Video calling is one of the crucial elements of any 3G handset, and the front-mounted VGA camera comes into its own here. You can also switch over to the back camera, so you can show the person you're talking to what you're looking at. Video delivery itself was of good quality, and you can change some camera settings during calls, switching to use more of the screen for your own or your caller's video, altering brightness and zoom, and even using a night mode.
Stills shot with the back camera can be edited using the PhotoDJ software, which allows you to write and draw onto images, and apply effects and frames to smaller images. VideoDJ allows you to combine movies and images, while MusicDJ is a composer that makes use of a range of prerecorded sound clips.
There is a music player, but the K608i is definitely not one of the fast-growing breed of music-focused handsets. Sound quality through the provided stereo headset (with proprietary connector) is good enough, and at top volume piercingly loud, but the handset's memory is far too limited for serious music fans. 33MB is a reasonable amount of internal memory for a handset, but there is no opportunity to expand that using memory cards if you want to carry more than a few tracks.
A better bet is to stick to the excellent FM radio. We automatically saved 20 preset stations in a matter of seconds and it delivered broadcasts through the phone's speaker or headphones at a pretty good volume and quality. Thanks to RDS, station information appeared on the screen too.
Sony Ericsson has provided a range of ways into the software and services on the K608i. As well as the various shortcut buttons for accessing the camera, video calling and so on, you can press the joypad to access key functions. Push its centre and you go to the main menu, through which all applications and settings are available. Push the joypad to the left and you are into a menu for creating text, MMS and voice messages. Push it to the right and you can choose a profile. Push it downwards and you are in your contacts book.
Best of all, push the joypad upwards and you get to the activity menu, which, via a series of tabbed screens you can access by pushing the joypad left and right, displays Internet bookmarks, shortcuts to applications and services (like profiles, turning Bluetooth on and off, and so on), and missed calls. Put a little effort into customising the menus and you can turn the K608i into a very personalised handset.
Physically, the K608i is a sign of things to come where 3G handsets are concerned. The chunkier alternatives won't cut the mustard for much longer.
While video calling was generally a positive experience, with video calls being reliable, the handset's screen is too small to cope well with showing both caller and callee images. That's probably adequate for most people, as looking at yourself while making a video call is hardly essential.
We had no problems with audio call quality or with using 3G for downloads or browsing 3's online services. Battery life was fair, though Sony Ericsson's estimates for talk and standby time seem over-generous. If we were using this as our everyday handset, we'd want to administer mains power every other day to be on the safe side.
The one thing that really holds this handset back, though, is its lack of memory. Shortage of space inside the casing may have put the kibosh on including a memory expansion slot, but by failing to provide one, Sony Ericsson has produced a superior 3G phone with one hand tied behind its back.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide