The P990i is quite a beast, both inside and out. Physically it's huge -- it's main section incorporates a large screen and small Qwerty keyboard, while the number pad is on the outside of a flip-down panel that covers about one-fifth of the screen when it's folded up.
This is the only handset we can think of (apart from its predecessors in the P series) to come with a screwdriver. This is not a homage to Ikea as some may imagine, but it's actually for removing the flip-down panel, leaving the touchscreen for number dialling and the minute keyboard exposed.
Inside there's a cornucopia of software designed to keep both the consumer and business user happy. With full 3G support -- including for video calls -- the P990i certainly packs in the features. It's just a shame this is such an unfriendly handset to get used to.
We've waited a long time for Sony Ericsson's P990i to surface (it was announced last October) but at last we have one in our hands. And what large hands we need -- this is a giant of a smart phone. At 114mm by 57mm by 25mm it's not for the faint hearted: it is a serious looking piece of kit.
When you open the flip it gets even taller -- over 150mm. With the flip down you can't see the numberpad, but making calls is still possible -- you use the touchscreen to tap out numbers or access the contacts list.
The flip section contains a back and cancel button, a navigation key with central select button and two buttons which map onto left and right softmeus. A middle softmenu can be accessed with the navigation button's central key. These functions are all duplicated in one way or another when you open (or remove) the flip.
On the left edge of the casing is a jog wheel which lets you scroll up and down to move through lists and adjust volume -- press it in to make selections. Quite a long way beneath it is a back button -- we found bending our thumb to reach it a bit tedious. Lower down still is a lock button that disables keys and the touchscreen. Above the scroll wheel is a button which will launch either the device's media player or FM radio.
On the right edge is the slot for memory expansion -- Sony Memory Stick Duo or PRO Duo -- and a button that you can configure to either launch the Web browser, media player, sound recorder, video telephony, task manager or go to the device main menu or the activity menu (these last two let you get to software and services on the phone, and what is on the activity menu may differ between operators).
Another button on this edge launches the main camera and shoots photos. You can also start the camera running by opening the lens cover. You do this by swivelling a circle that sits on the back of the casing.
The stylus lives in a housing on the top-left back corner, and the infrared port and main power switch are on the top edge, while the bottom houses the connector for charger and accessories.
Among the accessories is a docking cradle, and you get the PC Suite software which you'll need to synchronise the P990i with a PC.
There is so much going on with the P990i that it is difficult to know where to start. As an ordinary handset it is tri-band GSM, with 3G thrown in. A front-facing camera caters for video calling, and we've already noted the 2-megapixel camera on the back, which has a flash and self portrait mirror. Autofocus means your shots should be nice and clear, and there is a macro shooting mode.