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Review of GSM-handset Sony Ericsson K320i
Sony Ericsson K320i is slightly refined modification of the K310i. The main differences of the 320i are new color schemes, Bluetooth module and support for Push Mail technology. Besides all that, the sales package includes Bluetooth-headset Sony Ericsson HBH-KV705.
The device comes in candy-bar form-factor. The design looks quite familiar, so it takes a glimpse to know we deal with a handset by Sony Ericsson. The K320i is available in three color solutions: Graphite-Gray, Light Brown and Misty Silver. Incidentally, the headset included in the package shares the color scheme with the phone, so that they perfectly match each other’s color.
Measuring 101x44x18 mm and weighting 82 g the device is not bulky at all and can be easily put into trousers or shirt pocket. The whole shell is made of quality matte plastic, smudge- and fingerprints-prone. It’s worth mentioning hat after the month of “ruthless” usage neither scratches nor abrasions have cropped up on the casing, which proves that the finishing is indeed durable. I almost forgot to say that interchangeable Style-up plates are available for the K320i, specifically the face and rear panels are detachable, while the chassis remains black whatever the custom cover’s color is. The build quality is fine, the only problem, brought about by these interchangeable panels, is that the phone slightly creaks when you take it in your hands.
On the left-hand side is the dedicated camera key, while the opposite spine houses shortcut to Activity Menu. It’s a shame that the manufacturer has not implemented a stand-alone volume control, as while talking it is not really handy to adjust volume bending joystick. But it should be noted that in Sony Ericsson W200 (music-ready version of the K310/320) the dedicated Activity Menu key has been replaced with volume rocker switch.
The top end plays host to an Infrared window and fiddly power on/off key next to it which is slightly deepened into the shell to prevent accidental hits. Here, on the top, sits the eyelet for a carrying strap, but to put a strap through you will have to remove the back cover first. At the bottom, as it has always been, is the interface slot, Fast Port.
The fascia houses a medium-sized UFB-display with a resolution of 128x160 pixels (23x34 mm), capable of up to 65 K colors. The picture on display is not particularly bright, the image is pretty grainy. Display does get washed out in the sun, but information remains legible. Generally speaking, for entry-level the K320i sports adequate display.
The keypad is made of plastic, the navigation block includes two functional keys, cancel and return buttons. Most of the section’s real estate is taken by the five-way joystick which is very responsive to all your interactions with it. The only complain would be that it is too much sunk into the casing, so handling it will take some skills.
The numeric keys are grouped in vertical rows close to each other. The buttons themselves are average size-wise, but are by no means awkward to manage; wrong presses are almost non-existent with it. The keypad is evenly lit in bright green in the way that you will have no problems with reading the captions
The phone’s back side is a host to the lens a VGA-camera which is deepened into the casing with no protective glass on it. Right next to it is the speaker for playing back ring tones.
The rear is in a fact a cover of the battery section, it sits in the slot pretty well, exposing no gap. Taking the cover off you will find a 750 mAh Li-Ion battery (BST-36). As the maker claims, the phone puts up 7 hours of talk time and up to 360 hours of operation standby mode. In conditions of Moscow networks the K320i lasted for 5 days at 15-20 minutes of calls a day and up to 20 minutes of other functions usage. With Bluetooth enabled, battery lifetime decreases to 3 days, which is also a good result after all. It takes the K320i about 1.5 hours to charge up from empty to full.
On opening the phone menu for the first time you will surely get a feeling that it builds on Sony Ericsson A100 platform. In fact everything is not like that at all, since the K320 (as well as the K310 and the W200) utilizes other hardware platform that is made be an A100-esque.
The main menu can be viewed only as a 3x3 grid, other kinds of layout are not available, and on top of that you can’t alter icons’ appearance (which is possible only with the W200). Sub-menus are shown as lists, at that some sections have these lists divided with horizontal separators. The menu can be browser with the help of shortcut number navigation. Moving the joystick, while at the standby screen, you access to user-defined functions. While navigating through the menu you will notice some slow-downs.
