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Review of GSM-handsets SonyEricsson K200/K220i

Sales package:

  • Handset
  • Charger
  • Battery
  • User Guide
  • Wired stereo-headset HP-62 (only for the K220i)

The entry-level segment of SonyEricsson generates good sales thanks to ODM-products, although the company does not strive for heavy advertising campaigns for such offerings or excessive demand for them. The reason is nothing new: these devices differ too much from those coming from the mid price-bracket, sport other capabilities onboard and do not ooze that familiar aura, which many have used to feel with the companys top solutions. The release of a duo - SonyEricsson K220/K220i that are set apart only with presence of radio module in the senior handset, is meant to freshen up the range. These devices shouldnt be considered as bestsellers or something like that nothing more than an adequate proposal without any trumps or cutting edge over other makers in the respective price bracket, thats the role they play.

Over at Sony Ericsson they compare these devices with such handsets as Sony Ericsson J220i and Sony Ericsson K310i. Both models take intermediate position between the J220i and the K310i.

In the sense of design the handsets are twin brothers, and as we dig deeper into the review, we will highlight only substantial differences, while all the rest of it goes for either of the handsets. Looking at the phones it is easy to recognize Sony Ericssons style, as both the front plate and the sides are finished in glossy plastic. At that, the front fascia features an inset made of transparent plastic, boosting overall impression. The design can be characterized as staid and not too flashy, which is good for budget offerings.

Sony Ericsson K200 comes in two colors: Metallic Black (black) and Light Champagne (gold).

Sony Ericsson K220i is also available in two color variations: Frost White (white) and Ocean Blue (dark blue).

The handset measures 1034616.7 mm at 82g. For modern handsets such dimensions are pretty much standard, youll face no issues with carrying the phone in the pocket of jeans, shirt or suit.

Unlike the senior models, these two handsets have no side-mounted controls; only the left spine is equipped with Infrared window, while on the lower end you will find Fast Port, and an eyelet for a carrying strap under the back cover. The rear houses lens of VGA-camera with quite mediocre quality which is typical for handsets in this price-bracket. There you will also find the socket of the main loudspeaker that plays back music on inbound call.

The handset sports display with a resolution of 128x128 pixels, 1.6-inch diagonal and ability to show up to 65 K colors (cSTN). For todays offerings such screen is everything but a wild dream, it is rather par for the course for low-end solution. The screen accommodates up to 5 text lines and 2 service lines. In the sun it does absolutely no good and you have to search for a good angle to pick out the image.

The keypad here is a cross between skinny buttons of older models (two soft-keys designed in such way here) and staggered keys coated in transparent plastic (the rest of the keypad), which adds some points to its overall ease-of-use. Ergonomics in these devices is pretty good, though the four-way navigation key is not particularly convenient to handle due to its tiny size. The keypad is evenly lit in bright blue; captions remain visible in various environments.

Should you put some strain into it and push the back cover, you may hear slight crackling noise but generally the cover exposes no gap. The device utilizes already familiar 900 mAh Li-Pol unit (BST-37) used in all previous handsets. As the manufacturer claims this capacity is enough for up to 300 hours of stand by and up to 8 hours of talk time. In the conditions of Moscow networks the handset lasted for about 4-5 days at 40-50 minutes of calls (in all) and about 10-15 message (sent). Pretty good result for the given price-bracket is achieved through the screen features and being a non-heavily-packed device. As for the senior model, 1.5-2 hours of radio cuts the battery life down to 3-2 days. It takes the device a bit more than 2 hours to charge from empty to full.

Menu

Menu layout is typical for recent Sony Ericsson-branded handsets, thus for the sake of convenience the main menu is displayed in the Nokia-esque horizontal style, when menu and its caption are shown on the display. At the same time you are free to swap to the traditional grid mode (3x3), which is is more comfortable, from my point of view. Menu here comes enabled with shortcut number navigation.

Your snaps and other multimedia content can be stored on 2 Mb of the phones memory. For want of MP3 support, one would hardly need more, though.

Phonebook. Each name can be assigned with up to 3 numbers; length of the Name field makes up 20 symbols. The phonebook in the K200/220i can store up to 300 names. In the general list you can search for contacts, although it is called up before the list appears, which can be uncomfortable and inadmissible sometimes. Thats pretty much about the phonebook in the K200/220i, if not taking speed dial into account.

Messages. The phone memory can keep up to 250 messages, when typing predicative text input T9 is available, EMS-standard is supported. Everything here is quite spartan; MMS support would barely get the target audience curios.

Call list. There is a merged call list with up to 20 numbers in it; each number has an icon indicating the call type.

Settings. Using this menu you can enable automatic key lock, change wallpapers, choose theme or ring tone. Pre-installed tunes are good enough and sound rather interesting. This menu item can be also used to turn on Infrared-port.

Camera. The device sports VGA-camera onboard with slide-show mode available. As you might have already guessed, camera offers you no cutting edge abilities, snaps quality is poor.

Extras. In this menu item you may find such functions as single alarm clock, calendar with month-view an ability to submit simple events with reminder, calculator, countdown timer and stopwatch.

The handset will keep you entertained with 3 games: Black Deal, Honey Cave 2, Quadra Pop.

The WAP-browser gives you access to Internet, though its capabilities are pretty prosy and will be unused by consumers (as one cant install custom apps here, Opera Mini, for example).

FM-radio (only in K220i). Even in such budget solutions RDS support in FM-radio is becoming a default feature, which is SonyEricssons trademark. But it is quite another matter that the target audience probably wont need such functionality, it is just a tiny extra thrown in for good measure. The radio is capable of working in background mode, in this case the information on chosen frequency is shown on the screen. You are at liberty to store up to 20 radio stations and search for them either in automatic or manual mode. Radio signal can be played through the loudspeaker, but whatever the case is, the headset must be plugged in.

Compared with the older models by the company, the radio module in the K220i can not indulge the user with anything out of this world - sensitivity is quite low, so that you will occasionally hear noises and distractions. I cant say that radio does not work at all - it works, but requires better reception conditions. In this respect the model looks like an alien in the line-up due to its ODM origin.

Impressions

The handset comes included with 32-chord polyphony; to our surprise call alert was rather loud, preinstalled tunes sounded penetrating. The device does not support any audio formats except I-Melody and midi, MP3 absence is a serious restriction which should be pondered. On the other hand, if you need a budget solution only for calls it wont be an obstacle to you.

The problem of choice between the K200 and K220i is very obscure. Do you need radio with middling headphones or will you be quite content with the phone only? It is up to you to decide, how adequate the difference in price is. In any case these are budget devices with very poor specifications. Going for these offerings would be justified for those who arent into handsets and tend to base on their emotions in the first place, when buying a phone. The two models are expected to be available for purchase in June at the prices of 70 and 95 USD respectively. Is that reasonable? From my point of view, not exactly, as we already have Nokia 2626 in the market for about 100 USD (by June the price will go down to 90-85 USD). This handset offers better functionality with the radio onboard. Samsungs line-up also proposes a handful of entry-level candy-bars armed with FM-radio in the same price-bracket. Thus we will draw a conclusion that purchase of either of these models is the result of an emotions-driven or random choice, nothing more than that.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Vera Paderina (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 29 March 2007

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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