Sony Ericsson has created some of the best camera phones ever made, so we were understandably excited when we first heard about the Sony Ericsson's new Cyber-shot phone, the K850i. We find out if Sony Ericsson have cracked it again and produced another shooting star.
The K850i is currently available SIM-free from Sony Ericsson for around £350 or for free on a monthly contract from several major networks.
At first sight, the K850i looks quite chunky but on closer inspection you'll notice that it's about the same size as its predecessor, the K810i. However, unlike the K810i -- or any Sony Ericsson camera phone, for that matter -- the K850i has had a dramatic facelift around the keypad area.
At the top of the keypad section, underneath the screen, are three touch-sensitive sections marked out by white dots. In order to navigate through the phone's menu and select options, you have to tap the white dots with your thumb, which sometimes worked beautifully and other times didn't respond at all, leaving us rather annoyed.
The four-way navigation key is also a little fiddly to press due to the fact that it's set in between the keypad keys rather than on top of them. Then there's the issue of the number keys, which although are relatively easy to press, seem to be a little too small to press confidently, particularly when we were tapping out a very quick text message.
Overlooking our issues with the keypad's design, we think the rest of the phone is attractive and well laid out. We were taken with the camera's layout, in particular. It's the closest experience to using a standalone digital camera that we've seen so far.
There's a good sized shutter button and zoom rocker, an easy-to-use mode switch that changes the camera to video mode or takes you to the gallery, and an on-and-off switch that activates the camera and opens the lens cover.
Unusually, the mechanical lens cover is shielded by a cover itself and
we've been told this is to prevent the mechanical cover from being
opened accidentally. We're worried, though, that this extra bit could
get scratched blocking the lens' view and rendering the automated cover
redundant, but only time will tell.