capsule review

Sony Ericsson C905a Cell Phone (AT&T)

At a Glance
  • Sony Ericsson C905a

    PCWorld Rating

    Sony Ericsson's C905a is an average phone, but its camera impresses.

The Sony Ericsson C905a cell phone ($180 with a two-year contract from AT&T, as of 8/20/09) might be better described as a camera that happens to have a phone attached to it. As a phone, it will do the job; but its 8.1-megapixel camera with an LED flash rivals some point-and-shoot digital cameras.

This slider phone features a bright 2.4-inch screen, measures 4.1 by 1.9 by 0.7 inches, and weighs 4.8 ounces. As is the case with all vertical slider phones, you slide up the screen to expose a numeric keypad. I found the C905a easy to open and close with one hand; depending on where you place your thumb to slide it, however, you may end up with smudges all over the screen.

When you press the keys, they have a solid feel and a good amount of clickiness, and they each sport a raised bump, but since keys on each row run together without any dividers, determining where one key ends and another begins can be hard. Also, the top row of keys can be a little uncomfortable to press, since they are right up against the slide-up portion of the phone. Other buttons on the face, such as the call start/stop buttons, are small and might be tough to press if you have big fingers.

Build quality is good: The C905a feels solid in the hand, although I wonder how well the slider will hold up over constant use. Initially I found the battery cover difficult to remove; it didn't help much that the quick-start guide failed to mention anything about the battery compartment (call me crazy, but battery-installation instructions are exactly the sort of thing I'd expect in a quick-start guide).

The C905a's software is adequate, but after using a smartphone for the last several months, I can't help thinking that it feels antiquated by comparison--in navigation, and especially in aesthetics. The phone's various features are reasonably easy to locate in the menu system.

In my hands-on tests in the San Francisco Bay Area, I found the C905a‘s call quality just average. Voices weren't especially clear, but they had adequate volume.

The C905a's Entertainment app handles music and video playback as well as photo viewing, and it includes a handful of games. The interface is reminiscent of what you see on the PlayStation Portable or the PlayStation 3 game console, and it works about as I would have expected; if you've used an MP3 player, you probably already know how to use the C905a's media player. The player is easy to navigate, and it's the most attractive part of the phone's interface. It won't replace your existing MP3 player, however--the C905a lacks a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

The C905a's headlining feature is its camera--and it's the best cell phone camera I've ever used. Modeled after Sony's Cyber-shot stand-alone camera line, the camera here, with its 8.1-megapixel lens, rivals basic point-and-shoot cameras. Photos come out pretty sharp, though colors aren't quite as vivid as with a dedicated digital camera. The camera features a Xenon flash, which performs reasonably well indoors. It also offers a handful of advanced functions, such as red-eye correction, digital zoom, image stabilization, autofocus, and a macro mode. I was particularly impressed by the macro mode, which took crisp, sharp photos. To add to the camera-with-a-phone nature of the C905a, the handset has a dedicated shutter button, a photo-preview button, and a button to toggle between the still-photo and video modes, just like most point-and-shoot cameras.

If you're the type who takes a camera with you everywhere and you don't want to carry around too many devices, you may want to give the Sony Ericsson C905a a closer look. If you want a more advanced phone, however, consider the Nokia N97, a smartphone with a high-quality camera.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Sony Ericsson's C905a is an average phone, but its camera impresses.

    Pros

    • Excellent camera
    • Crisp, bright screen

    Cons

    • No standard headphone jack
    • Average call quality
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