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First Take: Sony Ericsson P910i

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Sony Ericsson P910i
The slick P900 smart phone gets a QWERTY keyboard and a few noteworthy additions.

Sony Ericsson's latest Symbian OS-based smartphone is its most promising to date. The new P910 largely resembles its predecessor, the P900, in look and feel, yet it has some noteworthy extras under the surface, including a flip-down QWERTY keyboard, a rich 18-bit (262,144-colour) touch-screen display, multiple email options and more internal memory (upgraded from 16MB to 64MB). Priced similarly to the P900, the phone will be available in Q3 in three versions: the P910i world phone, the P910c for mainland China and the P910 for North and Latin America.

Many of the P900's most popular features are present, such as Bluetooth connectivity, a speakerphone and Symbian OS 7.0. As noted, the Sony Ericsson P910i adds another form of text input -- a flip-down QWERTY keyboard -- to its stealthy arsenal, which already includes T9 predictive text, a touch-screen keyboard and a handwriting program. It also incorporates options such as Smartner Duality Always-on Mail for corporate email support of Outlook and Lotus Notes, as well as One Bridge Mobile, Visto Mobile and Intellisync Mobile Suite.

There's not much this Sony Ericsson model doesn't have. But since the phone will be available in Q3, the company should have upgraded the VGA camera/video recorder, considering that new 1.3-megapixel camera phones are available now. And although the QWERTY keyboard is a welcome addition to the P910i, the sturdiness of the flip-down keypad may concern many users.

The Sony Ericsson P910i will be a sought-after mobile in the smartphone arena, and a worthy competitor to the larger and bulkier Treo 600.