Sony Ericsson C902 in-depth review -

Look and feel

Its design is minimalist yet oozes class, and it feels great in the hand. The smooth back enhances its high-end status.

Features

The C902 has a hidden five-megapixel camera with an array of features including Face Recognition, BestPic and Photo fix. It also has TrackID, Google Maps and HSDPA date speeds.

Ease of use

The four-way navigation pad requires just the right amount of pressure from your thumb, and the keys are wide enough for easy location. The menu icons are clear, bright and easy to follow.

Performance

The camera is the most equipped of any Cyber-shot phone to date, though cynics may point to the lack of Xenon flash and optical zoom. With HSDPA speeds of up to 3.6Mbps, surfing the web and navigation via Google Maps is a rapid experience.

Battery life

A marathon battery life of 540 minutes' talktime and 400 hours' standby time is another string to the C902's bow.

 Sony Ericsson C902 Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:52:39 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

The five-megapixel camera is packed with an array of features, and the lens is expertly hidden behind the slider mechanism.

Cons:

The lack of Xenon flash, Wi-Fi and GPS may deter some.

Just as we got our hands on the Sony Ericsson C902, the manufacturer unveils the ground-breaking 8.1-megapixel C905. Determined not to let this cloud our judgement, Mobile Choice tackled Sony Ericsson's latest Cyber-shot handset with an open mind.

 

Sony Ericsson has been re-branding its phone range. The familiar Kseries range that for so long was associated with the manufacturer's Cyber-shot family now applies to its mid-tier range. Meanwhile, the Cyber-shot handsets all now belong to the Cseries. Confused? Don't worry. Just think C for Cyber-shot and you'll be OK.

 

Unveiled in February, it has taken its time, but the Sony Ericsson C902 is finally upon us; however, will a change in name signal a change in fortune?

Sony Ericsson C902 - Slim chassis

A five-megapixel Cyber-shot camera phone is nothing new from Sony Ericsson. We saw it successfully embedded in the K850i. However, while the K850i was boxy and bulbous, the C902 is both slim and sleek. The keys are also wide enough to allow easy access, with Sony Ericsson shying away from the smaller fiddly keys found on the K850i.

 

The keypad is plastic but unlike other plastic-coated shells, the device avoids feeling tacky. Once the C902 is active, the keypad gradually comes to life with each key illuminating - something akin to a dawning. The keypad is fairly busy, with six keys as well as a navigation pad and confirm button. Combined, they take up about half of the front fascia, with the remaining half filled with a two-inch screen, which positively sparkles when brought to life, due in part to the 240x320 pixel resolution.

 

There's no designated ‘back' button, which Sony Ericsson loyalists have become familiar with, yet the right-hand soft key dutifully plays this role. The navigation pad is neatly designed with a four-way square pad surrounding the confirm key. It feels good to the thumb with the right amount of pressure needed to give a directional push.

 

The back of the handset is so smooth, you'll forever be careful when placing it down in case of inadvertently scratching it. The sides of the phone are made up of three silver correlated lines.

What the more intuitive of you may notice about the back of the handset is that for a five-megapixel camera, there appears to be, erm, well no camera. That is until you hold the handset at each end and gently extend the phone to reveal a hidden lens.

Sony Ericsson C902 - Touch-screen icons

The camera load up time is quick, but it's not instantaneous, and the sliding mechanism is smooth and feels secure. Once the camera mode is utilised the whole handset springs to life, lighting up like a Christmas tree. Most strikingly are the eight icons that magically appear around the screen (four on the top, four on the bottom) in neon blue. Each icon represents a different feature, ranging from view mode, focus, self-timer and flash. However, the real Pièce de résistance is that each of these icons can be touched to ignite that feature.

 

There's a very slight haptic (vibrating) response when you press one of these buttons, but it's so slight that we didn't even notice it the first few times we used it. Thankfully the process works well, with each press responsive enough not to have you double tapping an icon for fear that you haven't pressed it correctly.

Sony Ericsson C902 - Camera features on a Cyber-shot

Being a Cyber-shot phone, the camera was always going to be the centrepiece of the C902. There's no Xenon flash, but Sony Ericsson has packed the handset with a whole host of features. Anything seen before in a Cyber-shot phone, you can bet your bottom dollar that it's here in the C902.

 

BestPic has always been one of Mobile Choice's favourite camera features, and it continues to impress. Switch it on via the settings menu and each time you shape up to take a shot, the C902 will quickly take nine shots in one rapid burst, before giving you the option of selecting the best one. It's great for shooting moving objects or sporting events for example.

Face Detection is another neat feature. Once again, switch it on via the settings menu and the C902 will cleverly pick up to three faces in any one shot. The results are that each face will be clearly in focus, providing better detail.

X-Pict Story is a fun feature that allows you to create a slideshow of your pics with the backing of various mood-orientated soundtracks, such as romantic, happy or sad, while Photo fix alters the lighting balance, brightness and contrast to give an even better-looking photograph. When using the C902's 2.5x digital zoom, we were a tad disappointed to find that the image appeared grainy as we zoomed in. However, we were relieved to find that when you take the photograph it actually appears fine. While the handset is no MOTO Z10, the VideoDJ feature gives you an editing suite that allows you to merge various videos, add soundtracks, and cut and trim.

The C902 is fitted with accelerometers that work automatically when viewing your media content. Simply turn the phone onto its side and the screen will transform into a landscape view. The transformation is seamless and is of a real benefit when viewing both your photos and web pages.

 

Geo-tagging is another welcome addition found in the C902. Using the on-board Google Maps, each time you take a photo, it is automatically tagged allowing you to trawl through your photos according to location. This is ideal if you're using your phone to capture some holiday snaps, although it's worth considering that data charges will probably occur depending on what tariff you are on, each time you use the application.

Sony Ericsson C902 - Google Maps

With no GPS built in, the C902's Google Maps uses the triangulation process to locate your position. Triangulation works by locating the three nearest cells to you and then working out your approximate position. This method claims to put you within 1,700 metres of your actual location, which while not as accurate as an actual GPS system is still pretty good. What's more we found that our position tended to be within two streets - easily close enough to regain our bearings.

 

In addition, if there is a name of a particular restaurant or bar that you are looking for, then simply type it in and Google Maps will bring up a list of local amenities that matches your keyword - the number of Burger Kings in close proximity to Soho is frankly a little disturbing. Alternatively, if you're open to suggestions, simply type in a generic term such as restaurant or bar, for a list of local options. It's a marvellous service; effectively giving you a personal guide inside your pocket, although scrolling around can take a couple of seconds for the map to reconfigure. What's more you're not just restricted to the UK, as Google Maps covers the rest of the world.

Sony Ericsson C902 - PC-like mouse pointer

Surfing the web is an equally joyous experience, due in part to the PC-like mouse pointer, first seen on the Sony Ericsson K660i. While its movement is not as smooth as you find on a PC, it still works well, particularly when gliding to hyperlinks or pictures. With up to 3.6Mbps HSDPA speeds, there's no real lag in moving between web pages, and downloads are equally quick.

 

Much has been made of Sony Ericsson's decision to keep its Cyber-shot and Walkman ranges as separate entities. Some can't understand why they don't merge the two creating one powerful music and camera phone. That said, Sony Ericsson trades well on both brands, and its handsets are well rounded. The excellent W890i boasts an impressive 3.2-megapixel camera, and equally, the C902's music player should not be sniffed at. Music is presented in various formats, including artists, albums, podcasts and songs.

 

The FM radio picked up all the stations we searched for, and the reception remained static free. However, we did have an issue with the headphone connector. While we applaud Sony Ericsson's decision to include a 3.5mm jack headset adaptor, we found that even the slightest nudge of the connector caused a disconnection of the headset. This may have been a specific issue with our handset, but it could still be cause for concern.

Sony Ericsson C902 - Verdict

It's impossible not to like the C902. Its design is minimalist yet slick, straightforward yet innovative and the camera is the most capable that we have encountered on any Cyber-shot to date. Features such as Google Maps and TrackID only add to the happy experience. Even the three games, FotoQuestFishing, Need for Speed ProStreet and DChoc Café Solitaire kept us entertained more than any mobile game really should.

 

If we're looking for criticisms, the lack of Wi-Fi may be frustrating, and we found that the designated camera button on the side of the handset is in too close proximity to the volume/zoom controls.

However, even that makes us feel like we're clutching at straws. To sum up, the biggest compliment we can pay the Sony Ericsson C902 is that we'd be happy to use this as our very own handset.