Sony Ericsson P990 Smartphone Review


Flip Closed:

In standby mode the homescreen shows the standard service information. In the line at the top you can see the signal and battery straight, below them is the carrier name and at the bottom are the soft keys functions and the time and date. In the middle, over the wallpaper are displayed icons that indicate the function of the D-pad, or can be scrolled with the jog-dial. The main menu and some of the sub menus can be displayed as either 3 by 3 grid of icons or as a list. When they are as icons, the image changes as you point on it, similar to other Sony Ericsson phones. Although the icons look good and are big in size, we'd like to see the name of every option below the picture, so we won't have to point at it to see what it does.

Flip Opened:

On the top of the screen is the carrier name and the standard service information (signal and battery straight) is on the bottom line, combined with shortcuts menus and task manager icons. Above are four shortcuts and the time and date. Although the screen size (resolution) is bigger when the flip is opened, the main menu is still seen as grid of only nine icons and so are the sub-menus, but the latter now include much more options that have been hidden while the flip is closed.


Moving through the menus is somewhat slow, and although you have perfect navigation using either the jog-dial or the d-pad (when the flip is closed) or clicking on the icons (when the flip is opened) you won't be very fast as loading some menus requires waiting that can even be annoying.
Themes allow for basic graphic customization of the interface, but 3rd party software may help for deep customization of the smartphone, as the UIQ interface over Symbian is a smartphone operating system.
The Task manager shows you recently used or opened applications and allows you to stop them, but it lacks options for switching all off.


Managing your contacts with the P990 is very easy. They are displayed as a list, showing the name and the main number, but not displaying the caller id icon. Searching for a contact is done by direct typing of words, but unfortunately the phone searches in the first word only, and if you've entered First and Last name the contact would be displayed as Last, First and searching by the first name won't be successful. This is ridiculous for smartphone, and we think that even if a name (first or last) consists of more than one word, searching should be achieved by any of them. In this situation, a Windows Mobile Pocket PC handles searches much better!
When adding a contact you can't make a mistake – everything's easy and clear, and the fields are divided into a few tabs, as it is with other Sony Ericsson phones. You can easily add additional numbers and emails fields if you need some, and you won't experience any limitations. If you want you can also add personal ringtone or callerID image, and with the latter the phone allows you to capture the image at the moment with small window using the camera.


Although it is a smartphone, the P990 doesn't have significant improvements in its organizer, too. The calendar can be comfortably viewed as a month or as a week, with the latter originally arranging the days in a way that uses the whole display resolution. Adding an appointment is done in a few quick steps and the same goes for other reminders in the calendar. In the Tools menu you have the standard calculator (no scientific one), converter (distances, volumes, weights, temperatures, speeds, areas, currencies), stopwatch (saving nine laps), countdown timer, and world clock with three alarms that can be programmed with separate times, alerts (including an option for FM Radio as an alert). Also here is the File manager that once again resembles one of Sony Ericsson (non smart) phone and not computer browser, as it should be with a smartphone.

Notes and Tasks, as well as QuickOffice, PDF Reader and Business Card Scanner can be found in the Office Menu. The notes are just text notes with no options, while in the tasks you can set their priority and add an alarm to them. Using the Quick Office you can open documents formatted for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. As the program is the same as that in S60 phones, you won't find any big improvements in the UIQ cousin: still files with colorful backgrounds are not visualized correctly. On a positive not, even a large excel document (500KB with a dozen of sheets) was viewable, unlike the S60 version.
A nice addition is that you can create or edit Word and Excel documents on the phone. The interface is not as comfortable as the one on a computer, but it still works if you have to do this and rely on your phone only. You can use Format toolbar for color options (font and background), bold/italic/underlined and even aligning.

For opening of Adobe Acrobat files, the phone comes with PDF+ preinstalled, which allows viewing in landscape and searching of text, but doesn't have the best visualization and reading a more complex file is not the easiest job. Although it can open larger documents, we would suggest you not relying on it, if the document is not formatted for phone usage.

The thing that we found most interesting was the scanner for Business Cards, which actually worked! To use it, you capture a photo of a random business card and then process it for a quarter of the minute (about 15 seconds) to take the information out of it – then it saves it in a new contact, automatically adding its name, number, email, address, summing all the information up as a not, and putting the photo of the business card as caller id image. In is not sure that the program will work in 100% of the cases, but we found it very useful and well done!

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