First look: Sony Ericsson P1i

Mobile Choice has just attended the launch of the Sony Ericsson P1i and managed to get our hands on this Symbian UIQ smartphone two weeks before it hits the UK high street. Sony Ericsson is pushing the P1i as a full on business and multimedia device and it's a mouthwatering prospect for Pseries fans.

As the successor to the P990i, Sony Ericsson has seemingly gutted the signature design that's followed the Pseries through the ages and taken its design cues from its more messaging-orientated M600i smartphone. This recognisable by the full-QWERTY keypad with dual letter keys and initially we found this format quite fiddly to use. We kept forgetting each key was dual laced but once we accepted its rocker-switch ways the inputting became easier and faster. The P1i also features a largish pen-driven touch-screen that offers handwriting recognition if you can't get to grips with the QWERTY keypad.

You will also be glad to hear that the P1i is about 25% smaller than the P990i. It's definitely sleeker and more phone orientated in design but still quite weighty at 124 grams. It's probably just a little to heavy to qualify as trouser pocket friendly but as we said earlier it's still a lot more streamlined than the brutish P990i. The Symbian UIQ OS plays out pretty much like previous efforts and the homescreen offers an expandable 'Today' summary of message inbox, email messages, missed calls and task. Five icons also sit at the bottom to access major features but this can be expanded to 15 icons that are customisable to suit your preferences.

Apart from the obvious camera boost from two to 3.2-megapixels, Sony Ericsson has implemented little tweaks to make your like easy. For example the processor now has four times more memory to handle multiple apps being open at once without any sign of delay. It definitely feels more efficient. Also introduced is a web browsing tab navigation system so you can have more than one web page on the go and flit between them. The P1i will also automatically find the best available connection when you fire up the web browsing starting with Wi-Fi, then 3G and lastly GPRS. RSS feeds are also easier to set up now, offering you the option to import them on RSS enabled websites when you surf the net.

From our first impressions of the P1i, we reckon Sony Ericsson has fashioned its best smartphone yet, building on the Pseries heritage but improving the design and usability factor. Look out for more in depth Mobile Choice review in the coming weeks.

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