Ericsson T68i

  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent

Pros

  • Super-compact
  • colour screen
  • impressive battery life and call quality
  • built-in Bluetooth
  • GPRS enabled.

Cons

  • Small keys.

Sony Ericsson's T68i is nearly identical to its T68 predecessor, but it has a few new features, including more memory for storing digital images, support for MMS (multimedia messaging) and an embedded emergency locator, all of which make this super-compact, feature-rich world phone a good buy.

The T68i bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nokia’s popular 8200-series phones -- until you get a glimpse of the bright and easy-to-view, five-line 256-colour screen. The T68i, like Nokia’s phone, has tiny keys that may irk those with larger fingers, but it has something the 8200-series doesn't: a very useful joystick-like navigational button. However, it's a bit sensitive, so keep it away from other objects in your pockets.

Sony Ericsson has enhanced the original T68's design; the phone is light blue and silver instead of Ziroccan Gold or Lunar Gray, and the earpiece looks slightly different. Otherwise, the cosmetics are identical. Those not familiar with Sony Ericsson's menu system face a bit of a learning curve. Also, fans of flip phones may not like the way the phone hits your face, with the microphone far from your mouth. However, on the plus side, the T68i retains one design element found on previous Ericsson models: a button on the top left that, when pressed, displays the precise amount of remaining standby and talk time.

Along with Bluetooth and infrared connectivity, you can add screensavers, backgrounds, 100 by 80-pixel GIFs, and as many ring tones (30 are already on-board) as the phone's 1MB of storage capacity can hold. Download Ericsson's free ExtndConnect software and the T68i can synchronise with your Microsoft Outlook calendar info and up to 500 contacts via infrared or Bluetooth. If your computer doesn't have wireless connectivity, you can buy an optional serial or USB cable. A Bluetooth headset is also available.

The CommuniCam MCA-20 digital camera accessory, which clips on to the bottom of the phone, lets you take and wirelessly email low-resolution digital images to friends. You can also associate portraits with contacts in your phone book by programming the person's face to appear on your screen when he or she calls. We tested the digital camera and found it easy to use and to set up, but don't expect high-quality images.

Since the T68i works on GPRS and all flavours of GSM networks, it's considered a world phone. It also supports SMS and EMS (enhanced messaging service), as well as MMS. Included with the phone are icons and rudimentary graphics that can be sent to other EMS-enabled phones. We were also impressed with the T68i's voice-recognition features, which allow you to dial contacts by saying the person's name as well as answer your phone and navigate menus using voice commands.

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With any colour-screen phone, the first concern is battery life. We're happy to report that the T68i doesn't suffer in this department, but to conserve power you'll want the phone to be in sleep mode whenever you're not using it. And to reserve even more juice, you can set the screen to be a black-and-white display.

We managed to eke out 5.5 hours of talk time and almost 6 days of standby time. Although Sony Ericsson's claims are higher (13 hours of talk time and 12 days standby), the real-world battery-life numbers are impressive -- particularly when you consider the colour screen. Even better, the phone comes with a compact charger.

As with the T68, the T68i's call quality is quite good, and we also able to get a fairly strong signal in most areas in our tests. Callers said they had no problem hearing us and vice versa.

We were also able to connect the T68i to a Bluetooth-equipped Pocket PC and surf the Internet wirelessly at speeds of around 30Kbps via a GPRS network. We were able to use Sony Ericsson's latest Bluetooth headset with the phone, and could easily make calls. However, we were unable to connect to a first-generation Bluetooth headset.

In the final analysis, although the T68i may not be the easiest phone to use, the combination of slick cosmetics, features, good battery life and a reasonable price (around £150 through Vodafone and other GSM carriers), make this phone one of the most attractive midrange-priced mobiles.

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