Review: SE P990i - A unique smartphone
Sony Ericsson was one of the first smartphone pioneers. Their first true smartphone P800 (we will not count Ericsson R380 which was not able to run 3rd
party applications) was a big success followed by P900 and later P910. Before Windows mobile devices emerged they had some sort of a cult status among power users.
New P990 which was released in August 2006 in Europe was one of the most anticipated mobile devices up to date. It was scheduled to come out at the end of 2005 but it was delayed many times. This device was made to satisfy techno geeks. It supports 3G networks, have 320x240 QVGA touchscreen, 2 Megapixel camera with autofocus, WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11b and runs on the UIQ 3 version of the Symbian OS. P9x0 fanatics have waited a long time for this baby to show up. Does it meet their expectations? Well let’s find out.
It measures 114 x 57 x 26 millimeters with flip and without it has thickness of 21 mm. It weights 155 g. It is powered by ARM9-based Philips Nexperia PNX4008 application processor in 90-nm CMOS technology, running at 208 MHz. It inherited more-less same looks like its predecessors P900 and P910. Only the first difference between P910 and P990 is that the latest one has QWERTY keyboard on its body instead of having it on a flip. The flip can be easily removed (like on the previous models).
Traditionally on the left side of the phone there is a jog dial, only in this case it has only 3 positions, scroll up, scroll down and press (instead of 5). Play button is next to it which obviously serves to play music and radio but you can customize it to use with other functions as well according to your needs, up to some level.
Also on that side there are back button and also lock/unlock button which is the smartest (and the simplest) way to lock/unlock keypad on the smartphones I’ve seen so far.
On the right side there is Memory Stick Pro Duo slot for Sony’s memory cards, internet and camera button.
On the back side of the phone you van find camera, loudspeakers and external antenna connector.
When you power on the phone you have the option to choose between normal operation mode, with GSM antenna and WIFI on and the airplane mode which switches the radios off. Wait a few moments and: - Voila, new Symbian 9.1 UIQ 3.0 version shows up. Immediately you notice the cosmetic and functional changes in UIQ 3.0 version.
The most functional change thanks to UIQ 3.0 is that now you can run the applications now in flip open or closed mode. Menu appearance is now animated with transitions effects which are cool but it slows down to some extent browsing through the menus.
It is much easier now to operate device with one hand then its predecessor. You can virtually do almost everything in flip closed mode and with one hand.
One of the first things you’ll notice on P990 is excellent and huge 2.67" TFT touchscreen with a QVGA (240x320 pixels). It supports 262K colors. When the flip is close the resolution changes to 240x256. In that case touchscreen function is turned off and you can navigate the device using buttons.
P990 can accommodate unlimited numbers of contact, and you can group them in different categories. You can enter for each contact several numbers and email addresses, job title, office and home postal addresses, voice commands, assign a ringtone, and so on…
The phone can do automatic call filtering so you can block or restrict access to unwanted callers. You can even send an SMS with predefined text to callers when you reject their call. Also when you reject call there is an option to automatically put the reminder in calendar to notify you about the call.
In Messages folder you can find all your SMS, MMS, e-mails and other message related stuff. It even supports the push mail via Blackberry connect software.
In terms of connectivity phone is equipped with Bluetooth, Infrared port, Modem, Synchronization PC, USB mass storage, USB support, WLAN.
Bluetooth supports stereo streaming profile A2DP where you can connect your P990 to a Bluetooth stereo handset to listen music.
This phone can be connected to Wi-Fi hotspots using WLAN 802.11b protocol. However if WLAN is used quite a lot it has a dramatic impact on battery life.
Phone comes with two cameras: one on the front is VGA camera for 3G and rear one is is 2 Megapixel camera with autofocus. Phone produces some decent photos thanks to one of the most advanced digital cameras on the market aimed for use in mobile phones. It can record video in 320x240 at 15fps which is not much impressive for today standards.
The output files are recorded in 3GPP or MPEG-4 format.
Phone can serve as an audio player. MP3, AAC+, MPEG-4 and Real Audio 9 and RealMedia formats are supported. Music player is the same one that comes with a Walkman branded devices. The audio subsystem combines a fully dedicated DSP (digital signal processor) with integrated digital-analog converters (DACs) and analog-digital converters (ADCs). The audio DSP can operate independently from the ARM CPU and can reference embedded RAM memories for full audio flexibility. For stereo sound, there are two integrated stereo DACs and one stereo ADC. There are also two PCM interfaces, carrying 8- or 16-kHz sample-rate voice channels
Also you can listen to a radio but it requires to plug in your headset (it serves as an antenna) and now it comes with RDS support which is a cool feature.
Being a business oriented device P990 has Quickoffice group which is an editor for Word (Quickword), Excel (Quicksheet), and PowerPoint (QuickPoint) documents. It also comes with support for PDF documents in form of PFF+ application.
Bussines oriented device doesn’t mean in this case that game
support is absent in this device. The 2D/3D graphics accelerator (PowerVR from
ARM and Imagination Technologies) complies with OpenGL ES 1.0 APIs. Running at
80 MHz, it delivers a performance of 150 Megapixels per second and 1.25 million
polygons per second. A demo game that comes preinstalled Vijay Singh Pro Golf
2005 is showing what the P990 is capable to do in 3D.
In our tests device managed to stay 2,5 days on single charge using about 30 min of talk, 30 min of SMS writing, 20 min of WLAN and taking few pictures with it. It could probably do more if we had more powerful battery than standard BST-33 which has only 950 mAh and that is an absolute minimum for such feature rich device. Voice quality is excellent; the speaker has enough power to clearly hear conversation even in the loudest environments. Also the external loudspeaker is capable of producing some convincing loud tones so you will be able to hear it in loud environment as well. The only drawback is the lack of bass frequencies in the loudspeaker. Vibration is on the average.
After new firmware R5A17 have been introduced there is an
option to switch the transitions off and it that case menu speed improves dramatically,
and the phone seems now faster then before. It scrolls much faster through
contacts, e-mails, SMS. Also, it seems
that the phone handles RAM better then before and that you can run several
applications at once. Some users reported that applications are using less
memory then they used to do before. Java applets are loading much faster now as
It looks that it took almost nine months for Sony Ericsson to produce good firmware for this phone and I think they have restored the faith in this specific device.
From this point of view we think that Sony Ericsson P990 is a capable smarthpone. It does brilliant job as phone and the other stuff like push e-mail and connectivity.
The range of functions on this phone is truly staggering, and in a form factor that is really capable. We would only like to see GPS sensor on board in future, maybe a camera with more megapixels and larger battery, and then this device would be the ultimate smartphone. The new firmware really fixed a lot of issues and now it looks for a new phone. It is good for a business people and it has Wi-Fi.
I guess it is almost time for a new P series from Sony Ericsson and there is some space for improvement. P990 is the most equipped model from Sony Ericsson to date and its Camera, or MP3 player are doing a great job. It is a good business phone with some glitches finally fixed.
|Available colours|| Premium Silver