Introduction

If you've taken a look at our previous cell phone reviews, you'll notice that I wrote a review very recently on the Sony Ericsson T300, the T68's little brother. Although I wanted to get a T68i for myself, the price was too high for me to spend on just a cell phone. I liked the T68i more, but I settled with the T300. If you read my review, you'll see that I enjoy the T300 very much, and I gave it a 9.5/10, a very high rating. But, I wanted to compare it to the T68i, so I requested one to review from Sony Ericsson. Luckily, they quickly sent one out to review.

So, what do I think of the Sony Ericsson T68i? You'll have to read on to find out.

Features

The T68i has an extensive list of features.

Network Features



Design

Probably the main difference between this phone and any other cell phone is the design of it. I've never seen a phone quite like this one. Let's take a detailed look in the design of the T68i cell phone.

There are two different colors for this phone, Artic Blue (tested), and Stellar Grey. They are both pictured below:

  

The Arctic Blue color is extremely nice, and features a nice light grey shade on most of the phone, but around the screen and the speaker, there is a shiny, light blue metal that makes the phone look awesome. This is the true showoff phone.

Unfortunately, like the T300, a lot of my friends don't like of the T68i. This is a personal opinion you'll need to make. I recommend visiting your local cell phone store and take a look at the phone in person before you buy it.

This phone is just 84 grams, and is 100x48x20mm in size, extremely small.

On the top left, there's a small button that goes up or down, and can be used to scroll through menus or websites, and to change the volume of a phone conversation or ring signal.

The right side of the phone features the infrared port, as well as the Bluetooth connector. You can use these features to connect your T68i to a computer or PDA to transfer files and use the internet on another platform using the cell phone modem. Most computers and PDA's don't have a Bluetooth or IR port, so you'll need to buy one if you want to use these features. A Bluetooth USB adapter can be found for $40 at your local CompUSA.

  

In my opinion, one of the coolest thing about this phone the joystick. It's a great way to navigate around the phone, and is awesome for playing games on the phone. The Sony Ericsson T300 also had a joystick, and I liked the T300's joystick much better then the T68's. It seems much more durable, but moves a lot easier. However, once again, a lot of my friends prefer the T68's joystick, so it's the individual opinion that really counts.

I loved the keys on this phone. In my opinion, they are perfect. Although they may be hard to press for people with very large hands, but for the average person, it's completely perfect. They have the perfect texture and hardness, and the Yes/No buttons look great. Whenever they are pressed, instead of turning the average yellow/green color, they turn blue, which looks…awesome.

The T68i has two LED lights on the top, which are useful. The left light is green, and the right one is red.

The T68i has a rubbery back to it, which makes it very comfortable to hold in a hand. Unfortunately, my test unit had a piece of paper taped to it with the phone number. Nevertheless, the phone is still comfortable to hold.

Overall, the T68 has a nice design that is very stylish and is great for showing off. No serious complaints here.

  

 

Interface

Since the T300 is the baby brother to the T68, it really has the same exact menu as the T68i, making me very familiar with the menu on the cell phone. The main screen looks exactly like the T300, which isn't a bad thing. You can choose your background picture, and in my case it's a picture of a beach. On the top center is the cell phone carrier name, in my case it's VStream. The bottom center has the time, and the bottom right and left have battery life and signal strength. So much for the main screen.



There's also a screensaver feature on the phone, but like the T300, it's completely pointless. It shows up for about 3 seconds after 25 seconds of idle time, and then there's a black and white clock screensaver which is not changeable to save battery life.



Menu

Phone Book

When the joystick key is pressed down, the main menu appears, which consists of nine icons that lead to sub-menus. The first icon is for the phone book. Here, you can find the call contacts, ways to add contacts, manage contacts, set personal pictures and rings for each contact, as well as set up "Voice Command." There's also some advanced options like "Copy from SIM," but I won't get into those.