The handset is equipped with T9 text input system for Russian and English languages.
The K320i comes bundled with 15 Mb of memory, dynamically distributed among applications. When connecting the handset with PC, the device is identified as removable USB-drive, requiring no drivers. Used as a USB storage device the handset automatically turns off.
Phonebook. The K320i can store up to 1000 entries in its phonebook. Each contact may be bound up with a name, 5 different numbers (mobile, work, home, fax, other) but for each type you can submit only one number, so assigning two “mobile” phone numbers to one contact is impossible. In addition to the phone numbers you can also add an e-mail and URL, home and work address of the contact, birthday date and also additional information.
On the top of that you are free to set up a personal image or photo, ring tone and voice note (for voice dialing) separately for any of the 5 numbers.
Data on each is stored in horizontal tabs. The first one shows you the name and phone numbers, the second is dedicated to e-mail and web-pages, on the third tab you can set a picture or ring tone as well as create voice note, as for the forth, addresses can be found here, birthday and other information are shown on the fifth one.
You may quickly view the following data for the selected entry (pressing the joystick horizontally): three phone numbers (mobile, hone, work), all e-mail addresses and web-address. The general list may be sorted by First or Last name. As it always happens with Sony Ericsson’s handsets, accessing contacts stored on SIM card is a major bother, as they can be viewed only a separate list.
You are free to create users groups but they can be used only for sending messages to multiple recipients at once. Speed dial is available for up to 9 numbers.
Photo/picture assigned to a contact is displayed both on incoming and outgoing calls, but unfortunately it occupies about half of the screen’s real estate.
Messages. The device supports EMS-messages, the phone memory contains a set of pre-installed small pictures, tunes and animations. Bulk mailing sending as well as group mailing is available. While writing an SMS you may easily switch to MMS Editor. Such ability comes in handy when composing a massage you understand that SMS only won’t be enough. In the general list you can pick one of the view modes: only contact’s name/number, contact’s name/number and a snippet of the message, name/number and date, name/number and message size.
Unsophisticated MMS Editor is a cinch to use. Maximum size of one MMS makes up 300 Kb. A special menu item enables you to create voice message, which is in fact an MMS-message, but you are offered to record a voice message and send it right after.
You are at liberty to create SMS- and MMS-templates.
My friends. Under this title you can find Instant Messaging, a sort of mobile ICQ.
The mail client does send/receive job, supports all possible encodings, including Russian ones. As it has been already mentioned, Push Mail feature comes bundled with the K320i
Call lists. Within this item are lists of received, dialed and missed calls, each of them contains up to 10 entries. Apart from that, 30 entries long general list is also available. For each entry the contact’s name, type of number (mobile, work, home) are indicated, a small icon shows which list (received, dialed or missed) the call belongs to.
The alarm clock in Sony Ericsson K320i got a stand-alone menu item, the K320i has to offer only two alarm clocks: single and recurrent alarms, which can be set up to trigger off on certain weekdays.
Internet services. This item contains NetFront browser with whose help you may browse html-pages. Browser is easy and intuitive to use, the only gripe with it is the problem of rendering large pages. But after all, nothing prevents you from installing Opera Mini on the device.
Organizer. Month- and week-views are available with the K320i’s calendar, as well as daily setup of the calendar. For each event you may set date and time, duration, name and place, as well as assign reminder. You are free to transfer all events onto other devices in any possible way (using infrared, Bluetooth, MMS, Email, SMS).
Tasks. Here reminders can be created; one may be created in free form, while the other one is defined as a phone call. Reminders are automatically transferred to calendar.
Notes. This item is used to make standard text notes.
Synchronization. This item offers you to make use of remote synchronization.
File Manager. Dead-simple and intuitive File Manager, where files are sorted in folders by type, the ability to create sub-folders is also supported. Here you can also check out volume of free and used memory, as well as the volume of a specific folder and the number of files in it.
This item also includes stop-watch, calculator, timer and code memo.
Entertainment. PlayNow is the service letting you upload new content onto the phone.
Media Player. The K320i’s player is identical to that of the W200. It allows playing back mp3- and aac-tracks, as well as 3gp and mpeg4-coded video clips. You are free to make up your own playlists. Tracks may be played either randomly or sequentially, loop is also enabled on the phone. The run-of-the-mill equalizer presents you with 5 manageable bands with the ability of manual adjustment; the K320i comes pre-loaded with 4 presets. The player has got nothing against working in background mode.
While the player itself is quite good, but with the 15 Mb of onboard memory, it is practically of no real use.
Games. The item plays host to 4 Java-games (Deep Abyss, Erix, Minigolf, Treasure Towers) which are known practically to everyone who has had experience of handling previous Sony Ericsson’s models, but now they grown 3D. To install other Java-applications you may use WAP, PC or any other phone. Running Java-application can be minimized to get access to the phone menu.
Sound recorder. Record time is restricted only by the free memory volume. The sound recorder can work in stand by mode as well as record a phone talk.
This item also contains PC remote control function via Bluetooth. On top of that, here you can find PhotoDJ and MusicDJ, editors for photo and music respectively.
Photo album. This is a basic album with the ability to view photos as thumbnails (4 pictures per screen) and in full screen mode. Over and above you can switch into landscape mode and watch a slide-show.
Settings. Here all the phone settings are gathered. You are free to personalize each of the 7 profiles. Any tune can be assigned as a ring tone.
As for display settings, you can customize brightness, choose theme, wallpaper, and turn on screensaver and watch for stand by mode (big watch is shown on the display in stand by mode).
Settings for voice calls are also found in this section, along with phone status (just like in old Ericsson and Sony Ericsson models) where the information on current profile, free memory volume battery charge (%) is displayed.
Infrared may get enabled permanently or for 10 minutes.
Bluetooth 2.0 is built in. The following profiles are supported:
Camera. The bundled camera sports a resolution of 640x480, plus the ability to record small video clips (in 3gp at a resolution of up to 176x144 pixels). It is difficult to say anything special about the camera, so unsophisticated it is. Bluntly speaking, its only task is taking snaps for usage in the phonebook.
The reception quality is good enough; the K320i manages to stay connected to the network even in the places where many other phones lose the signal. The device boasts 40-chord polyphony, although the sound quality of the preinstalled tunes is not perfect, nothing hampers assigning your own MP3 track tune as a ring tone. In spite of the stand-alone speaker, the call alert is not sufficiently loud, in some situations, on noisy streets for example, you may end up missing the call. The silent alert is average strength-wise; putting the phone into a jacket’s pocket you might not feel the vibration.
The handsfree feature, materialized in the phone, works without any issue. You may turn it on/off with a single flick of the key.
The phone has turned to be rather interesting, being aimed for them mass market. Everyone will find in the K320i something he/she is looking for. The youth will appreciate interchangeable panels, MP3 support, ability to minimize Java applications and how easy-to-install new applications are, straight-forward SMS editor and, probably, other phone’s capabilities. Bluetooth 2.0, fully functional infrared port, built in Email-client with PushMail will surely appeal to adults. Of course, we shouldn’t forget about adequate battery life, which makes some difference for many.
Certainly, the K320i couldn’t be a flawless device – for instance its joystick is too placed to deep into the casing, thus affects overall ease of use. Absence of a dedicated volume control, small size of onboard memory, which can’t be expanded on top of all that – these are all the handset’s letdowns.
Listing the K320i’s rivals, we should mention Samsung X630 with its a-tad-worse functionality but more fetching design and pocketable dimensions.
The K320i has already arrived in the market at the price of 180-190 USD. As a bonus, the manufacturer offers free Bluetooth headset HBH-PV705 in the box with the phone, which, naturally, works in favor of the handset’s image.
Published 07 March 2007
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