Cyber-shot Contender 

Time and the technology behind the development of mobile phones do not stand still as can be seen with this next handset.
Sony Ericsson K850i mobile phone

Joining the ranks of mobile phones with a 5-megapixel camera is Sony Ericsson's K850i model.  This candy-bar style phone adopts the standard Sony Ericsson arrangement of having the camera taking over the rear of the unit with the front housing the telephony functionality.  However there are a couple of design aspects that might cause some initial confusion with the user.

Rather than inserting the SIM card and battery into the back of the device as is usually the case, the K850i accepts these two items into a compartment concealed at the base of the unit.  This compartment also houses any MemoryStick Micro or microSD card for storage purposes.  The second difference is the omission of an "OK" button.  With the K850i, you have to press the middle of three touch-screen buttons located at the base of the colour LCD screen.  This change took a little getting used to but eventually became second nature.

The three touch-button arrangement is used in conjunction with a raised four-way navigation device that is positioned around the 2 and 5 keys of the numeric keypad and, like the touch-screen buttons does take some adjustment on the part of the user especially as the up control is rather near to the touch-screen acceptance button.  Situated alongside the top of the navigation pad are silver coloured buttons covering call, end, clear and activity menu tasks. 

Running along the right side of the handset are controls to adjust volume/zoom level; switch between the camera modes of still, video and playback; activate or turn off the camera; and view captured content.  Aided by the Xenon flash and features such as BestPic (taking nine shots in a burst so you can select the best) and Photo Fix for making any adjustments to images, this Cyber-shot camera is capable of an impressive performance.  However, as with the LCD screen, the camera element can suffer from the "curse of fingerprints" if care is not taken when handling the unit.

Content is viewed on the handset's 262K TFT colour screen with built-in accelerometers which detect when the handset is being held in portrait or landscape mode.  The screen will then adjust accordingly.  Surprisingly this feature works slightly differently when used in camera or main phone mode for viewing images.  As part of the camera, the display will rotate in 90 degree increments, full circle whichever way you turn the handset.  However in phone mode this feature only works when you turn the handset towards the left and then for only 180 degrees.

The K850i is a 3G phone that can provide the user with the capability to access high speed data transfer at up to 384K per second.  With support for HSDPA (also known as 3.5G) technology, you could use this phone for surfing the Web; video calling; and as your email client.  Sony Ericsson claim that the K850i can be downloading content while you are simultaneously making a call but I have yet to test this multifunctional feature.  When not taking photos, surfing the Web or making calls, you can use the K850i to listen to music including FM radio; watch video clips; or play games such as Marble Madness 3D which, Wii-like, involves guiding a ball through a maze by moving the handset.

Supplied with a 512MB memory card, the K850i supports the usual array of telephonic and messaging features.  Included in the box are an ear-bud headset; power lead; USB linking cable; and software CD.  Battery life is around 9 hours for talk time or 400 hours on standby.  Depending upon the type of contract, the K850i could be free-of-charge while pay-as-you-go customers should expect to pay in the region of £350 for this mobile phone with its impressive 5-megapixel camera.

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