Review: Sony Ericsson M600i

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The propaganda

The business phone market has recently become a hard fought battleground for mobile phone manufacturers and the M600i is currently competing with several strong contenders such as the BlackBerry Pearl, the Samsung i320 and the Nokia E61. It has the now ubiquitous push email solution as well as a scroll wheel navigator on the side – another lesson learnt from BlackBerry.

For a 3G candybar handset, it is remarkably skinny at 105 x 15 x 54 mm. It also has things like a media player, document and spreadsheet editors, and A2DP standard Bluetooth connectivity.

The good

Visually, the M600i does itself proud. The absence of any major navigation buttons or joystick on the front gives it a very pleasing minimalist style. It is also available in either black or white – both of which looks extremely smart. The new Symbian OS is similarly effective and I find it is a lot less cluttered than some Windows Mobile powered systems.

Surprisingly – for a Sony Ericsson anyway – the battery life is pretty strong. Having owned SE phones almost exclusively for the last five or six years, I’m used to some weak battery performance, but the M600i is good for around 5 hours of talk time or over 300 hours of stand-by time. Compared to other business phones out there, that is pretty decent and should realistically allow you to go for a couple of days with out desperately hunting down a phone charger.

The bad

There are few things missing from this phone. The most obvious is the lack of camera. More and more companies are beginning to frown on the sheer number of espionage-friendly camera-equipped handsets out there, but I still think that this must constitute a pretty small market sector. And even if you rarely use your phone camera, it’s always nice to have something as a backup. Further more, the higher end P990i has an incredibly neat business card scanner function that equips its camera and this would have been a worthwhile addition to the M600i’s feature set.

Wi-Fi is also absent. That’s not a huge shock in such a small handset but it would have been nice, especially if you’re wanting to indulge in some extensive mobile internet use without racking up a big 3G data fee.

Lastly, the M600i has lost the full QWERTY keyboard in favour of the unique two-way rocker keypad. This is definitely one of those love it or hate it features – I know people who do swear by it, but I struggled to get my head round it. I’m sure that with a bit more practise it could quickly become much easier to use, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better than having smaller individual keys. The lack of navigation buttons on the front makes one handed control of the menus a little tricky too.

Geek Sheet

Dimensions: 105 x 15 x 54 mm

Weight: 112 g

Screen: 262,144-colour TFT, 240×320 pixel

Input: QWERTY, Touch screen, Handwriting recognition

Symbian OS

Connectivity: 3G, GPRS, Bluetooth (A2DP), USB, Infrared

Memory: 60MB internal, Memory Stick Micro (M2) compatible

Opera 8

Overview

The M600i is a very slick business phone and it benefits greatly from keeping its bulk to a minimum. Although it occasionally feels a little too stripped down, it has a core set of good features that should let it compete admirably with its rivals. The price tag of between £250 and £300 is also about spot on too.

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