capsule review

Sony Ericsson Equinox Phone is Great for Calls, Not Much Else

At a Glance
  • Sony Ericsson Equinox

    PCWorld Rating

    The Sony Ericsson Equinox is a very middle-of-the-road phone with solid call capabilities and mediocre Web and camera capabilities.

The Sony Ericsson Equinox covers the basics well, including great call reception and a receptive number pad. That said, the Equinox (available for $50 with a two-year T-Mobile contract; price as of 11/10/09) doesn't handle music, the Web, or multimedia quite as well as other feature phones out there.

The flip phone is only 3.5 by 2 inches, and a half-inch thick when closed, which gives the phone a smooth, simple feel. The 2.2-inch screen is on the top shell, while the bottom shell has a concave touchpad, two context-sensitive tabs, the standard green Confirm and red Power/Cancel buttons, a camera tab, a backspace tab, and the keypad. The Equinox is light, about 3.5 ounces, and comes with a USB cord, a wall plug, headphones, and a decent-size, but manageable instruction booklet.

The Equinox's outer shell is particularly slick. Close the phone and a digital display gives the time, battery power, and range. Get a text or a phone call and the semi-translucent back will start to pulse, flashing the contact's name/number and playing your selected sound. It's a cute effect.

The Equinox keeps a clear, uncluttered screen. Pressing the touchpad will open up six self-explanatory menu options: Call History, People, Messaging, Media, Settings, and Organizer. Smartly compartmentalized, the Equinox menus are easy to navigate and manage.

Using the GSM/EDGE networks, the Equinox excels at making and receiving calls. The concave numbers respond well to even the lightest touch, and reception was solid. Unlike with other recent phones, dialing the numbers will automatically put you into phone mode.

The fancy shell and phone calling aside, the Sony Ericsson Equinox is a pretty mediocre phone when it comes to texting, photos, or anything multimedia-related.

Its texting, e-mailing, and Web browsing depend on the traditional "abc" multiple-button press system, which is to be expected. The problem is that the keys are not intuitive: The backspace button is a key labeled "C"; moving to and fro along the text requires entering multiple menus; and doing consecutive letters on one button--say, ab--is very difficult. Even numpad texting veterans will probably be frustrated by the setup. Text conversations are displayed in an instant-messenger-style interface, but that's an unwanted consolation prize next to easy texting. Web browsing is through the T-Mobile web2go browser, which offers only a kind of Internet lite because it can't handle more-complex Websites. Along with the rough key presses, the limited Internet options make Web browsing a chore.

The 3.2-megapixel camera is about average, as is the camcorder. There is a general dimness to the Equinox's pictures. Its other problem is that the Equinox doesn't have a particularly high mic, so the camcorder mode doesn't pick up on sounds as well as it should. Video can't be transferred onto the phone, but recorded movies can be transferred to computers, sent via e-mail or uploaded to YouTube.

The music capabilities are straightforward and average. No music software here: Use the included USB cord to plug the phone to your computer and drag and drop your tunes. Compatible with MP3 and AAC files, the music player has the traditional touchpad setup (rewind, play/pause, skip ahead) along with playlists, shuffle, and repeat options. It also holds audiobooks and podcasts. Music sounded weak belted out of the phone's external speaker and slightly better with the included headphones.

The Sony Ericsson Equinox is far from a bad phone, but the rough texting/e-mailing setup, mediocre camera, and average music capabilities pale compared with those of competing feature phones. The low price, however, helps mitigate the mistakes.

--Damon Brown

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Sony Ericsson Equinox is a very middle-of-the-road phone with solid call capabilities and mediocre Web and camera capabilities.

    Pros

    • Receptive numpad
    • Lightweight

    Cons

    • Poor user interface
    • Substandard Web browsing
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