Sony Ericsson – C903 review

good all-round slider phone with GPS
Photo of Sony Ericsson – C903
£free (depending on contract)

Sony Ericsson’s C903 is a slightly less well featured handset than the top-end C905. Both are sliders, and the C903 is slightly smaller and a fair bit lighter. At 96g and 97mm tall, 49mm wide and 16mm thick, the C903 is no bother to pocket or to hold.

Sony Ericsson knows how to build a handset that feels good, and the slide mechanism here is smooth with a good clunking sound when opened and closed. Ergonomics of use aren’t always Sony Ericsson’s strong point, but this time they are spot-on.

The navigation button is a large square block, raised from its surround so it is easy to hit. Call and End buttons are also large and again raised, as are the softmenu buttons. The Clear and Activity buttons are flat but big, so easy to find accurately. Open the slide and the flat number pad benefits from domed keys.

There’s nothing remarkable about the 2.4-inch, 240 x 320-pixel screen, except to note that it is up to Sony Ericsson’s usual high standard. Sharp, bright and clear, we’ve no complaints.

GPS is built in and this can be used to geotag photos. There are several other applications that take advantage of the GPS including Near Me which finds things like cashpoints, chemists and petrol stations that are close to your current location, and Wayfinder which is a point to point navigation system.

There is also a useful tool called Tracker, which can tell you how far you’ve gone, show a route (though it is just an outline and not overlaid onto a map), and tell you how long you’ve taken. It is a useful if limited tool for anyone into running. And there is Google Maps too.

The C903 supports HSDPA, but there’s no front camera for two-way video calling. Nor is there Wi-Fi, which many will see as an omission on any handset aiming for a target above the mid-range these days.

The phone supports TV-Out, so you can send the contents of the screen to a television set, but the required lead is not supplied, so if you want this feature you’ll need to buy the lead as an accessory.

The accelerometer is welcome, though it doesn’t function in all applications. Two places in which it can be used are picture viewing and Web browsing. In both cases the sensor is responsive and the screen swivels quickly.

Music playback is of good quality, though we aren’t fans of the large, proprietary headset connector that Sony Ericsson insists on using. Non-stop the handset managed just over eight and a half hours of playback from a full battery charge. Sony Ericsson quotes ten hours of talk and 400 hours of standby, and we got through two days of use easily without a mains power charge. There is 130MB of built-in memory and a Memory Stick Micro slot under the back cover for adding more storage.

The camera lens sits under a seriously large cover on the back of the handset. You need to slide this down to reveal both the lens and a dual LED flash. Camera features map to the number buttons so if you remember which button does what then you can whiz around the settings.

Sony Ericsson’s BestPic is among the features, and at 5-megapixels the camera meets what we’d say is the optimum specification for a phone. You really don’t need all those extra megapixels that some (including Sony Ericsson) are cramming into their higher end handsets at the moment.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Contact: 08705 238 238

The ergonomics of use are good, the 5-megapixel camera all you really need from a phone and the battery life perfectly acceptable. Without Wi-Fi the C903 is a bit short-changed, but nonetheless this is a good all rounder.