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Sony Ericsson C905a (AT&T)

>> Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The 2.4 inch screen features 240 by 320 pixel resolution and displays up to 262K colors. Below the LCD are a five way control pad and six hardware buttons. Unfortunately, the Send and End buttons are in between the others, so careful aim is required. Slide the front panel up and you'll reveal a recessed, membrane keypad finished in matte black. The keys are quiet, but a little too stiff for easy dialing. The slider mechanism itself was solid, though, and snapped into place with a reassuring chuck.

There's a built in accelerometer, which was useful for navigation as well as gaming. In short, not the most ergonomic phone on the planet, but perfectly usable. Sony Ericsson C905a (AT&T) is a quad band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) GSM and tri-band (850/1900/2100) HSDPA handset. That means it's a true world phone with high speed data capability both here and overseas. Voice calls sounded clear and loud in both directions, with good wind resistance, although slightly on the nasal side through the earpiece. Reception was solid, with a lock on 3G even in a rural area of Massachusetts that trips up other AT&T handsets.

The speakerphone was a tad harsh but had decent volume, and Sony Ericsson C905a (AT&T) sounded fine through a Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset. Battery life was on the low side at 3 hours and 46 minutes. The home screen features colorful, alternating wallpapers that fade in and out every few seconds. Once you dive into the user interface, it's easy enough to get around. But that's mainly due to redundancy Sony Ericsson C905a (AT&T) features the same triple menu, jam packed system that plagues unlocked Sony Ericsson W995a.

It could use some serious editing, but at least it's responsive. There are a few nice sounding ringtones on board, and plenty of options for buying new ones or assigning your own MP3 or AAC files. The NetFront Web browser is good enough for WAP sites and offers a mouse cursor. But it made a mess of desktop sites and took forever to load them even over HSDPA. Sony Ericsson C905a (AT&T) also excels as a media device. Its GPS radio works with the TeleNav powered AT&T Navigator for voice enabled, turn by turn directions my test unit locked on to my location reasonably quickly and worked exactly as I expected.

It also hooks into AT&T Video Share, AT&T Music, and Mobile E-mail, and comes with an FM radio and an instant messaging client for AIM, Yahoo, and MSN. Sony throws in a 2GB Memory Stick Micro card and a convenient USB reader, which makes up for the fact that no one else uses this format. Music tracks sounded clear and crisp over a paired set of Motorola S9-HD stereo Bluetooth headphones. Standalone videos played back perfectly smoothly, which is something many of today's smartphones can't even manage.

Sony Ericsson C905a (AT&T) is AT&T's only camera phone with more than 3 megapixels, so it's by far the best the carrier has to offer. The 8 megapixel camera has lots of options (including face detection) and a very powerful flash for a camera phone. It lit up simulated indoor and night shots surprisingly well. But in outdoor daylight, the default exposure metering washes out bright areas and the edges of things appear just a touch soft. Thanks to the much better low light performance, this camera comes out ahead of the W995a, but I still prefer the Samsung Memoir's daylight photos. You can tweak your photos after the fact with Sony Ericsson's PhotoDJ software, which lets you alter levels, fix contrast, or add captions.

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