Sony Ericsson's K608i looks like a small GSM handset, but it isn't; it's a small 3G handset, complete with front and back cameras, a very solid design, low-key good looks and something of an identity crisis on the naming front.
Maybe, like us, you'll get yours from 3, where it is called the K608i -- the name we'll use. But you could just as easily go to Vodafone where it is the V600i, or to Orange or O2 where it calls itself the K600i. In each case you'll find some operator tweaks to the internals and to the outside design, but the core of the handset remains the same. From 3 you can get it free on a £30-per-month tariff, or for £50 on a £20-per-month option.
Pretty but not ostentatious sums up the overall look of this handset. Its plastic shell gives one of the best impressions of aluminium we've seen.
Sony Ericsson has crammed a great deal into a small and light casing. At just 100g and a tiny 45 by 104.3 by 19.2mm, the K608i should fit into most pockets snugly.
The screen suffers a little in terms of size because of the overall small hardware, but this is compensated for by the 262K colours. The keypad, on the other hand, is remarkably expansive, with the number keys so widely spaced as to make hitting the wrong one accidentally almost impossible.
Button-lovers will be drawn to the K608i because almost everywhere you look there is something to prod, twist or slide. Even the battery cover, more usually removed by pushing at a single locking-notch, is here locked and unlocked by sliding a pair of catches that sit on the left side of the casing. Also on this edge, under a rubber cover, is the mini-USB port you'll use with the provided cable and software to share information with a PC.
Located towards the bottom of the screen on the left and right outer edges are two buttons, one for starting a video call, one for accessing 3G services. In our case the latter was marked with the 3 logo.
The right edge of the casing provides, towards the top end, a pair of small buttons that double as volume and camera zoom controls, and towards the bottom end, the shutter button for the camera. This might seem like an odd location for a shutter button, but in fact it's ergonomically perfect, because you hold this handset longways to take snapshots and video with the back camera, with the screen acting as a viewfinder in landscape orientation. When you're holding the K608i like this, the shutter falls under the right forefinger, with zoom buttons under the left, while the right thumb sits on a softkey providing quick access to settings.
You activate the camera by swivelling a round lens cover away from the lens. Swivelling it back over the lens turns the camera off. The lens cover doesn't protect the LED flash, which is constantly uncovered, and is the least ergonomic part of the whole handset: we found it difficult to swivel one-handed, and would have much preferred a sliding lens cover.
There is also a second camera on the front of the casing for video calls.