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Review GSM/UMTS-smartphone Sony Ericsson P990. Part III or UIQ 3.0 by the example of 990

Review Sony Ericsson P990. Part 1>>>

Review Sony Ericsson P990. Part 2>>>

Let's continue discussing UIQ 3.0 features, the built - in OS applications and some unique features of Sony Ericsson P990.

Alarms. The time function works in the same style as in previous models. Several alarms may be set on various time, and repetition on the certain days is established. You may choose different melodies of a signal. The radio may act as a tone as well but in this case it is necessary to use a headset as an aerial.

FM-radio works only when the headset is on (the headset is included in the standard kit). The radio is stereophonic. Its quality is comparable with Sony Ericsson K750/W800, there are no any special features. The user may save up to 20 stations in the phones memory and switch on the automatic tuning of available stations. The RDS option presents.

Flight Mode. The WiFis appearance in the device should have affected the phone operation in the flight mode. Logically all radio interfaces of the device should be disconnected in this mode because it's the radio part that creates noises for planes navigating equipment. In Sony Ericsson P990i Bluetooth was forbidden but WiFi stayed working in this mode. I don't understand this logic clearly, especially when it is emphasized in the official press release. There is someone's oversight here which will be corrected in future.

This may be explained by the fact that a lot of people use the smartphone as a data source without activating GSM/UMTS network. If the manufacturer created an opportunity how to switch the phone without a SIM-card there would no any questions but now Flight mode seems to be very illogical.

Connectivity. At the moment Sony Ericsson P990i has the maximum number of connectivity features of all UIQ devices. Following options are supported:

  • Connecting by cable. There is a Fast Port in the device which is similar to the companys last models. The RS232 connections emulation exists (it may be required for some specific tasks). Due to the interface change the USB 1.0 full support became possible (full-fledged speed of data transmission is 12 Mb/sec). Today it is not so much, but in comparison with the previous models it is a great progress. Copying of the information directly on a flash card is the most comfortable way of recording more than 512 Mb. On the other hand, time of copying is not so important when the smartphone is at dock - station (you may answer calls or work with applications at this moment). A usual cable of Sony Ericsson K750/W800 is more convenient than the dock station. It looks not so imposingly, but it is possible to answer calls holding the device at an ear.
  • IrDA. Full realization of data transmission with the help of IrDA to or from other devices. It can be used to make the smartphone to work as the GPRS-modem. Speeds of data transmission from 9.6 kbps up to 115.2 kbps are full supported. The following protocols are supported: IrOBEX 1.2, IRCOMM 1.0, IrTRANP 1.0.
  • Bluetooth. The protocol 1.2 is installed, but besides a standard set (File Transfer Protocol, Object Push, Headset, Handsfree, Dial Up) following profiles are supported: PC Sync over Serial Port (emulation of the low-speed interface for the data synchronization), A2DP (transfer of stereo sound to other devices, such as Bluetooth stereo headset), Service Discovery Profile (is responsible for services detection on other devices and definition of compatibility), Personal Network Area Profile (PAN; allows to create a network of several devices, each one using resources of the access point to one of the devices networks. You may use this when connecting to the network by WiFi, and other device is connected to the network by Bluetooth-connection). In total more than ten profiles are supported and there is no need to describe all of them. They follow from three basic profiles - Serial Port Profile, General Object Exchange Profile, and Generic Access Profile.
  • WiFi. The phone supports 802.11b (11 mbps) and connection to access points. This allows using hotspots. All built-in applications work with the WiFi connection (if they work with network). WiFi makes using mail and Internet very comfortable. Loading of large files goes without any problems (UMTS is not needed at all. The new standard is unnecessary when you have all opportunities of usual Internet with acceptable speed.). As it was already mentioned, the smartphone can be used for connection of other devices to the web (using WiFi channel, the device connects to 990 by cable, IrDA or Bluetooth). WiFi has not caused any censures, everything is comfortable. There is an opportunity to keep access settings for different networks.

The device allows working in VPN-networks, the appropriate client is preinstalled.

Connections manager. One of the features of UIQ 3.0 is that several connections with various network services can be started simultaneously on the device (for example, one connection for loading mail through the Internet account and another connection for sending or receiving MMS-messages). This option is called multi-homing. GSM data call (CSD), GSM High Speed data call (HSCSD), Packet data (GPRS), Bluetooth or WLAN (feature P990) can act as a transport for connections.

For each connection you may get such information as time, amount of data received or transferred, current connection status and amount of applications that use the connection from the menu (a line with an arrow in the status bar). It is also possible to switch the connection on/off using the same menu.

It is impossible to overstress the importance of using several applications with one connection. It creates the real multitask environment in which you may look through streaming video, check mail and send messages simultaneously. But you should understand that the channels width and throughput starts being the limiting factor. If someone tries to use different applications at the same time, overloading the channel, this may results in disability or very slow device operating. Most certainly there are different priorities for applications in the system but we did not succeed to understand them.

Office applications. Office applications are contained in a separate section. There are four of them by default (besides an organizer which is a standard application). In this section you will find notes, which can be text (typing in any convenient way, txt format support) or handwritten (Scribble).

The second application is called PDF +. As you can guess, it is used for viewing files in PDF format. Viewing is possible both in landscape and in vertical modes. The application became available for various versions of OS, including platform 60, some years ago. The Company Nokia has chosen this application as preinstalled for a number of its devices (only trial version). The full-function application is included in the standard delivery kit of Sony Ericsson P990i. PDF + operates quickly, copes well both with files in English and with documents submitted in different encodings (though speaking about pdf the word "encoding" sounds rather silly). Stand-alone application PDF + costs about 25 dollars.

QuickOffice is another application by the third company which was chosen by UIQ as a standard for the third version and is included in the standard delivery kit (the version for previous UIQ versions, platform 60, is available and costs about 50 dollars). The application represents the editor which is able to open and edit MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint files. Nowadays it is the best program of such kind, what is proved by the UIQ and Nokias choice for its smartphone (while only trial-versions in the latter case, but with Sony Ericsson P990i appearance they will become full-fledged).

We will not describe the QuickOffice in detail. We will only note that it is necessary to remember the limitation of any compact devices resources. Complex variants of formatting used in PC, are often not kept in files edited in smartphones (it is not a problem of only QuickOffice, but also of all devices on Windows Mobile).

Tasks. Writing tasks, priority setting, time limits are available. In general everything is standard; there are no any specific features.

Some other functions, players, themes, web-browser

Calculator is usual and predictable, without any tricks, but it differs from the standard for UIQ 3.0.

Voice - Dictaphone which allows making voice notes (only in a stand by mode). It is possible to choose a format of saved records. The interface is convenient and pleasant.

Graphics viewer - Small pictures are displayed in the application; there is a transition to fast viewing of a picture on the full screen. There are no any visible changes except of a new button of sending MMS-message with a picture preview.

Image editor - The simple editor, allowing making base operations with images.

MusicDJ - standard application by Sony Ericsson has reached smartphones. It allows mixing several sound tracks.

Converter - Allows transforming various measure units.

Stop watch - is present intermediate results gauging and list maintenance are present.

Countdown - time is set in hours and minutes and the phone rings in a specified time.

Multimedia player - the device supports Real Audio Video, MPEG4, 3GP formats. Audio formats such as AAC, mp3, AMR, RMF, DLS, Real Audio, G-MIDI level 1 with 40 polyphonic tones MIDI, WAV (up to 16 KHz sample-rate), XMF are remarkable. Playlists creation and work in a background mode are supported.

Themes are one of the central parts of new UIQ, they visually change not only windows appearance and colors, but separate menus and icons as well that allows to build essentially other kinds of the interface. With the help of themes you may adjust not only appearance, but sounds when pressing the screen, various events and so forth. Here you may see the interface in three different themes.

As a standard web-browser it is used Opera version 8. It is the best browser for such devices, there is no alternative. It works both in landscape and vertical modes of the screen, supports cookies, scale pages according to the screen size. It is not desirable to describe briefly all browsers features, we shall devote a separate article to it.

Programs, limits, other features

The UIQ 3.0 feature which was expected by many people is an opportunity of programs working in a landscape-mode. Only Opera 8.0 and cameras interface has this opportunity of all preinstalled applications. Creation of such programs will not be a problem for third developers in future.

Having told about programs by third developers, it is necessary to note they practically do not exist (during the review composing). The early announcement of the device (5 months before the release and in reality 6-7 months before) means that the manufacturer wants to urge on development of such applications and expend maximum efforts for this. There is no compatibility with with previous programs versions developed for UIQ 2, because the new safety concept is applied in UIQ 3.0. Programs for UIQ 2.1 must be recompiled with partial change of a code. It results in spending much more time by developers. We observed the similar situation with 800 when the most part of applications appeared only in one year after the beginning of the smartphone sales. I think this case will be approximately the same. The most serious disadvantage of such situation is not the absence of office applications (the standard set is quite sufficient) but the lack of games (though games developers try to present them as soon as possible for all devices). Lack of games at the first stage will result in their increased cost for 990 (developers expectation is simple - the device is expensive and less-common, games are also rare, so it is possible to pay more for the game).

Digital Right management (DRM) - The full support of DRM is built-in in UIQ 3.0. It means that the loaded videos, pictures and melodies with the established rights cannot be transferred to other devices. Having played with test music files with marked rights, I can confirm that the DRM system for UIQ 3.0 works well.

Pleasant news is that there are no any restrictions on SIS/JAR file size; the only limit is the devices memory size or free memory at the card.

Memory, memory manager, files manager

MS Duo Pro slot supports hot swap, the maximum card size is 4 Gb. RAM counts 64 Mb while flash memory of the device is 128 Mb (80 Mb of them are available for the user and the rest is occupied by preinstalled applications and the content).

Storage Wizard - is a standard application of UIQ 3.0 which shows memory distribution in the device. Opening the first bookmark one can view memory storage by separate types (the device, memory card). In our case memory card number one is the phone memory in reality (for some reason it is displayed so now). The second bookmark represents the distribution of the memory used by different applications.

Files manager allows looking through the users folders structure both in memory of the device, and on flash card. You may choose several files or folders, remove them, copy or move. Managers options are standard. Using it is possible to send some files to other device using Bluetooth or IrDA.


Connection quality of Sony Ericsson P990i does not cause any censures, the device works quite well in various conditions. Ring volume is high, the smartphone is well heard. Taking into account the possibility of setting mp3 as a ring tone it is not necessary to speak about 40-voice polyphony (hardly someone will use its options). The vibrating alert is of the average force or hardly above. This point also does not contain any differences from the previous model.

The leader of a product line by Sony Ericsson looks ambiguously for traditional users of P-series. We may remember cut down functions of JogDial, not always necessary QWERTY-keypad (and one language for it by default), disputable configuration of managing elements. But those innovations that appeared in the device make it to be a real leader. Lets list them:

  • WiFi presence;
  • 2-megapixel camera with maximum photo and video quality;
  • UIQ 3.0 with very wide set of standard options;
  • Support of all possible ways of text input;
  • UMTS presence, video call support.

At the moment of Sony Ericsson P990i appearance similar products by other manufacturers will not be sold in retail networks (there will be something similar, but without touch screens). The device will cost about 800-850 dollars in the beginning of sales and this price is quite reasonable. The company starts focusing not only to users crazy about technologies (techi), but mostly to mass business audience. That is why the continuity of generations in the field of ergonomics is not kept in comparison with P900/P910. The desire to lard the device with the maximum number of functions and keep cost at the same level developed into the interesting device. Possible disadvantages for businessmen within the next year will include only absence of Voice over IP support; this technology is present and develops in products by Nokia (lets remember Eseries).

It looks improbable that the device will be released in the first quarter. Most likely, this will happen in April or even in May. Delays are explained with the instability of UIQ 3.0 work. Final validation of Sony Ericsson P990i inside the company of Sony Ericsson is appointed to mid-January. Now the smartphone is not workable (usual mistakes in UIQ 3.0, the same concerns to the interface of the camera and other things). The majority of devices can be named as partially alive.

I shall make a personal note. As the consecutive user of smartphones by Sony Ericsson, I missed appearance of 910 as far as 900 absolutely met my requirements at that moment. 750 appearance has forced to refuse from 900 because with Opera Mini sites viewing became possible on the small phone. Working with mail is organized in the same way on both models and does not show any special opportunities. Other functions are not so claimed outside of the office or home (do you often look PDF-files or something similar in motion or when driving car?). So, other applications of 900 could be attributed as almost unusable. Nevertheless Sony Ericsson P990i, has a lot of chances to be one of my devices for the following reasons:

  • Almost normal postal client, support of MS Office investments
  • WiFi Presence - for me it means an opportunity to load all mail (30-40 mb), note necessary letters and remove unnecessary during the lunch
  • VPN - necessary function for corporate networks entrance, for example, in Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung.
  • the normal camera; here there is a parity with 750i/W800i
  • Viewing images on the large screen (750 it is not absolutely convenient in this point, 900 has the low-resolution screen too)
  • Transferring sound by Bluetooth (I shall put my smart in a bag, I dont need it in hands)

It is my brief list of pluses. Minuses include degenerated ergonomics to which it will be necessary to get used to.

Ultimately Id like to note, that top solutions by Nokia gradually aspire to get all features of devices on UIQ 3.0, in particular, of Sony Ericsson P990i. It chooses the same additional programs, develop the interface of a 60th series in the same direction (it becomes closer and closer with every Future Pack), and supports many solutions similar to UIQ 3.0. In a result, I suppose, we shall see rather interesting struggle of two devices of the next generation. At present Sony Ericsson P990i has no such big safety factor, as its predecessors. It will be a leader in the market of Symbian-smartphones up to the end of 2006, until Nokia will make rather good offer. Top Sony Ericsson P990i updating will appear only in the middle of 2007. In 2006 we shall see two more Symbian-devices by Sony Ericsson, but they will have lower class.

P.S. For sure we shall expand this review consisting of three parts with the description of the new camera interface, examples of photos and video. Also the greater number of Sony Ericsson P990 screens photos in various modes of operation will be added in existing parts of the review. But the basic strong and weak features of the smartphone are already specified here, they will not change at all. You can form your opinion about the device on the basis of our review.

Review Sony Ericsson P990. Part 1>>>

Review Sony Ericsson P990. Part 2>>>

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Yana Vilchek (yana_vilchek@yahoo.com)

Published — 28 October 2005

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



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