera, card scans required no additional editing, proving beyond a doubt the imaging quality of the camera. Close-up night portrait shots were not an issue either because the P1i comes with an onboard LED flash as standard. Overall quality was found to be a yard short of what the Nokia N95 can deliver, but as a business smartphone with a dash of style, the P1i is not to be snuffed at.
A point of contention for the P1i would be its QWERTY keypad. For some, the 20-key input tool makes for quick and precise spelling of words, but for others, the input system, though innovative, might prove to be more difficult than it looks.
A day or two of practice should help one settle in but if not, the P1i still has stylus input for writing messages and menu navigation. Basic one handed navigation can be done using a jog-dial located on the left of the QVGA display.
To quell consumer dissatisfaction for the lack of firmware upgrade for its P990i running on UIQ 3.0, the P1i’s UIQ 3.1 interface was developed to be speedier and more robust. From what we know, Sony Ericsson intends to commit to firmware development for the P1i, which should help to boost consumer confidence.
Though the focus of the P1i is a business centric one, we looked beyond its technical aspect and discovered that its audio quality was worth mentioning. After all, having a splendid display will not count for much if its audio quality does not match up to the reputation of the brand. Sadly, the P1i uses propriety headphones for music playback, but in spite of that, the audio was typical of Sony Ericsson handsets.
If wired earphones are too messy for you, an alternative would be to utilize its A2DP connectivity with a wireless Bluetooth stereo headset. Besides Bluetooth connectivity, the P1i sports Wi-Fi and 3G support, giving you options for wireless Internet. The phone can also function as a mass storage device, as it has 160MB of onboard memory and a Memory Stick Micro slot. For PC or laptop synchronization, a docking station is included.
The good? Well, there is the business card scanner that works seamlessly with its 3.2-megapixel camera, the performance, a gorgeous design with quality audio playback, and a great touch screen interface. If we had to name a weakness, it would be the learning curve for its 20-key QWERTY keypad. On an ending note, we would really like to see Sony Ericsson maintain its commitment to deliver updates for the P1i's UIQ 3.1 interface, as it would be disappointing to see a good product fail from a lack of software support again.