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Sony Ericsson K850i review

The 5MP camphone scrap has just reached critical mass with introduction of the K850i – can it rise above the throng and claim the title?

Sony Ericsson’s Cyber-shot phones know their photographic onions but have recently been surpassed in the megapixel stakes by the like of the Nokia N95 and Samsung G600. Well, Sony Ericsson is having none of that – it’s bitten back with its own 5MP camphone, the K850i.

The HSDPA-racing K850i has undergone a serious cosmetic and operational overhaul compared to previous Cyber-shooters. It’s a lot stouter than the K810i and the result is more solid torso with just a little extra layer of fat.

The new Xbox-stylee Luminous Green markings might also be tad funky for some but the radical keypad layout will cause more concern. Are the keys as cumbersome as they look?

Grand redesigns

Thankfully not – in fact, we’re pleased to report that the three new touch-sensitive soft keys are surprisingly highly responsive. A T650i square nub style keypad has been shipped in but, again, it’s sweet to thumb and incredibly lucid for speed texting.

The navigation pad is the most quirky design experimentation on show with a thin rail surrounding the 2 and 5 buttons. Your mindset will undoubtedly be geared towards a standard five-way joypad, so this formation, along with the touch keys, will cause initial hesitation. But persevere and it won’t be long before it all becomes second nature.

Standalone snapper

The K850i definitely has a stand-alone digital snapper sheen about it. The lens is shielded by tough plastic and when you power up the camera via the dedicated on-off button, the lens cover automatically flits open.

A very handy switch is also available to change between still photographic mode, video capture and viewing your snaps in the gallery – a common feature on digital cameras.

Like the W910i, this Cyber-shot is also fitted with accelerometer motion sensors so the screen automatically flips from portrait to landscape mode when you reposition the phone. Similarly, the new look Media menu that harvests your taggable photos, videos, music, podcasts and audio books under one convenient roof is also a fixture.

The only downside is that the lens attracts smears ands needs to be wiped clean before snapping.

Light the way

Apart from the obvious megapixel hike, the core K810i photographic features reappear – Xenon Flash, Best Pic technology, autofocus and macro mode for close-ups – with only the camera user-interface graphically tweaked.

Interestingly, the K850i is also the first Sony Ericsson phone to include ISO settings (100, 200, 400), so you can get professional and adapt the camera to varying lighting conditions. It works well with the 400 setting considerably boosting the brightness in gloomy indoor environments.

Video recording resolution has also been pepped to QVGA quality at 30 frames per second, easily surpassing the K810i’s feeble offering. While it doesn’t reach the Nokia N95’s VGA heights, it’s still an vast improvement despite suffering from the dreaded judder.

MicroSD machine

In yet another first, the K850i has also broken Sony’s ranks and now supports microSD cards along with its proprietary Memory Stick Micro format. Both are accommodated in one hotswappable slot and this is located on the bottom under a sizeable spring hinged gate that also houses the SIM card and battery.

We also can’t forget to mention that the K850i is rigged with all the mobile extras including built-in music player with Mega Bass boost, Stereo Bluetooth support, FM radio, full HTML web browser lover lickity-split HSDPA speeds and video calling.

So how does the K850i compare to our current fave the N95? If you want multimedia muscle, Nokia’s phone is the better choice. But the K850i is the superior snapper, with sharper detail and authentic colour depiction trumping the N95’S hyper-vivid colours. The camphone throne awaits.

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Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5

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