If there's one company that has done its utmost to blur the boundaries between mobile phones and digital cameras, it's Sony Ericsson. The C902 continues this trend as it sports a 5-megapixel camera complete with face detection and autofocus.
It's available for free on all but the cheapest contracts or will set you back around £250 on pay as you go, but has it got what it takes to make you a happy snapper?
Sony Ericsson has been producing some really stylish handsets of late and the C902 is no exception. It's very slim, measuring just 11mm at its thickest point, yet it also feels rock solid. The black and sliver colour scheme of our model looks suitable classy and there's a cool sliding mechanism -- the top part of the phone slides upward to reveal the camera lens hidden beneath.
Sliding the camera open also reveals another new feature: eight touch buttons, arranged in two rows at either side of the screen giving you direct access to camera functions like flash, scene modes and face detection.
Flip the phone over and on the rear beneath the 5-megapixel sensors, you'll find a micro mirror to help you frame self portraits. Above the lens, there's an LED flash. It would have been nice to see a xenon flash instead, but you can't have everything. At least there's pretty minimal shutter lag when you go to take a snap.
The phone features the usual easy-to-use Sony Ericsson menu system so it's a cinch to operate, but there are some nice additional touches such as the built-in accelerometer. Turn the phone while viewing pictures on the screen and the handset will automatically switch from portrait to landscape mode, for example.
The onboard music player is also excellent and similar to that featured on the company's Walkman range of phones. The supplied earphones are comfortable and have good bass response, something that's often missing from cans supplied with cheaper handsets.
You get 160MB of onboard memory for storing tunes and pictures, but you can boost this further by adding M2 memory stick cards in to the slot beneath the battery cover. There's a secondary camera on the front as well as so you can use the phone to make 3G video calls. HSDPA is supported for speedy Web downloads and Bluetooth for wirelessly transferring pictures and other data to your PC or laptop.
There's so much to like about the C902 that it's difficult to find much wrong with the handset. One noticeable issue is that the phone can feel sluggish at times. When you open the camera cover, there's a definite delay of 4-5 seconds before the controls for the camera actually appear on the screen. Similarly, screen updates can be slow when moving between the various options in the media player.
While the 5-megapixel shots have bags of vivid colour and generally lots of detail, the images still won't cause your compact camera to quake in its boots. This is because the tiny lens isn't quite good enough to do the sensor justice, so when you zoom in on shots you've downloaded to a computer, they look soft. They're still a good deal better than the usual fare you get from rival camera phones, but they're definitely not on a par with those you get from a dedicated digital camera.
The only other issue we have is with the quality of recordings in video mode. Recordings don't look too bad when you're videoing mostly static scenes, but as soon as it has to deal with lots of fast movement the video tends to look very pixelated.
The C902 is a great-looking phone with some really cool design features, such as the slide-out lens cover. Despite being packed with a wealth of features, it remains very easy to use. Although the 5-megapixel camera takes very good shots, they're still not going to rival those from a dedicated digital camera.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday