Review: Sony K800i/K790a (mobile phone)

My quick review of the Sony Ericsson K800i/K790a (europe/usa) Cybershot phone. This phone is a triband GSM, 3.2mp camera w/autofocus, mp3 player, M2 memory stick slot, and super pretty screen. Can it replace your digital camera for the more serious shots? Lets find out!


Intro/Background

Sony Ericsson is Sony’s mobile phone sub-company. In a way, this division seems to go against some of Sony’s other sub-companies ideals (drm crippling nature of the music side) by not restricting much on their phones and also by how you can do hardware mods and software mods to most models they release.

A good example was the SE K750i/W800i. These two phones were released with different target markets in mind, K version for the business type, W for the music type, w=walkman brand. However, they were physically identical and in turn cases could be swapped and firmware updated on the K series to be a W800i (i did both mods, did a hybrid casing mod and W800i firmware upgrade to my K750i and even did a custom keypad light mod.

The K750/W800 set the bar for quality digital cameras in a cellphone. They contained a very nice 2megapixel camera. The K800i/K790a are the next step for Sony’s camera phone line. The phone has a 3.2 mp camera with autofocus and optical zoom.

Specifications:
(from sony site)

(the only difference between the K800 and the K790 is the lower band, K790 is for the usa and K800 for asia/europe and is 3G enabled. K800i also has a camera on the front that lets the phone make video calls; i had a K800i, it worked fine for me since i’m in a bigger city that uses the higher bands more than the 900/850)

    Size

    * 105 x 47 x 22 mm
    * 4.1 x 1.8 x .9 inches

    Weight

    * 115 g
    * 4.1 oz

    Available colours Velvet Black
    Royal Silver (special edition)
    Screen

    * 262,144-colour TFT
    * 240×320 pixel

    Memory

    * Memory Stick Micro™ (M2™) support
    * Phone memory 64MB*

    *Actual free memory may vary due to phone pre-configuration
    Networks

    * GSM 900/850 (for usa, K790a)
    * GSM 1800
    * GSM 1900
    * UMTS (EDGE for K790a)

    Performance Talk time: Standby time:
    EDGE 7 hours 350 hours
    UMTS 2 hours 30 min 350 hours
    GSM 1800 7 hours 350 hours
    GSM 1900 7 hours 350 hours

Build

First thing you will notice when you take this phone out of the box is how high quality and well made it feels. It almost feels like rubber velvet in a way and the display is very crisp and big. Its not too big, just a bit bigger tthan the K750.

The camera cover looks pretty nice, however it does appear to be prone to scratches (glossy metal black) in the term of using. Buttons feel tactile, however they might be a bit small and close together for those w/bigger fingers.

One downfall with this phone and with sony is that it uses yet a different type of memory stick, M2. I have a ton of MS Duo’s for my sony camera and my psp so i had to purchase yet a different type. The phone does have 64mb of onphone memory (which is pretty decent, sure beats the usual 20mbs of most phones and even digital cameras) to get you buy until you can score a deal on a M2 card.

Phone calling/UI/Features

Again, this phone had no probs with these features. I prefer sony’s UI over most, its much more customizable (themes) and user friendly. Most of sony’s newer phones can multi-task (play mp3s, surf web, etc) and have a built in task manager.

It has the usual contact book w/multiple phone numbers (upto 5 numbers per contact), calender, notes and tasks. All which can be synced to your Outlook 2003. I like to sync via BT, so convienent. Bluetooth in this phone is excellent, however USB connections were very shoddy at times. At times, i could not cconnect via USB for weeks at a time, even after rebuilding my OS. perhaps something w/my motherboard/usbs?.

full suppport for java games and apps. all google apps will work (local, gmail)

There are a ton of buttons/hotkeys on the phone. At times the smaller ones can be hard to hit. But useful for the most part.

Phone reception was excellent in the Metro areas but non-existent in the rural areas, HOWEVER that was because i have a K800i not the USA variant K790a. I would not have had these reception probs if i had a K790a. So be warned if you see a cheap K800i, they are made for the European/Asian countries and networks. Again the USA runs on 850 band in the rural areas while the other parts of the world use the 900 band. So this area depends on which one you get and where you live.

You also get the usual email/messaging options: email client (pop3/imap), mms, sms, direct blogging to blogger.com account. I loved the blogger option, very nice to be able to snap a shot on the go and instantly get it up on your blog published. great for the blogger types out there.

Camera/Pictures

This is the area in which this phone excels. Its 3.2 mb images are very crisp and printable. Here is a link to a few examples.

Cookies at the state fair! hehe..
http://blogs.tech-recipes.com/seamonkey420/files/2006/12/dsc00155.JPG

The farm (panorama feature)
http://blogs.tech-recipes.com/seamonkey420/files/2006/12/dsc00056.JPG

My k800i peeping on a Pearl (closeup)
http://blogs.tech-recipes.com/seamonkey420/files/2006/12/dsc00256.JPG

IMO, a very decent camera that i was comfortable using while out and about.

Conclusion

So, does the K800/K790 camera deserve the Cybershot badge? I would say yes. The pictures taken with it are onpar with a digital camera equivalent. The autofocus is a nice feature and helps quite a bit at times, however like most camera phones, you still need to just be still when you take a pic in darker situations. The flash is pretty good at close ranges and is bright. you can scare people pretty easy with it.

Seamonkey says…. 8.5/10

reason? the X factor. K800i’s have been prone to the ever dreaded Sony Ericsson White Screen of death! Basically, you power off your phone and then turn it back on and get only a white screen and then have to send to sony or a shop to get fixed. The K800i’s (mine included, long story) had similar type prob, you would turn it off and upon power back on only get a blinking infrared light and nothing else. The prob was figured out and in turn most cases are fixable via using Wotanserver.com’s client and doing a DB2020 upgrade (its free, just need the credit to do it).

but when its working, a great phone! must have for those who like to converge their devices, a true camera phone thus far.

Tips/Side Notes

-if you debrand your phone, you will not have any restrictions on the type of mp3 you use for a ringer. carriers lock down this feature while sony’s firmware does not. you can do this via davinci or wotanserver or other server unlocking/firmware updating clients.

-use media player to sync your phone to your library. Then setup an active playlist w/a size limit to match your memory stick.. Start rating your music in media player to make a decent likable mix for your phone.

-use the photo blogger feature! its free and so convenient. Just visit blogger.com/mobile and use your claim code. You can then attach it or create a new blog with it and send directly to it from your phone.

-there is a builtin firmware update/checking utility that lets you see if there are any updates to your firmware w/o the need for a computer.

-this phone cal also be used for a laptop/pc modem if you have a full unlimited internet plan (and w/some carriers pay a fee) via bluetooth or usb. very convenient in that it lets you get rid of that edge/evdo card in your laptop.

 

About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
View more articles by Jimmy Selix

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • Anonymous

    My father using the same sony ericsson mobile K800i it is Nice mobile i am using the Mobile now it got it from my father it is an unlocked mobile.The style the camera pic clarity are all good in the mobile ..I used the site http://www.unlock-zone.com/sony-ericsson-k800i/rs5wp9/ for the unlocking code purchasing.