The coolest thing about the phone book menu would have to be the personal rings and pictures section. Like a lot of phones, you can set it to use a certain ring/picture when a person in your address book calls. Since I also received the MCA-20 camera from Sony Ericsson, I could take a picture of someone in my address book, and set it so that whenever that person calls, his/her picture shows up. It's very cool and awesome for showing off.

Everything else in this section is fairly straightforward. I'll talk about "Voice Command" later.

Messages

Next up is the messages section. Here, you can find ways to contact people via SMS, MMS, E-mail, and chat. One nice thing about this phone is the fact that it supports MMS, which is a message you can send to another person that has graphics and color in it. Unfortunately, if you want to send it to someone, they need to have a phone that supports MMS. MMS is much like a SMS message, but with a little "spice."

SMS is fairly standard, and there's nothing too exciting there.

If you have an account for internet with your cell phone provider, you can send e-mail to people right from your cell phone, as well as check multiple mailboxes. I use this feature a lot to catch up on any e-mails I get when I am away from my computer. Unfortunately, you can't check multiple e-mail accounts at once. You'll need to switch to that account in a different menu.

I haven't tried doing the "Chat" feature, but what it is is a way to join more then one new-generation Sony Ericsson phones in a live chat, like Instant Messaging.

You can also set up your voicemail here, as well as call your voicemail.

Calls

Next up is "Calls." In this menu, you'll find the missed calls list, as well as the incoming/outgoing calls list. You can also set up call forwarding and call waiting, as well as call priority here. You can view call and data counters here too, as well as set-up your caller ID feature for the next call. Nothing too exciting here.

Ah yes, finally, the best section on any cell phone. There's quite a few options in the fun and games section of this phone. I'll go through each one, one by one:

Themes

You'll find here an easy way to change the overall look of your cell phone. Sony Ericsson includes five of them, which are the four seasons, as well as a Sony Ericsson style one. I use the seasons themes a lot because they make the phone look great.

My Pictures

Here, you can view any pictures you have on your phone, as well as any taken by the Communicam add-on camera. You can set any picture here as your background or screensaver, as well as send it to people via infrared, Bluetooth, MMS, or e-mail. You can also set a picture for a person in your contact list very quickly here. Sony Ericsson provided me with 13 included pictures of random things, but since it is a loaner phone, some may have been deleted in previous times. I know my T300 came with 40+ pictures included.

Draw Picture

Next up is the Draw Picture section. It's fairly self-explanatory. Sort of hard to do, and sort of pointless, but it's fun to have. You can send any drawing you make via infrared, Bluetooth, MMS, or e-mail.

My Sounds

Here, you can listen to any sound that's on your phone. It's hard to believe that the T68i doesn't have polyphonic ringtones, considering that the lower model, the T300 does. The ringtones that are included are very annoying. If you have some way to connect your phone to your PC (I'll get into how to do that later), I strongly recommend getting more ringtones.

Composer

Here, you can compose your own music to be used as a ringtone for your T68i. It's pretty cool, but I've never made anything that I would actually use.

Sound Recorder

The T68i, as well as the T300 features a sound recorder, which can also be used during calls to record them. It's great if you want to remember something but don't have any place to write it down, but don't plan on using it for actually recording stuff like meetings or concerts...

Games

Ah yes, the best part of any phone is games. However, I was disappointed at the games on the T68i. Although there are eight of them, I really only enjoy two. The games included are Arimona (Free Cell), Contrary, Erix, Four Piles, Naval Fleet (battleship), North Territory, Q, and Yukon Struggle.

I ended up mostly planning Erix and Naval Fleet and ignoring all the rest. Many of the games support a multiplayer more, in which you can play with other people that own a T68 via Bluetooth or infrared. Very cool!

Communicam

Sony Ericsson also sent me the Communicam optional camera attachment to review. Although I liked the idea of having a camera on a cell phone, but I wasn't too impressed with the MCA-20 camera attachment.

The camera is small and sleek, and looks awesome. However, "in action," the camera fails to impress. The quality on the phone's 256-color screen makes the images look horrible, no matter what the light is like. The picture is pretty much black when taken in low-light situations, and when in bright light, quality is still bad, and looks pixilated.

There are four different resolutions, 640x480, 320x240, 160x120, and 80x60. The camera only holds 14 images of the highest resolution, and 208 pictures at the lowest quality. After playing with the camera, I found that 320x240 was the best resolution. The images are stored on the camera memory, meaning that any picture taken is not stored on the phone, but on the camera. If you want to use any picture on the phone as a background or phonebook picture, you'll need to transfer it to the phone.

You can change the white balance and contrast on the camera settings, but I didn't find a noticeable difference in image quality.

The coolest feature of the CommuniCam is probably the fact that you can take a picture of a person, and set up the phone book so that whenever that person calls, their picture shows up. However, like what I said above, the quality is so bad on the phone because of the color screen, this feature is somewhat pointless because of the horrible quality.

Unfortunatly, Sony Ericsson could not send me a USB data cable to use to connect the phone to my computer and see what the images looked like on a good screen. But, I've seen other people's results when the camera is connected, and it looks decent for a camera that is designed for a cell phone.

Overall, I can't say I was impressed with the MCA-20 camera. Luckily, now the standard of cameras is MCA-25. I haven't had a chance to try that camera out, but hopefully it's better. This isn't to mention the fact that this camera is about $170, but can be found for around $100 on eBay.

Settings

Here, you will find various settings for your cell phone, including sounds and alerts, display, language, time/date, voice control, locks, profiles, handsfree, and master reset. I'll go through each one.

Sounds and Alerts

Here, you can change the ring signal, volume, vibration, alarms, message alert, minute minder, and key sounds. Fairly straightforward.

Profiles

Profiles are useful if you like to customize your phone a lot. If you use Windows XP or a graphical version of Linux, you should be fairly familiar with this. Basically, your profile contains all your configurations, like your background and ringtone. If you change to a different profile, everything is changed to that profile. You can change back and forth easily, making it great if you customize your phone a lot.

Display

Here, you can set up user greetings, backgrounds, screen savers, text size, light, contrast, and master reset. Everything is self-explanatory, so I won't go into them in detail.

Language

This phone supports US English, French, as well as Spanish. The text input can be done manually or with the T9 feature, which is very convenient. Basically, T9 is a dictionary on the phone that allows you to only have to press the key once when typing, even if the letter you need would normally have to be pressed three, or even four times. When you type, it automatically looks for words that would be possible with those key strokes.

Time and Date

Unfortunately, there is no satellite time/date on this phone, so you can enter it manually here. It does change time zones and daylight savings time automatically, however.

Voice Control

One thing I loved about this phone was Voice Control. No longer do you need to have hands to dial, and if you have a Bluetooth headset, it makes the phone truly handsfree. The feature worked perfectly. Once you have the phone all set up for voice control, it is extremely easy to use, and I had no problems with it.

Locks

Luckily, this phone has an automatic key lock, which locks the keys automatically after around 20 seconds, so buttons are not accidentally pressed. I strongly recommend activating this feature, for when I did not have it activated, I called many people in my address book my accident. You can also add SIM locks and phone locks here for security.

Handsfree

You can set up answering mode and hands free type here.

Master Reset

There are two options here. You can either just reset settings, or you can reset everything, which erases your contact, and anything downloaded or added to the phone.

WAP Services

Here, you can access the mobile internet, as long as you have it set up through your cell phone carrier. It usually costs extra a month, but in my opinion, it is worth it. Not only is it easy to use, but everything's in color, so it's so much cooler. You can check up on news, stocks, weather, movie times, everything! So convenient, and its very easy to use. You can also enter a URL manually here, as well as load up bookmarks saved.

