Sony Ericsson c902 Cybershot Mobile Cameraphone Review

Sony Ericsson Australia asked me to review their new c902 camera phone and join their blogger product review program

I accepted with the condition that I could be completely honest with my review including all the pros and cons. Now that I’ve reviewed it I’m giving it away to one of my guest writers to thank them for all the articles they’ve written for my blogs.

Anyway… onto the Sony Ericsson c902. As you can see in the photos below its has a standard size for a “candy bar” shaped phone but its thinner and feels nice and solid because its case is largely made of metal.

Sony Ericsson c902 Camera Phone

Sony Ericsson c902 Overview

This device is a great example of Device Convergence because it continues the trend of cramming more and more technologies and features into 1 product eg: Audio & Video Phone calls, SMS, Calendar/Scheduling, Games, Music Player, Radio, Internet access, Camera for Photos/Video recording and Local data transfer (Bluetooth).

The end result is an ability to do things which were never possible a few years ago eg: Live Photo Blogging the 14km City2Surf fun run and taking lots of other photos and videos along the City2Surf course to create a slide-show to publish later on the internet.The main strength of the c902 is its 5 megapixel camera with touch screen menu buttons and an innovative slide out cover. If I was going on holiday I would of course take my semi-professional serious camera gear but for most other purposes eg: taking photos at a party, while commuting etc the Sony Ericsson c902 Camera Phone would be quite sufficient and always be at hand in your pocket for a quick grab shot of something interesting you’ve spotted.

I’m very fast at typing SMS on my Nokia 6300 and I send a lot of them so I got frustrated by the keys on the c902 which are smaller, more smooth and slippery than the 6300 keys so my typing speed was slowed down appreciably while testing the c902.

For most people this probably won’t be a problem but it was for me because I’m tall (6ft 3″) with proportionately larger feet, hands and fingers than average.

Sony Ericsson c902 Cost/Price

Prices from Australian stores vary a lot – these are the ones I’ve found: $491.90 E-tech-direct.com, $540 outright from Telechoice (Optus), $549 All Phones (unsure locked to which network), $609 from Strathfield (Optus), $609 Optus shop, $749 Vodafone shop, $749 Crazy Johns (Vodafone)

I have read the best reviews of the Sony Ericsson c902 and many user comments/feedback about it and created a list of the Best features, Annoying Problems, Tips & Tricks to customise the phone to suit your needs.

Best Features

General

  • plus Optional setup wizard – choose language, time, date, copy sim numbers to phone (ignore the registration sms to Sony)
  • plus Frequencies: 3G /GSM850/ GSM900/ GSM1800/ GSM1900
  • plus 3G HSDPA high-speed Internet – The third generation of mobile networks brings the convenience of broadband Internet to your mobile phone. Fast data transfer speeds – up to 3.6Mbit – give you quick, easy access to a world of audio and video streaming, Web surfing, multimedia messaging and email wherever you go.
  • plus Accelerometer – Enjoy your pictures in portrait or landscape mode. To move between modes, simply rotate the phone and the picture automatically auto-rotates on screen. This also works when web browsing on the internet.
  • plus The default icon grid menu has quite similar positioning and look of menu items to newer Nokia S40 series menus
  • plus 240 x 320 pixel TFT QVGA screen displaying 262,144 colours
  • plus Good battery life, you only need to charge it twice a week with light/medium use
  • plus 5 alarm options – can use photo image as well. Calendar has separate colours for weekends – Saturday and Sunday. Month view is quite good, similar to MS Outlook. It’s possible to sync your calendar and various other data via either SyncML or Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.
  • plus Shortcut button (under the call button) handily displays Missed calls, Unread SMS’s etc as “New Events”
  • plus Includes Access NetFront Web Browser but I would still install the free Opera Mini web browser to use instead
  • plus The included Need for Speed game is awesome – just tilt phone to turn and control the car around corners
  • plus You can use the cable included in the phone package to connect your phone to your computer via USB. You can then access your phone like a removable USB drive – downloading photos straight from the 160mb internal memory and also easily adding custom ringtones, games, wallpaper.
  • plus Metal strips along all 4 sides help you to grip the phone even if you have sweaty fingers

Sony Trackid

Audio

  • plusTrackID is one of the coolest features about this phone and lots of other Sony Ericsson’s latest phones.

    TrackID is a brilliant free feature (although it will obviously use some of your mobile internet data plan).

    When you’re listening to radio it records a small section of the song, uploads it to a special server and after a few seconds you’ll be redirected to a website with the song information (if the song you recorded was in Gracenote’s music database). The service is quite accurate for most popular music.

  • plus Good quality microphone for recording voice dictation notes. Saves in AMR format
  • plus Bluetooth™ stereo A2DP technology – allowing you to stream stereo music to wireless headphones or speakers
  • plus Loudspeaker located at the bottom back of the phone is top quality for listening to radio and MP3’s with depth of sound, not tinny like most mobile phones
  • plus You can talk into the plastic handsfree thingy on the headphone cord when making or answering calls
  • plus FM stereo radio and music player (AAC, AAC Plus, eAAC Plus, MP3, WAV, WMA)

Camera

  • plus Integration with Blogger.com to allow easy photo blogging direct from the phone eg: http://neeravbhatt.blogspot.com/
  • plus BestPic™ feature – Take 9 pictures in one second & Pick the best one.
  • plus Auto focus – noticeably improves image sharpness & clarity compared to camera phones with fixed focus.
  • plus The LED flash is surprisingly powerful. Note that Flash on=Colder coloured photos & Flash off=Warmer coloured photos
  • plus Camera has touch screen buttons (flash, timer, multiple shot etc) that vibrate with force feedback when touched
  • plus Reflection of self when taking own photo on small silver square next to camera lens (great for self portraits)
  • plus Camera lens is well concealed under the innovative slide out cover which prevents scratching and dust gathering on its surface
  • plus 5 Megapixel camera that can also take video.
  • plus Videos are recorded in MP4 format (H.263 codec) at a bitrate of appx 450 Kbps in QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels) and 30 frames per second

Camera / Photo features

Have a look at these examples of photos taken with the Sony Ericsson c902 camera phone to see what it’s capable of.

Tips & Tricks

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  • Multi tasking – can open more than one application at once eg: a game, calendar or web browser and swap between them by pressing the Activity menu key (with the 2 squares on the button) and switching to the “Running Apps” tab

To quickly check the info below press either of the volume up/down buttons when the phone is unlocked:

  • battery level in exact percentage
  • Cell ID (Suburb name)
  • Phone memory free
  • Recurrent alarm

Customising – Wallpapers, Ring Tones, Games etc

WALLPAPER: – You can get over 48000 FREE 240×320 wallpapers from Mobile9.com – I use the Voyage 2 Nature wallpaper.

Other good wallpapers include: Biking Snoopy, Smiling Snoopy, Sleeping Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Earth viewed from Outer Space, Mystical, Moon waterfall and Beach Hammock

RINGTONES: Don’t bother buying ringtones because the Sony Ericsson c902 supports MP3 ringtones which you can add to the phone when you connect it to your computer via the USB cable. I use the TV theme for Doctor Who as my Phonecall ringtone.

SCREENSAVERS, FLASH ANIMATIONS and APPLICATIONS: can also be downloaded from Mobile9.com and Getjar – I use the flash Carbon Fibre clock as my screensaver

Annoying Problems

  • minus The plastic screen protector which is shipped with the phone should be split between the slide out camera top and screen area. Otherwise it’s impossible to open the slide out camera. I’ve heard from quite a few people who had the same problem.
  • minus You should immediately buy and stick on a screen protector otherwise you will really regret it when the screen gets scratched after a few weeks
  • minus In Australia I don’t think the phone can be bought outright unbranded and unlocked. Some people have said they managed to unlock and debrand their c902’s at a site called Davinci Team
  • minus Cant choose different tones in different profiles – eg: different ringtones in Office mode and Normal mode
  • minus Battery warning at few % left and at 0% it just switches off by itself with no sound warning. If you try and turn it on again there’s no response. On most Nokia’s it would turn on for a few seconds, say “Low battery” and then turn off.
  • minus Installing applications isn’t obvious – go to “Main Menu >> Organiser >> File Manager”
  • minus Radio – not easy to change radio stations because it doesn’t have a button on the cord. If the phones locked and you weren’t on the Radio menu Channels option when it locked its hard to switch stations quickly
  • minus The proprietary shaped plastic power adaptor & headphone plugs feel fragile and like they’re going to break when plugging into the phone and removing them
  • minus Call dial and hang up buttons packed together with options, menu, clear, shortcut and numbers. Not firm to press. Slippery / shiny surface. Not enough depth or spacing between buttons
  • minus Power on button very fiddly and hard to feel or find to switch on early in the morning
  • minus Annoying deleting letters and editing texts because clear, hangup and back button all feel like one button. Need to poke keys with nails rather than thumbs
  • minus Can’t see volume bars on screen when you press dedicated up and down buttons on side of phone –volume panel appears when music on – otherwise volume buttons show phone status and percentage battery used
  • minus Keypad lock irritating for ex-Nokia users because its reversed – star (*) then back button – can’t be adjusted to seconds you want – locked to about 15 seconds
  • minus Appointment automatically set to ring 15 minutes before, forcing you to change it to ring “at start” for each appointment
  • minus Appointment tone preset – too soft – too short – one beep only
  • minus Appointment always has to have a duration – which means you cant use it to put quick notes – because that’s in a separate notes menu – if you put in a reminder – it might clash with another appointment – makes it hard to enter notes fast – not like a Nokia reminder
  • minus Can only set & see Appointments through the calendar not Tasks (reminders) even thought you can schedule tasks. Tasks have same tone as Appointments

Sony Ericsson c902 Unlock & Debranding

Some people have said they managed to unlock and debrand their c902’s at a site called Davinci Team

Other People’s Reviews

Mobile phones have continued to evolve far beyond being a simple telephone, and the C902 is the latest in this line of development. I have more than the means to simply phone or text home to say I’m running late, sitting comfortably and unobtrusively, in my shirt pocket.

I can send and receive email. Surf the net (reminding me that I need to create a dedicated mobile device stylesheet for disassociated), participate in conference calls, organise my calender and tasks (I’ve long since dispensed with a paper diary), film and view video clips, listen to the radio or MP3s, and of course take photos – Disassociated.com

For a mobile phone camera there’s quite a few features on this camera that I’m used to on cameras alone. There are numerous settings like portrait, sport, beach/snow, document etc. There’s also options to shoot panorama shots and one of my favourites “best picture” – Semantically Driven

there are games on my old Motorola Razr, well two and they weren’t very good. This has Need for Speed on it and you steer by turning the phone, not that unresponsive keypad, by turning the phone. Very cool. One of the other games is the classic Solitaire. So what!? I hear you ask. A phone is a phone! Let me tell you, nothing makes me happier than having a game like Solitaire whilst waiting for my wife at the fitting rooms at Myer – Quit Your Day Job

Kewl features on this C902, little ones, but its the little ones that count : The FM radio is great – It has really good reception on the Mornington Peninsula which even proper dedicated $300 boomboxes dont get… and u can minimize the radio and do other phone stuff and just let it play. Either thru headphones, which u can also bluetooth phone on, or a speaker which I have the TripleJ Friday Night FunkTrain kranking on.

I also played with the AutoFace recognition when you take pictures yday and that was way kewl, just need to get my NextG internet working on it, so I can picblog then really test it. Oh, and the C902 has picture symbols when u send text messages, which blackberry forgot or I dont know how to use them. That makes me 😀 😛 😉 – Ben Barren

Media/Specialist Mobile Phone Reviews

When it all comes down to it, is it recommendable? It depends. If you’re a heavy texter, then no – you’ll end up hating the keypad. If you’re in search of an advanced camera phone, you might want to wait a few months for C905 instead. This will be a bit pricier, but it’s also a lot better. If you need a camera phone now, C902 should do fine – Mobile88

The Sony Ericsson C902 is a very promising cameraphone with some extra features and camera improvements. The stylish slim body, the original slide-up camera design and excellent build quality gain the C920 good points among style-conscious users – GSM Arena

This is the best camera phone in the Cyber-shot family to date. The pictures we’ve taken are sharp and colourful, and the camera operation is easy and intuitive. It may be missing some of the tech we see in many smartphones, but then, the C902 isn’t a smartphone – CNET Australia

Sony Ericsson’s latest Cyber-shot phone has an impressive mix of imaging and phone functions. There are a few minor issues, but on the whole this is a welcome addition to the market – PC World Australia

21 thoughts on “Sony Ericsson c902 Cybershot Mobile Cameraphone Review”

  1. A very comprehensive review here Neerav. I agree about the slippery little keys. I too am thinking of giving mine away because I’m locked into a contract with my current phone/provider. So are you giving yours away without a SIM card?

    EDITOR: hi jen. The guy I’m giving the c902 to already has a prepaid sim so all I have to do is clear my contacts and other data from the c902 and then give it away

  2. This is a great read, Neerav! It’s extremely thorough, and your opinions are honest and very comprehensive, meaning this is great feedback for us to take on – most useful. Many thanks.

  3. Loved this phone to start with but now it constantly freezes then switches itself off, vodafone wont help me, ive not got insurance so they dont want to know, help!

  4. ” You can’t listen to the radio while charging the battery because the headphone socket use the same socket as the power adaptor ”

    If you notice the charger plug, it actually has a socket on top of it so you can plug in the headphones on top of the charger.

    Thats what its like with mine and most other new SE’s….

    EDITOR: Elie you are quite correct, now that you mention it I can see the extra socket on top of the charger.

    I will change the review accordingly

  5. Early, i thought sony ericsion is quite difficult to use, not a user friendly and all, at that time i was using Nokia. But i must say about the pixels quality of sony, it’s amazing i hope everyone agreed with me. . Thanks

  6. I like the specifications of this mobile like Capture life’s spontaneous moments and share them with your friends and family. Slim and stylish, with 5.0 megapixels, and touch screen camera keys, this phone looks as stunning as the shots it takes.

  7. With my k750i I was able to charge the phone by connecting it with the USB cable to the computer. (This was ideal for travelling, as i only had to bring the USB cable rather than a bulky three-pin plug charger.) It seems that i cannot do this with the C902 – to charge the phone i have to use the dedicated charger.
    I am hoping i am wrong about this. Has anyone been able to charge their c902 using ONLY the USB cable???

    Thanks!

    Majdnem

  8. Yep, all Sony ericsson phones support USB charging, I have a W890 and I can confirm that. However, you must note that all recent SE phones have quite large battery capacities and take long to charge, unlike earlier phones. Hope this helps!

    EDITOR: thanks Kel. I didnt leave the c902 plugged in via USB long enough to see if it charged the battery

  9. Excellent write-up Neerav, and thanks for mentioning my review. It’s kind of funny, but ever since reading your comment about the phone charger one of the plastic prongs stays plugged into the phone when I unplug the charger. It’s annoying because it’s a task and half to pull it out of the phone again.

  10. Hi Neerav! Thanks for a very detailed review. My husband’s phone is Sony Ericsson but mine’s not. At first, I find Sony Ericsson difficult to use, but after some time, I got used to it. This phone is great; and with 5.0 megapixels, it’s amazing! Thanks for the great review Neerav! I’m already convinced to switched to Sony Ericsson.

  11. I loved this phone when i first got it but since then mine has been back 3 times because of freezing and sceen pixelating and no sound and it has recently been replaced with a brabd new one and the bluetooth doesn’t work…….so i have just had bad luck i guess.

  12. I disagree re charging solely via USB lead. This will only work if the PC has the required/necessary software installed, or is in the mass storage mode. If in this mode, most phone functions are disabled. I’ve also tried a seperate USB charger for use in a vehicle 12V aux socket, and this does not work either. This situation has been confirmed by Sony Ericsson UK support. It certainly takes away some flexibility from an otherwise good phone.

  13. nice review….i also like the multitasking feature…but it’s a sad thing that you can’t assign different ringtones for diff profiles

    thnx

  14. Hi going back to the charging issue, has anyone else found this problem or a cure. I own a C902 which can be charged fine on my mains adaptor. I also own a genuine S.E. USB lead for it which connects fine with my PC and also at the same time charges it via the PC. My problem is that I want to charge the phone in my car via my USB car adaptor as I have a number of things I charge in the car that way. When I attach the phone via the genuine lead to the USB adaptor the phone gives me the usual 4 choices of connection Phone Mode media Transfer Print or Mass storage. Mass storage is no good as I need to use the phone in the car but although the others connect none of them appear to charge the phone as the little yellow lightening symbol dont come up….Any ideas

  15. phone was great to start but now it keeps freezing and now it has switched itself off and won’t switch on again past the initial blue light on the side coming on, very dissapointed

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