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Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910 used an odd taste of contact Symbian and wished to do all of it


After gaining a beachhead within the 80s, private computer systems invaded properties en masse within the 90s. Then within the 2000s smartphones had been making an attempt to do the identical to folks’s pockets. By that point folks had gotten used to doc editors, spreadsheets, electronic mail and net shopping. Characteristic telephones weren’t nice at that – for instance, the well-known Nokia 3310 (which got here out in late 2000) might do none of that.

However quickly a brand new breed of telephones appeared, telephones that had been like mini laptops. We have talked concerning the Nokia Communicator earlier than, as we speak we are going to concentrate on the Sony Ericsson P910. The third mannequin within the sequence, it arrived in 2004 (after the P900 in 2003 and P800 in 2002) and it might do all the things on the listing. It ran Symbian with a entrance finish which may be unfamiliar to a few of you – UIQ, aka Person Interface Quartz.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910 used an odd flavor of touch Symbian and wanted to do it all

This was lengthy earlier than Nokia’s Collection 60 made the ill-fated swap to the touch UI, its actual rival on the time had been Pocket PCs operating Home windows Cellular. The system supported a touchscreen and will multitask, and it made putting in apps a breeze. And there have been fairly a couple of apps, despite the fact that with out an apps retailer discovering them wasn’t that simple.

Okay, sufficient prologue – now that we have now such an all-capable gadget in our palms, let’s attempt to do all the things with it and see the way it goes.

Can we use the P910 to kind up a overview of itself? It has a {hardware} QWERTY keyboard in spite of everything! This was one of many main upgrades over the P900 – the within of the flip out has a 3 row QWERTY keyboard.

Nevertheless, the telephone measures solely 58 mm vast (and the keyboard itself is narrower than that), so the keys are fairly cramped. And there is not any autocomplete and even spellchecking to hurry issues alongside. An even bigger fear is that this can be a bodily keyboard, so it’s important to press on the keys (not simply contact them) and after some time we began to get frightened that we’ll snap off the skinny, plastic flip-out that holds the keyboard.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910 used an odd flavor of touch Symbian and wanted to do it all

Nonetheless, after some apply, we might kind at an honest pace. Definitely quicker than we will handle on the keypad, which lacks T9 or related system for quicker typing. Another is to make use of the touchscreen and stylus, which do Graffiti-like textual content recognition. Possibly we would have liked extra endurance to study, however in our (admittedly quick) expertise, the popularity is extra miss than hit. It’s a must to be very exact, in any other case making an attempt to put in writing an “o” may lead to an “O” or a “u”.

Even so, when you depend on fixed text-based communication – be it SMS or electronic mail – the P910 is a succesful communicator (if not fairly nearly as good as a sure Finnish telephone, which has a a lot bigger keyboard).

There’s an on-screen keypad too, which turns into an on-screen QWERTY in a textual content editor. Nevertheless, the small show and imprecise nature of the resistive touchscreen virtually imply we had been restricted to pecking out particular person letters with the stylus. Two thumb typing is a no go. At the least you need to use this when you select to take away the flip and use the P910 as a purely touch-driven telephone.


Trying to type a review on the Sony Ericsson P910 - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Trying to type a review on the Sony Ericsson P910 - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Trying to type a review on the Sony Ericsson P910 - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

Making an attempt to kind a overview on the Sony Ericsson P910

Okay, new plan – that is a sophisticated smartphone with innovative Bluetooth connectivity. Properly, innovative for the early 2000s. We are able to join a Bluetooth keyboard and use that to kind on the roomy 2.9″ show. Oh, the telephone does not acknowledge the keyboard in any respect.

Alright, that is not going to work. Whereas we consider what to attempt subsequent, we’ll play a fast sport of solitaire. Have you ever heard the story of how Solitaire got here bundled with Home windows so that individuals can have a enjoyable option to apply utilizing the mouse? Early residence computer systems operated with textual content instructions, however wide-spread adoption would solely include the arrival of the graphical person interface (which is hard to make use of with solely a keyboard).

The stylus is the smartphone model of a mouse. It’s quicker and extra exact than utilizing a D-pad to focus on an merchandise. And it lets you drag stuff, like within the Chess sport, for instance. A touchscreen and stylus make navigating advanced menu and a number of shortcuts simpler.


Solitaire wouldn't really work without a stylus - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Chess would be tricky too - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Chess would be tricky too - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Chess would be tricky too - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

Solitaire would not actually work and not using a stylus • Chess can be difficult too

However the stylus could be very restricted in its mouse duties – it is sort of a single button mouse with no scroll wheel. Which means that scrolling is completed utilizing the scrollbar on the aspect or tapping the up/down buttons within the nook.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910 used an odd flavor of touch Symbian and wanted to do it all

The Jog Dial, carried over from early Sony telephones, is a greater manner. It’s the lacking scroll wheel and might even be clicked to activate the chosen merchandise. The dial on our unit has gone just a little wonky in spite of everything these years, however it’s nonetheless a really handy option to function the person interface with out touching the display.

Whereas the two.9″ show is sufficiently small that one can simply attain all 4 corners, one-handed operation is not good due to how the UI is constructed. Utilizing the Jog Dial and a few keypad shortcuts is the higher choice when you’ve got just one hand to spare.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910 used an odd flavor of touch Symbian and wanted to do it all

Funnily sufficient, the Sony Ericsson P910 suffers from a difficulty that faces the primary foldable telephones – what ought to an app do when the display measurement all of a sudden adjustments? On this case since you opened or closed the flip keyboard.

Some apps have separate UIs for each instances, nevertheless most don’t. Which means that while you go to launch an app with the flip closed – utilizing the Jog Dial, after all – just some apps can be found. Actually, the contact performance of the show is disabled utterly when the flip is closed.


Jog Dial menu - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Available apps in closed flip mode - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Music player (with flip opened/closed) - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Music player (with flip opened/closed) - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

Jog Dial menu • Out there apps in closed flip mode • Music participant (with flip opened/closed)

Observe: the black space is roofed by the flip.

This makes the P910 really feel like two telephones in a single – a basic keypad-driven Symbian smartphone and a touch-driven smartphone that has a whole lot of tough edges.

For one, the Symbian 7.0 OS that’s on the coronary heart of the telephone is not nice at multitasking. You may put 5 shortcuts on the highest row and use them to change between these 5 apps simply sufficient.

But, for all the remaining it’s important to undergo the app drawer. By default, it’s a listing with a small font designed for use with the stylus. You may swap to a mode with 2×3 icon grid, which is much more finger-friendly, however these damned up/down buttons within the nook stay tiny and barely usable when you handle to hit them together with your fingernail.


The list mode is so tiny that you need the stylus - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
The grid view is more thumb friendly - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
The grid view is more thumb friendly - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

The listing mode is so tiny that you simply want the stylus • The grid view is extra thumb pleasant

There are some icons on the underside row that let you toggle some telephone controls with out leaving the at the moment energetic app. It isn’t fairly a notification space, however it’s a precursor. And there are sort-of fast toggles in right here too.

These controls (just like the shortcuts on the highest row) are once more quite tiny and hart to hit with a finger. This is not a narrative concerning the iOS, however the clunky Symbian UIQ interface made us admire simply how well-designed iOS was for finger-only operation.


Some basic phone features can be accessed without leaving the app - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Some basic phone features can be accessed without leaving the app - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Some basic phone features can be accessed without leaving the app - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

Some primary telephone options may be accessed with out leaving the app

Anyway, how about we play some tunes? The P910 has 64MB of inside reminiscence and a 32MB MemoryStick Duo included. That is one of many upgrades over the P900, which had solely 16MB inside storage (and the identical reminiscence card).

The telephone supported MP3 playback, although the annoying proprietary port restricted the number of headphones you need to use. The Jog Dial is available in once more, this time used to vary the amount. The telephone may also play MP4 movies, which labored effectively sufficient on the 4.6:9 show (keep in mind, this was again in 2004, so wide-screen adoption was solely simply beginning).

The 208 x 320 px decision does not make for the sharpest picture, but it surely’s advantageous contemplating the restricted storage obtainable (even in case you are keen to spend further the MemoryStick Duo format topped out at 128MB). Whereas Sony had a big music studio, managing the multimedia on the telephone was left to the person – there was no iTunes various.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910 used an odd flavor of touch Symbian and wanted to do it all

The Sony Ericsson P800 got here with a VGA digicam, that’s 640 x 480 px decision or about one third of a megapixel. This identical digicam module was used within the P900 and P910. Being practically twenty years outdated at this level we did not anticipate a lot and that’s what we bought.

The digicam is supposed for use in portrait orientation and there is a devoted button on the aspect. Press it as soon as to launch the digicam app and once more to take a photograph. Or you need to use the on-screen controls.

The digicam has a number of modes (Auto, Outside, Indoors, and so forth.) plus presets for capturing photographs and movies for MMS. Since MMS messages are restricted to simply a number of tens of kilobytes, the photographs and movies should be smaller.


The camera app works with the flip opened and closed - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
The camera app works with the flip opened and closed - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
The camera app works with the flip opened and closed - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

The digicam app works with the flip opened and closed

One situation we had is that the display is quite dim and its plastic contact layer quite reflective. That made it arduous to border outdoors pictures. Additionally, the viewfinder takes up solely a small a part of the display, even when the flip is opened.

Anyway, listed below are the digicam samples we took, jutst handle your expectations earlier than clicking.





Sony Ericsson P910 camera samples - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Sony Ericsson P910 camera samples - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

Sony Ericsson P910 digicam samples

Moreover the devoted digicam key (which is a straightforward button, no half press, when you had been questioning) is a customized button. You may set it to launch an app of your selecting, which is kind of useful.

Possibly we do a little analysis on the Web, we thought. Making an attempt to try this on the telephone, we shortly bumped into a difficulty. The Sony Ericsson P910 (and former fashions) is a 2G-only telephone. And even when you nonetheless have 2G service in your space, there’s a bigger situation – most websites have moved to serving pages over HTTPS for safety, however the P910 simply could not deal with the newer protocols. We solely managed to connect with a handful of internet sites and the GPRS connection felt excruciatingly sluggish, taking as much as 30 seconds to load even comparatively easy pages.


Browsing over GPRS is slow - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Only some sites work - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Have you heard of this new show? - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910
Have you heard of this new show? - Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910

Looking over GPRS is sluggish • Just some websites work • Have you ever heard of this new present?

In its heyday the Sony Ericsson P910 was a Swiss military knife – it had instruments for messaging, workplace work, net shopping, pictures and the factor that makes smartphones higher than function telephones, the flexibility to simply add new instruments by putting in apps.

It’s actually displaying its age in 2021, however to be honest the Web was a digital Wild West within the early days and digital cameras improved by leaps and bounds early on. This makes the P910 really feel older than it’s.

And it’s outdated, having come out in 2004 it’s virtually sufficiently old to vote now. Alas, it’s much less a younger’un and extra a veteran of a misplaced battle – all its Symbian compatriots are gone, particularly the UIQ squad.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson P910 used an odd flavor of touch Symbian and wanted to do it all

The {hardware} is impressively succesful for its age, its software program is admittedly of its period. The graphical fashion with the grayish pseudo 3D components and tiny icons hit us with a dose of CRT-tinted nostalgia.

It is simple to criticize the UI now, however getting a person interface proper is a momentous activity. Over three a long time later Microsoft remains to be twiddling with the idea. And it was fascinating to see the glimpses of OSes but to come back – smartphones have gone a good distance and the P910 is a milestone alongside the best way.

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