With its 2-megapixel snapper, onboard music player and blogging features, Sony Ericsson is hoping that the K550i will be as big a success as the K750i. The phone is available free on contract with most operators, or you can buy it SIM-free online for around £170.
When it comes to looks, some phones have it and some don't. The K550i is definitely in the former category as the silver and black finish and slightly slimmer than normal profile give it an air of luxury.
As you would expect of a Cyber-shot phone, the camera features are well thought-out and easy to use. You can start up the snapper either by sliding open the lens cover on the rear or by just hitting the camera button on the side. Held horizontally, the phone actually feels like a camera, with the shutter button at the top and the sharp and bright screen acting as a neat viewfinder.
On the data side, you get support for GPRS and EDGE, but not 3G downloads. Nevertheless, the K550i still packs in some cool online functionality. It has a picture-blogging feature that automatically creates an online blog that you can then upload snaps to directly from the phone. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds on Web sites to keep up to date on the latest news. The wireless connectivity is reasonable too, with both Bluetooth and IrDA available for connecting the handset to a laptop.
Although this isn't branded as a Walkman phone, the built-in MP3 player is almost identical to the one you'll find on the company's official music handsets. It works brilliantly, thanks to the easy track navigation, and the sound quality from the headphones is also impressive. There's even an FM radio for when you get bored of your own tunes.
The worst thing about the K550i is its fiddly keypad. Instead of normal buttons, the keypad is made up of little more than thin metal strips. They look fantastically stylish, but in practical terms they're the equivalent of turning up to a building site dressed in an Italian suit. As a result, texting feels like you're taking on a particularly tricky assault course.
There are also some issues with the camera. Although the controls are excellent, the shots aren't up to the same standard. It does a fine job in bright sunlight, but indoors, even with the blindingly bright flash switched on, the 2-megapixel snaps always seem to end up looking quite grainy.
And while we're a big fan of the phone's music features, there are a few issues here too. There's no standard headphone adaptor supplied, so you can't use your own cans to listen to music. Also, the phone uses Memory Stick Micro (M2) rather than standard microSD cards. This means adding extra memory to the phone will be expensive, as at current street prices M2 cards are more than twice the price of microSD cards.
Despite the fiddly keypad and the less than impressive indoor shots from the camera, we still really like the K550i. It looks great, has a brilliant screen, a top-class music player and some neat features such as support for RSS feeds. It packs in pretty much everything the average person could want in a stylish and easy-to-use package.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide