Sony Ericsson C905 – the PS3 phone
Read on to discover why, if you’re a PS3 owner, you might want to consider getting your hands on one of these 8 megapixel superphones. Since you’re all nice people, we’ll even reveal some new features that are coming soon to the C905.
After unboxing the C905 you realise that this is certainly a phone that has an awful lot to offer.
With an 8 megapixel camera, full xenon flash, 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, FM radio, motion/aspect sensor, TV-out support, slide-out numeric pad and 160Mb on board (a 2 GB card comes with the phone also) it has more features than you can shake a stick at.
Of course, this means that the C905 is certainly a lot thicker and bigger than its 5 megapixel younger brother, the C902. Does this matter? Since I own and use a C902 as my regular phone, I can tell you that the answer is an emphatic ‘no’. The screen on the C905 is a little larger (2.4 inches) and the extra weight and thickness actually make me less nervous about holding it than I currently feel when using my super-slim C902.
In relative terms, the C905 is about the same size as the K850. Considering it has an additional 5 megapixels, Wi-Fi and GPS it is quite impressive that the phone is a similar size to that particular model.
If you already use a Sony Ericsson C or K series phone, the C905 will immediately feel very natural to you. The menu system is the usual SE setup with a grid of nine boxes that will take you to the important options, such as your contacts, applications, settings, media and messaging. What will be a welcome relief, however, is the firmware seems to have been improved massively.
The K850, for example, was a disaster when it came to random resetting and phone-bricking bugs. The C902 is a big improvement over the K850, but still has its moments (thankfully minor). In two weeks of constant testing on the C905 and throwing everything at it (technologically speaking) it didn’t falter once.
My only gripe with the phone is the keypad. The keys themselves aren’t the problem – they are much larger and easier to use than some of the other recent SE phones – but the top row of keys ‘click’ every now and then resulting in a slightly ‘plasticy’ feel. It’s as if the C905 is saying ‘I think I’m a ZX-81’. The rest of the keys seem fine and the phone appears to be robust and well made, so it is a problem I learned to live with over the review period.
Before we get to the PS3 integration feature, here is a quick summary of some of the things we did with the phone’s other built-in hardware and software.
The C905 boasts both full GPS and aGPS positioning. Unlike the C902 and other SE phones that require an additional ‘GPS enabler’ headset to be purchased, the C905 is ready to go straight out of the box. Cold start times are reasonable but not fast, but once the GPS has warmed up and gained a fix you can use software like Google Maps, the built in Wayfinder 7 and other location services with ease.
We used it to calculate a route with Google Maps using the new ‘pedestrian route’ features Google added recently and it tracked our location and guided us to the destination perfectly. Wayfinder is good enough to act as a basic car GPS system with turn-by-turn directions, but will never worry the likes of TomTom or Garmin. However, if you don’t have a car GPS system the C905 could well save you a few hundred of your local currency!
By far the biggest boon with this phone is the built-in Wi-Fi. I tested the phone on Hutchinson’s 3 network and my current plan includes 1 GB of data per month via 3G and HSDPA. Whilst this is good, connecting the phone via Wi-Fi to my (or any other) router and surfing the ‘net at ‘full’ speed makes a huge difference to getting and reacting to email, IM and social network notifications.
When you switch Wi-Fi on, the phone discovers (very quickly) all the available networks within reach. You simply click to connect and enter your passcode if you need to. If a Wi-Fi connection is present and active, the phone automatically chooses that method of Internet access. If not, it reverts to 2G, 3G or HSDPA depending on your current network coverage and location.
Sony Ericsson’s cameras have long garnered great reviews, and the C905 takes them to a whole new level. The proper flash is back this time (it appeared on the K850 but didn’t make it into the C902) which makes a difference, but the quality of the 8 megapixel camera is just outstanding.
Of course, you don’t ‘really’ need 8 megapixels unless you are planning to print your pictures A0 size, but it is good to know that you could do that if you wanted to! Access to the camera is simple – you just slide down the lens cover and the phone switches into shot mode. A button on the ‘top’ of the phone (when you hold it like a camera) switches it between photo and video modes, and the camera features face recognition and a whole host of photo modes for every occasion.
The battery on this phone gets a hammering if you switch everything on and leave it running. Sure, if you have GPS and Wi-Fi on and you are accessing the ‘net through something like Google Maps or the included NearMe location software (finds local services like restaurants etc.) you will notice that the battery will need to be topped up before the end of the day.
If you do a little battery management, such as switching off Wi-Fi when you don’t need it, the battery is good for a whole day and most of the second day before it needs a charge.
Given you can charge the phone through a USB cable (choose ‘Phone Mode’ if connected to a PC; ‘Mass Storage’ if connected to a PS3) or via a car charger option – in addition to the usual supplied socket charges – it isn’t hard to make some kind of top-up through the day to avoid any concern.
So, how does this phone – unlike any before it – integrate with the PS3 and what does that mean for you?
When you switch the Wi-Fi on and connect the phone to your home router (the same router that you connect your PS3 to), you can go into the Advanced options and switch on Network Sharing.
Network Sharing turns your C905 into a Media Server with full DLNA support. Here’s the process:
- Connect the phone to your local router
- Select the connection on the phone and choose Options…Advanced
- Select Network Sharing and switch on
- Start your PS3
- If you haven’t already, enable Media Server in the Settings on the XMB
- Now, if you go to your Photo, Music or Video XMB option you can search for Media Servers. The PS3 will find your phone and allow you wireless access to the content.
It really is a very easy process, and it works well.
Currently the PS3 supports access to the phone’s photos and music. You can view/play the items on your phone wirelessly and copy them to the PS3 without having to connect any cables or having to remove your memory stick.
We asked Sony Ericsson about the lack of video support and they told us this:
After speaking with some of the Sony Product Team who look after audio and visual, they advised me that the video streaming over the air is something that Sony do not currently support and will however be available in the first half of this year.
With video streaming/copying support coming later in the year (either via a phone update or a PS3 firmware update) the C905 will really become the perfect partner for the PS3.
Given that previously, if you wanted to show your photos on-screen you would either have to use a PC, cables, swap memory sticks around or buy one of SE’s ‘media share’ modules for your TV, this really does free up your content for instant and immediate viewing and sharing via the PlayStation 3.
Of course, since this is DLNA, any device connected through your router can access your information, so you can also use the feature to wirelessly transfer photos to your PC or any other DLNA-compatible device.
The C905 isn’t stopping there though. We just got word that SE will be making a firmware update available in mid-February that adds new features to the phone.
Sony Ericsson’s Smile Shutter will make an appearance. It detects when your subjects are all smiling and takes the photo as soon as they all say ‘cheese’. In addition there will be an upgrade to Wayfinder 8, built-in YouTube support (upload your videos direct to your account), Snapfish by HP (order prints of your photos over the air without a PC) and conversation support (view your messages by conversation rather than chronologically).
All-in-all, if you don’t mind a slightly more substantial phone in your hands/pocket, the C905 is a real powerhouse that anyone – but PS3 owners especially – would be more than happy with (even if you get stuck with an 18-month contract!).