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Sony Ericsson G702 (BeiBei) – take two, fail
Having run through the Paris, we couldn't just pass by another product of this breed that is set to land some time around the release date of the Paris and in truth is no different from the latter. Almost. Of course we are speaking of the BeiBei, also known as the Sony Ericsson G702. This is another phone (basically, a smartphone) heavy on web browsing functionality, as they call it, the Generation Web series. But honestly speaking, this line-up has come out flat-out clumsy, with all handsets assembled over there with some vague principles in mind. At first they gave us the Sony Ericsson K660i that targeted pretty much the same audience, then the Sony Ericsson G502 picked up this philosophy. Now come the G702/G902, topping out the range, so the role of the already-introduced “feature phones”, the G700 and G900, is not so clear-cut. In other words, they have rolled out such off-beat and niche-aimed solutions, that they can easily make you wonder what is going on over at Sony Ericsson. Even the G700/G900 seems like a better choice than the G702, although there are several differences which we are going to cover in this write-up.
Right off the bat, I’d like to clarify a couple of points regarding the G702 and Paris – both run UIQ 3.3, but our sample of the Paris employed the Generic firmware with no Opera 9.5 browser onboard and some other minor touches and facelifts. Then we got a couple of letters about that matter, updated its firmware and found out that all differences between the Paris and the G702 simply vanished. However, one of the current release’s drawbacks is that it’s quite unfinished as yet, so by August they will certainly tweak and tune it in some departments. But big changes are unlikely, so it’s already possible to take a good look at the phone and put it through its paces.
The G702's straightforward positioning targets it primarily at those who use the web browser pretty often, don’t mind having navigation features at their fingertips along with a touch-sensitive display, but wouldn’t want to shell out for useless extra smarts. By and large, it’s the same audience that might cast a glance or two at the Nokia 6210 Navigator as well, plus their price tags are identical. What you get for 300 Euro is pure navigation department, and Sony Ericsson throws in a touchscreen as a nice addition to the feature set. Whether we want it or not, we will have to put these two phones up against one another throughout the upcoming reviews. But for now let us give you a bit more insight into what we like and dislike about the G702.
The phone will come in two flavors, plus a bunch of other color swatches will be available for carrier-branded editions. The graphite-colored variant certainly has some visual appeal, plus its utilitarian merits are not thin on the ground – this flavor of the G702 is not a fingerprint-manget, and it looks good in the hand. Other than that, its size and feel are pretty much par for the course as far as candybar-styled phones go. The thing you will certainly stumble upon when browsing the images of the G702 is a tiny ledge on the right. Pulling it out reveals a broad and slim stylus, and obviously it looks cheap and in a way childish and lets the phone down big time. Imagine a man past his thirties with this plasticky stub in his hands – I hope you at least smiled at this thought. Sony Ericsson used to pay great attention to details, but these days they tend to overlook them very often.
The key feature of the phone is the navigation wheel, a replacement for the JogDial if you like it this way, that used to be of great help for blazing-fast menu navigation. But as far as our sample is considered, the wheel doesn’t work well, to put it mildly – misclicks happened one after another, and navigating to the item we needed was a real pain. This time we will assume that it’s due to the C702 still being a prototype and the wheel will go through some tweaking – we do hope, however, they things will change by the time it debuts.
As far as the platform is concerned, the G702 is no different from the Paris with 96 Mb of RAM, Opera 9.5, bundled GPS receiver and WayFinder for navigation software, plus Google Maps. Whereas the senior model offers touch-sensitive shortcuts, the G702 runs with good old mechanical keys (the dedicated Widgets button is here too).
It seems to be that over at Sony Ericsson they believe they can stand up to Nokia and without putting much thought into it they keep releasing direct rivals to the latter’s solutions. Let’s see how the Sony Ericsson G702 fares against the Nokia 6210 Navigator and what these two bring to the table.
I suppose it is easy to see the difference – the G702’s touch-sensitive display and WiFi connectivity. Going for the 6210 Navigator is a better sales package, slider-type design, more stable and speedier OS (I took them both for a test drive for a couple of days to make sure; although the G702’s touchscreen allows for faster navigation).
Neither phone holds the upper hand as far as camera goes – moreover, on a sunny day the G702 is likely to produce better snaps than the Nokia 6210 Navigator (its camera module is somewhat similar to the one built in the G700) Our friends at SE-NSE released a snap taken with the G702 – find it here.
In the review on the Nokia 6210, that is to come up tomorrow, you will find out that this phone is in fact targeted at a narrow audience that needs some navigation smarts under the hood of their phones, but there aren’t many people who think along these lines – those who actually realize what mobile navigation is all about have already snatched some more expensive solutions and feel happy about their choices. In fact, that’s the reason why Nokia’s first generation of navigators was a complete bust as far as sales go (specifically, the Nokia 6110 Navigator). However, while Nokia can take some losses on this front, a small, yet ambitious company like Sony Ericsson can’t afford wasting its resources in such a mindless manner, although it seems that’s exactly what they do. The amusing thing is that while trying to stand up to Nokia, the maker’s management copies not only successful solutions, but also those that aren’t going to generate sales for sure.
Since there is the Sony Ericsson G900 out there that comes with UIQ 3.0 (which should seem no different from the 3.3 release to the average user), a better camera (5 Mpix), slightly bigger casing and, more importantly, a comparable price tag (it will by the time the G702 arrives), we are not sure why they would need to bring a slew of similar phones to the market and put them up against one another without own product portfolio. Sometimes it’s better to put your ambitions aside and start working for real instead of replicating someone else’s handsets, hoping that they will do well in terms of sales. I’m sincerely disappointed, and it’s not the first time by the way, by the strategy Sony Ericsson is currently applying – it’s a dead-end for this particular maker, period. Very soon you will see some pictures and specs leak out, this time around new entry-level Cyber Short phones will take center stage, along with some plans for folder-type phones and a couple of fashion-conscious products. Once they’ve spread across the Web, we will give them a thorough review; thankfully, low-end Cyber Shot is something along the lines of the G702 –phones brought to life just for the sake of it. Seeing how active Nokia is, as far as its SuperNova range is concerned, Sony Ericsson’s reactions seem extraordinarily weak. And this is a pity – the company had and still has all what it takes.
Published 29 May 2008
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