A tech junkie is a person that has to have the latest and greatest things in the tech world, whether to have bragging rights or because you think it's just flat out cool. I fit this definition very nicely, whether it's hardware for my computer, audio/video equipment for my car…it doesn't matter, if it's technology, I want it.
Now let me introduce to you, the SonyEricsson T68m cell phone. The phone is quite small, weighing in at just 2.9 ounces and being 3.9x1.9x0.8 inches, yet it delivers quite a feature full package. So what kind of features are we talking about? Lets take a quick look at the list:
There's something very important that was left out from this list...a color display! That in my opinion is what makes this phone stand out so much, along with its great styling and numerous supported features. Before really getting into our review of the phone, let me just get a few pictures so you can take a look:
You probably don't know, but this review is SLCentral's first cell phone review. Before even thinking about reviewing cell phones for the site, I was very excited for the release of this phone as I thought it looked very good and would have a pretty decent price point ($199 with service contract). Even though I had good thoughts about this phone before getting it, I will be keeping this review as unbiased as possible to make sure you guys get the truth, so any bad points I have…well…I won't hesitate to state them.
Ok, enough of my little intro, here's what I think about the design of the T68. It kicks ass. Period. Before using this phone, my favorite style was the Nokia 8260. The way it looked was great, but I thought it was a LITTLE too small. So I ended up getting the Nokia 3360, a little bit too big now. The T68 fits my hand and my pocket perfect, and it's VERY light. As for the style, it's very similar to the Nokia's, one reason why I like it, but there are a couple things that I like better about it.
First of all, there are two available colors, lunar grey (what we are reviewing) and ziroccan gold. Here's a comparison shot of the two phones:
I haven't seen the ziroccan gold in person, but I really do like the color scheme on the lunar grey…it's the typical design that I favor (silver on grey). Aside from the color scheme there are a few notable things that assist on the good design. First of all the back off the phone has a rubbery texture to it, so it makes it very nice to grip…I really liked that. On the front there are two lights on top, green on the left and blue on the right. If you haven't seen already, there are places that will hook-up phones with all kinds of crazy blinking lights and what not…blue lights are the "in thing" right now, and I think it looks really great. The regular buttons light up orange, a nice contrast, and easily seen in the dark. The yes and no buttons are a chrome plastic, they actually look a bit out of place, but aren't too bad. I do think they feel a little flimsy though. Here's a close up on those:
Aside from the color display, the main thing that you will most likely notice is the joystick in-between the yes and not buttons. This is a new feature that I thought was very clever and works really well…especially when you want to play games or navigate through the menus on the phone. One thing to note though, is the joystick is pretty sensitive, and wouldn't hurt to be a little more "stiff". There have been plenty of times where I would be trying to push the joystick in, but instead it goes down or sideways. It took a little bit of getting used to, and it doesn't happen as much, but just something to keep in mind.
Other than that, on the top right side is the infrared port and on the top left is helpful sliding key. The sliding key just goes up and down and is used to increase/decrease volume while talking or to scroll up/down on pages, especially useful when using WAP services.
The interface is very intuitive and because of the joystick and it's very easy to navigate. I'll be going through a brief explanation of the main menu's and the various features within.
The picture above is a shot of the main screen. As you can see, I changed the background to my own picture (the SLCentral logo). Aside from that, you have all your standard things here. You also have the ability to have a screensaver which not only saves batter time, but it's a cool feature. You can make the screensaver whatever you want, but default is basically a big digital clock, you'll never need a watch again.
When you push down on the joystick you enter the main navigation menu with all of your settings:
I'll just be going through each icon from left to right. First up is the phone book.
In the phone book you can do all your normal phone book stuff, add contacts, edit contacts, etc. You also have a business card feature which you can send your information to another cell phone or a PDA. You can setup different groups and have different rings for each person or group. You can store 510 contacts on the phone, plus you should be able to hold 125 more contacts on your SIM card.
Next up is the messages menu. In here you can do SMS messaging (the next generation T68, T68i, has MMS), check your pop3 e-mail, and check voice mail.
Next is the calls menu. This is where you can check all your missed calls, all the calls you made, etc. It also have counters and timers so you can see how many minutes you've used the phone, how much data you've sent/received through WAP, how many SMS messages you've sent, etc.
Next is the fun & games menu. This is probably the coolest menu. You can set themes, add backgrounds, play games, make melodies (not polyphonic), and make/edit pictures. My phone came with 8 games, Erix and Naval Fleet (basically battleship) being favorite. The others are Arimona, Contrary, Four Piles, North Territory, Q, and Yukon Struggle. If you like snakes, there's a little cheat to get that on as well. When you start Erix and the title shows up on the screen, simply press 7,8,9 and snakes will come up.
Next on the menu is settings. Here you can do all your normal setting changes. Like the Nokia phones, the T68 has the profile settings which I really like. You can setup different profiles that do things like different sounds, and different phone settings. You can setup call forwarding, call blocking, various display settings (contrast, text size, user greeting, etc), time and date, language (French, English, and Spanish), and voice control. Voice control is really powerful on this phone, and there are many options that you can play around with. I had a little bit of trouble with accuracy in different environments, but with a little bit of work, I got it working nicely.
Next is WAP services, this is where you can browse the web. Graphics show up in color, that was pretty cool.
Next is the organizer. Here you have a calendar, voice memo's, alarms, timer, stopwatch, and a calculator. In the calendar, you can set reminders, tasks, view by day/week/month, and even send it out via Ir or Bluetooth. With SonyEricsson's software, you can even sync it with Outlook.
Next is the connect menu. These are all the settings for connecting to other devices.
The last icon is the my shortcuts menu. This is a pretty cool feature. If you have certain things that you constantly change in the menu, you can add it here and just get right to it.
I've read a couple reviews of this phone, and most mention that keys are too small. They are actually bigger than most phones that I've used, and I have had no problems. I do have pretty small hands though, so those with bigger hands, that's a word of caution for you.
In terms of audio quality, I've had excellent experiences on both my end and the person I speak to. I do wish that it could go a LITTLE bit louder, sometimes when I'm driving in my car with windows down I can barely hear. That's an extreme case, but with my roommates Motorola StarTac, I have no problems, even in that environment.
As for battery time, SonyEricsson states 13 hours of talk time and 12 days of standby. We got about 5-6 hours of talk time and 6 days of standby. I thought it would be A LOT worse, especially with the color display, but that's actually pretty good, and more than I would personally need. Since this phone is GSM and business travelers mostly would be interested in that since it is international, battery life is an important thing…The T68 does not lack there.
Pros & Cons
This is my favorite phone out on the market right now (that I've been able to play with). I love the style, I love the fact that it has a color display, and it has a ton of cool features. Bluetooth is definitely the next generation wireless connectivity technology, and it's supported in this phone. The price tag for the phone new is quite expensive, $600, but with a service plan, it should only be $199…Which isn't too bad for what you are getting. The joystick idea is a great one, and I hope to see it on more and more phones in the future. As mentioned before, the small keys may be an issue to those with bigger hands, but I really had no problems at all with it. As for the tech junkie stuff…well when my friends saw the phone, they all wanted it…enough said. If SonyEricsson can keep this innovation up, they are going to give all the other wireless companies a run for their money.