Sony Ericsson P990 Smartphone Review


The P990 is not only a business device – it also packs multimedia features. It has inherited the 2-megapixel camera with auto-focus from the K750 phone; situated on the back of the phone, it dominates it with its circle cover, that is active and so must be rotated to open the camera lens, automatically switching its application on after about 5-6 seconds. If the cover is opened you can turn the camera by holding the shutter key on the right side. A nice addition is that when you get the camera interface ready, a small LED in the form of camera next to the shutter key flashes a few times.

The camera's interface is in landscape mode and gives information for the settings chosen, and you can change them with the touch screen or the jog-dial. There are four resolution available (the biggest is 1600x1200 (1.9 megapixels) while the smallest is QVGA) with three options for compression. The options for white balance, color effects and frames are nicely present as they were with other camera-oriented Sony Ericsson phones, and we are happy that the shutter sound option now includes “Mute”.

Unfortunately P990 lacks the options for Best PIC and for taking Panorama, which were present in the K800 Cybershot model; as they are only software dependent, we'd also like to find them here, but Sony Ericsson have decided to put them in their camera-dedicated phones only.

Focusing on an object takes about five seconds, and the same time is required till the image captured is saved and the phone is ready to take another one. This time may be better, depending on your lightning conditions and the operations the phone does.
The camcorder option allows for taking of videos with QVGA (320x240) resolution. We'd like to see a bigger resolution and more options in such a powerful device, as it is with the N93 of Nokia for example, which allows for capturing of video with four times bigger resolution (VGA 640x480).

The images produced by the camera are above the average quality of 2-megapixel cameras; although in low light the camera suffers from its small sensor and produces lots of noise in the images, the ones captured in bright outdoor have realistic colors and don't show much noise. Unfortunately some images may occur blurred, and we guess this is due to noise-reduction system, that actually kills the detail in the images.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.3/6/9 feet (indoor)
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.3/6/9 feet (no light)

The best part about the phone's camera is its Macro function – we took some close-ups in low light, using the LED flash and the images occurred detailed, without noise, and with good focus. The images taken in day light are even better.


The audio player of the P990 has all the bells and whistles, all! Just like other Sony Ericsson phones you can sort the music by Aritst, Albums, or in Playlists. During playback you have very comfortable fullscreen interface, displaying all the information for the song and relatively big buttons that are logically arranged. Except the Normal settings, the phone has ten additional EQualizers including the “Mega Bass” known from the Walkman series of the manufacturer – they should be enough for personalizing the music by the taste of the listener, but we prefer not to use any of them. The volume through the headphone from the box is strong enough, but the quality is what they miss – once again we are sorry that the box doesn't contain adaptor for standard headphones (Sony Ericsson jack to 3.5mm) that would allow for listening to music with your Hi-Fi phones. The sound from the phone's speaker is even worse – it's not loud enough and you can't get any joy from listening to it, due to the lack of quality.
If you've left the music playing in background mode, it will appear in the activity menu (home screen) as a link showing the time elapsed – clicking it you get to the music player interface in a second.

Our inbox headphones were of so low quality, that their edges (although they are with circular shape) were not cut properly and taking the earbud out of our ear hurt us (scratching). This is something intolerable in accessory coming with HI-END phone.

The phone also features FM Radio with stereo sound and RDS support (this can obtain information (text) from the station over the air). Its interface is also comfortable and you can easily find what you need; the first time we started it, the application asked to save all the channels – it turned out to be useless, as we had no coverage and all the 20 stations saved were lacking signal. It won't be a problem, if you can delete them at once – but you can't. Saving a channel also doesn't allow you to save it with a name – if it supports RDS it will automatically capture some word, but if it doesn't, you'll only see its frequency.
Tuning can be done automatically (it stops on frequencies it detect signal), manually by 0.1 Mhz step or by manually entering an exact frequency.

It's sad that a powerful smartphone like the P990 can not play high-quality videos; we put a few minutes long video coded with H.264 codec and MPEG4 format, but the phone was not able to play them. 3GPP and MPEG4 with H.263 can be watched in fullscreen with landscape mode for greater size, but it is hard to get good quality of video from those formats.


The phone comes with a couple of games preinstalled: QuadraPop (Tetris-like game) and Vijay Singh Pro Golf 2005 3D. You can download many new application done for Symbian UIQ 3 or JAVA.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless