The object that would probably spring to mind when one hears the phrase “QWERTY” is the keyboard. Having formed the base configuration of computer keyboards everywhere, the universal layout can also be found on portable computing devices to facilitate shorter learning curve and fast, accurate text input. Replacing the outgoing P910 is the new P990i from Sony Ericsson and what's new about the latest model joining the hot selling smartphone series is the addition of a genuine QWERTY keypad.
Being part of the P-series, the P990i maintains the signature design of having a numerical keypad hinged over a touchscreen display, which also completely covers the new QWERTY keypad. The buttons on the keypad may be small but they are responsive and tactile, making input a real breeze. The sides of the phone host shortcut keys, as well as a scroll/selector (on the left side) for quick menu navigation. There is also a two-megapixel camera at the back of the P990i that's thankfully protected by a lens cover.
While the layout of the keypad is good, the same cannot be said about the P990i’s predictive text engine. Even though it intelligently lists out possible words that correspond to alphabet entry, it doesn't always let you continue with the word you want. For example, when the word “forge” is typed, pressing space would have the system automatically select the first word “forget” as suggested and completed by the P990i. Stylus input doesn't present such an issue but then again it's also more hassle compared to keypad entry because you'll need both hands.
Apart from the multitude of inputs, the P990i also prides itself by offering multiple connectivity options, giving busy executives a truly mobile smartphone to choose from. WAP/GPRS function can be easily configured through the Sony Ericsson website with mobile phone number and name of operator the two pieces of information required. Mobility also favors the P990i, as it packs onboard Wi-Fi and 3G for free and easy web surfing and mobile e-mail. The web browser in particular is effortless to use.
Besides the tons of connectivity, the P990i is also a topnotch device for office productivity, packing software the likes of Blackberry Connect 2.1, anti-virus application, games, as well as a 2.0-megapixel camera capable of producing good images with minimal noise. 30FPS video recording is supported as well. What really floats our boat is the pre-installed software that uses the onboard camera to scan business cards straight to the phone’s contact list. As expected of all these gadgetries, the P990i was disappointing in the battery life department, lasting just under two days despite having a rather hefty battery pack.
With its well constructed frame and much improved QWERTY thumb pad, host of connectivity options, loads of productivity applications, and a 2.0-megapixel camera, it's not difficult to understand why the nifty USD$830 P990i is such an attractive smartphone and why it remains as the smartphone to beat in our books.