Organizer

The organizer features quite a few sections, but they are all fairly self-explanatory, so I won't go into each in detail. Here is the entire list of stuff in this category:

Calendar
Notes
Alarms
Timer
Stopwatch
Calculator
Code Memo

Connect

This is the section where the Sony Ericsson T68i really shines. Not only does it offer Infrared, but it offers Bluetooth. In case you don't know what Bluetooth is, read on.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a technology that allows you to wirelessly connect something to another thing, usually with a distance of 10-50 meters. In the T68i's case, you can connect it to PDA's and Computers, letting you use the cell phone modem as a computer/PDA modem, as well as downloading new content to the phone and syncing Microsoft Outlook with the phone. Unfortunately, most computer's don't have Bluetooth when bought, and add-on cards are fairly expensive. A USB adapter costs around $50, which is a lot of money just to connect your cell phone to your PC.

Since I don't have Bluetooth on my computer, I was unable to test this feature. But, continue reading to learn about my experience with Sony Ericsson's HBH-30 headset.

Infrared

In case you don't have Bluetooth, and want a cheaper way to sync your cell phone to your computer/PDA, you can always go with IR. Almost every PDA has built in IR, and an USB IR adapter can cost as little as $15, so it isn't a big break on the bank. It offers the same features as Bluetooth, but the phone needs to be much closer to the receiver, appx. max 2-3 feet. It is also slower then Bluetooth, but it serves the same purpose.

Once again, I don't have Infrared on my computer, so I was unable to test this feature.

Also in the Connect section, you'll find the GSM Network setting, and Data communications settings.

My Shortcuts

If you don't like digging through menus on the phone to find what you want, the My Shortcuts menu is perfect for you. It lets you choose the shortcuts you want for things you use the most. Instead of having to dig through menus for it, you can just go to the My Shortcuts icon and select it in the list of shortcuts.

However, although it's a great idea, I never really used it.



Usability

Despite the fact that this phone has an internal antenna, the signal strength was always high in areas that T-Mobile covered. I compared the T68i with a Samsung Q105, also using T-Mobile to see the comparison of signal strengths. They were always equal, so you shouldn't have a problem with signal as long as you live in a area that has reception.

Audio quality was very good on this phone, but occasionally it was not loud enough, and was very annoying when in a high-noise environment, such as an airport. You can still hear the party, but it's somewhat difficult.

Battery life, like the T68, I got about 6 days of standby time, as well as 5 hours of talk time. Keep in mind that the standby time was done while playing games for about 10 minutes every day.



Pros:

Small
Light
Color Screen
Bluetooth
Battery Life
Joystick
Looks Sweet

Cons:

No Polyphonic Ringtones
Many Features Pointless (not really a con, but had to list it)
I only liked two games
Camera wasn't impressive

Conclusion:

There's no question about it; The T68i is an awesome phone.

There's no question about this either; this is the ultimate show-off phone. It has Bluetooth, which is just awesome, and it has a joystick, as well as a color screen! Plus, it's shaped awesome, that not only looks cool, but fits in your hand perfectly.

However, when shopping for a phone, you shouldn't always look at the price to see what is better. The T68i is more expensive then the T300, by a whopping $120 on www.sonyericsson.com. I can't see the real reason to spend that extra $120, unless you need features like Bluetooth. The T300 offers the same exact thing as the T68i, in a slightly larger package. Not only that, but it offers even more then the T68i, such as awesome polyphonic ringtones, something I look for in a cellular phone.

Unless you are a business professional, I can't see a big enough reason to shell out the extra $120 for the T68i in comparison to the T300. The T300 offers more features for less money. Plus, you can get a free Communicam camera with the T300 through T-Mobile.

Once again, the T68i is an awesome phone, and probably is one of the best phones I've ever used. Strangely enough however, I enjoyed using the T300 more. It may be bigger then the T68i, but the things on the T300 are cooler then the things on the T68i, such as games and ringtones, things that are important to me when looking for a cell phone.

SLRating: 8.5/10





     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  



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