Sony Ericsson T610 – Day One

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Date: Wednesday, August 20th, 2003, 01:36
Category: Mobile Phone

Sony Ericsson disappointed the heck out of me with the T68i. Now I’m giving them one more chance to make good. The phone? The T610.

Sony Ericsson disappointed the heck out of me with the T68i. Now I’m giving them one more chance to make good. The phone? The T610.
I went to a dealer and picked up my T610 today. I paid for it, did a dance with the SIM card, made sure it booted.
I gave my Nokia 3650 an iSync and swapped SIM cards again.
I don’t use Addressbook and iCal because they can’t understand Palm OS categories. No problem, I just use Entourage for everything. You may be someone who thinks using Entourage is a lot like having your fingernails removed with a pair of vice grips. Not true! It has actually been great, and is a much better PIM than Palm Desktop, which is my only alternative.
I dragged my favorite categories of address cards into a folder on the Desktop from Entourage, saved my Addresbook data from my last iSync Just In Case, and then deleted them all and dragged in a more current set of information from Entourage. So far so good. I reset .Mac with information from my Mac, hopefully promising that it was now all flushed out and replaced with 260 of my favorite people and places.
Charging the T610 was easy of course, as was pairing it with the Mac. No problem. Told it I what services I wanted to use with my desktop Mac and opened up iSync.
This part worked perfectly. Not a single hitch. There are a couple things I like about the Sony Ericsson phones and one of them is that I actually like that it changes the format of phone numbers to be one string of numbers without .’s or -‘s. Why? Because I store all numbers in international format, so +1202.555.1212 on my Mac gets sent to the phone via iSync as +12025551212. This may bother some people but let me tell you what the alternative is: pain and suffering.
On my Nokia 3650 it respects what I have in Addressbook and transfers numbers with the dots. So, it says +1202.555.1212, which looks nice and is certainly readable, but when I try to send an SMS or MMS to that number, it says that it’s invalid. The dots throw it off. I don’t know if this is a bug or a feature, but it certainly bothers me that a Series60 smart phone can’t figure out that this is a real phone number.
My phonebook restored, I went back into the office, after quickly pairing the T610 to a bluetooth headset.
When people say that this phone is hard to read in the sun, they’re not lying. I can’t read the display at all when I was outside on a bright Rhode Island afternoon. Good thing it supports voice commands, though who am I kidding; I don’t get out much during the day.
Wow these ringers are loud! They’re much louder than the 3650 – in my experience polyphonic ringers are always on the soft side. Not anymore. You can feel all 32 voices belting out that ring-tone with reckless abandon.
One of my main problems with the T68i is that it doesn’t hold a signal very well, nor does it sound particularly good. There are literally thousands of people that love to point this out at every opportunity. The RF stinks on the T68i and that was why I ditched it completely. The T610 isn’t bad, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the workhorse world phone, a Nokia 6310i. The T610 does work in the basement of my house, however, which is both a credit to the handset and the T-Mobile network on the east side of Providence.
I’d say the RF is average on the T610. Nothing great about it, but it doesn’t seem miserable yet. Time will tell, I guess.
Voice quality is pretty good. It isn’t as rich as I’d like, but tone is conveyed well and the mic is pretty good. Voice commands are very reliable, and over a Jabra headset I have a total success rate in switching profiles, calling people, and answering incoming calls via voice commands.
This handset feels really great in my hands. The weight is good, it feels quite sturdy, and I like the design. It has a very sharp display (indoors!) and the prepackaged themes for the handset look very sharp. The battery compartment is nice because the back of the phone neatly slides off, the battery isn’t part of the entire back assembly.
You can easily get the SIM card out and put it back in, too. That was one thing I thought was really weird about the T68i was how they did the SIM slot. It really annoyed me. (Though if you never change phones, I suppose that wouldn’t really bother you much.)
I setup my .Mac account in the phone, and while I have it set to check every 5 minutes for new mail, it doesn’t seem to be doing it. I can manually check though and it comes in just fine. I may have to discuss this with T-Mobile or SE to find out what I’m doing wrong.
The user interface is rather large. The simple screen of icons is lying, you can go vey deep in these screens if you want to. It isn’t always that intuitive either, to be honest. This may be a learning process that I have to go through. The menus aren’t fast, but they aren’t slow like the T68i, either. I cannot get 6 characters ahead of the T610 in an SMS message like the T68i. This is a very good thing, and the color and details in the themes don’t seem to impact it too much.
There are firmware updates for the T610 that improve menu performance, RF/reception, and some bugs. There have been several firmware revisions since this phone came out, so it’s worth considering buying your handset from someone that can also ship it with the latest firmware.
I bought my phone like most people do, in the store, and my T610 is running R1H. This will be remedied as soon as I find the time to ship it off to a service center.
If you want a good camera in a phone, the best photos are taken with a Nokia 3650 in my opinion. Those photos stink too, but they are larger photos with more detail, the T610’s camera is really ho-hum. A nice touch, however, is the small mirror piece you can attach to the back of the phone to aid in self portraits.
In my experience, camera phones are really only good for MMS anyway, and there is no United States inter-carrier MMS without going to a third party. If you have friends with handsets that can get an MMS message and they use your provider, it is really quite entertaining sending each other pictures all day. I’m a fan. The camera is quite adequate for MMS, caller ID pictures, and little else.
That seems like a lot of qualifiers. And it is. Early adoption means special hindrances, and it isn’t always just financial.
The display on my T610 on occasion seems to waver a bit, as if it’s shaking slightly. I don’t know if this is normal behavior or something worth replacing the phone over. I will have to do some research and see if other people have noticed this. Another weird thing, when I shake the phone gently in a circular motion, I hear a rattle. Not sure what it is, but I think its the piece around the lens on the phone moving around slightly.
If you don’t live in a market with really good GSM coverage from your carrier, I can’t say I would recommend it at all. There are better handhelds if you need reliability and you’re not living under a tower somewhere. AT&T Wireless and Cingular customers that do not need international roaming should consider the T616, which looks just like a T610, but provides GSM 850 at the expense of GSM 900. There is no question that GSM 850 in some areas will work better than GSM 1900 and the carriers have been converting their TDMA licenses over as quick as they can for GSM. Cingular in Boston is entirely GSM 850, in fact.
More updates as T610 ownership continues. If you have a T68i and have had problems with the sound and reception, I’m on the fence on recommending an upgrade. If you want a camera built in, and a phone the same size as a T68i (a hair shorter, in fact!) and a bright display full of 65,000 colors and don’t mind only get 2MB of storage, I’d inch you closer to the “buy” column.

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