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

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After gaining a beachhead within the 80s, private computer systems invaded houses en masse within the 90s. Then within the 2000s smartphones had been attempting to do the identical to individuals’s pockets. By that point individuals had gotten used to doc editors, spreadsheets, e-mail and internet searching. Function 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, immediately 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 checklist. 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 Cell. 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’ve such an all-capable machine 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 evaluation 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.

Nonetheless, the cellphone measures solely 58 mm large (and the keyboard itself is narrower than that), so the keys are fairly cramped. And there isn’t any autocomplete and even spellchecking to hurry issues alongside. A much bigger fear is that this can be a bodily keyboard, so you must press on the keys (not simply contact them) and after some time we began to get apprehensive 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 observe, we might kind at a good velocity. Actually 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. Perhaps we wanted extra persistence 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 attempting to jot down an “o” may end in an “O” or a “u”.

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

There may be an on-screen keypad too, which turns into an on-screen QWERTY in a textual content editor. Nonetheless, 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 should use this should you select to take away the flip and use the P910 as a purely touch-driven cellphone.


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 evaluation on the Sony Ericsson P910

Okay, new plan – that is a complicated smartphone with leading edge Bluetooth connectivity. Properly, leading edge 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 cellphone would not acknowledge the keyboard in any respect.

Alright, that is not going to work. Whereas we consider what to strive subsequent, we’ll play a fast recreation of solitaire. Have you ever heard the story of how Solitaire got here bundled with Home windows so that folks could have a enjoyable method to observe utilizing the mouse? Early house computer systems operated with textual content instructions, however wide-spread adoption would solely include the arrival of the graphical consumer 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 spotlight an merchandise. And it lets you drag stuff, like within the Chess recreation, for instance. A touchscreen and stylus make navigating complicated 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 with out a stylus • Chess can be tough 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 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 approach. It’s the lacking scroll wheel and may even be clicked to activate the chosen merchandise. The dial on our unit has gone a bit of wonky in spite of everything these years, however it’s nonetheless a really handy method to function the consumer interface with out touching the display screen.

Whereas the two.9″ show is sufficiently small that one can simply attain all 4 corners, one-handed operation is not excellent due to how the UI is constructed. Utilizing the Jog Dial and a few keypad shortcuts is the higher choice when you’ve gotten 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 problem that faces the primary foldable telephones – what ought to an app do when the display screen measurement abruptly modifications? On this case since you opened or closed the flip keyboard.

Some apps have separate UIs for each circumstances, nonetheless most don’t. Which means once you go to launch an app with the flip closed – utilizing the Jog Dial, in fact – just some apps can be found. In reality, the contact performance of the show is disabled fully 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 • Obtainable apps in closed flip mode • Music participant (with flip opened/closed)

Notice: 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 variety of tough edges.

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

But, for all the remaining you must undergo the app drawer. By default, it’s a checklist with a small font designed for use with the stylus. You’ll be able to 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 should 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 checklist mode is so tiny that you just want the stylus • The grid view is extra thumb pleasant

There are some icons on the underside row that mean you can toggle some cellphone controls with out leaving the at present lively app. It is not 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 somewhat 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 cellphone options could 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 cellphone supported MP3 playback, although the annoying proprietary port restricted the choice of headphones you should use. The Jog Dial is available in once more, this time used to vary the amount. The cellphone can even play MP4 movies, which labored effectively sufficient on the 4.6:9 show (bear in mind, this was again in 2004, so wide-screen adoption was solely simply beginning).

The 208 x 320 px decision would not make for the sharpest picture, nevertheless it’s high quality contemplating the restricted storage out there (even if you’re prepared to spend further the MemoryStick Duo format topped out at 128MB). Whereas Sony had a big music studio, managing the multimedia on the cellphone was left to the consumer – there was no iTunes different.

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 almost twenty years outdated at this level we did not count on 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 should use the on-screen controls.

The digicam has a number of modes (Auto, Outside, Indoors, and so on.) plus presets for capturing pictures and movies for MMS. Since MMS messages are restricted to simply a number of tens of kilobytes, the pictures 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 subject we had is that the display screen is somewhat dim and its plastic contact layer somewhat reflective. That made it exhausting to border outdoors pictures. Additionally, the viewfinder takes up solely a small a part of the display screen, even when the flip is opened.

Anyway, listed here 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

In addition to the devoted digicam key (which is an easy button, no half press, should you had been questioning) is a customized button. You’ll be able to set it to launch an app of your selecting, which is sort of helpful.

Perhaps we perform some research on the Web, we thought. Making an attempt to do this on the cellphone, we rapidly bumped into a problem. The Sony Ericsson P910 (and former fashions) is a 2G-only cellphone. And even should you nonetheless have 2G service in your space, there’s a bigger subject – 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

Shopping 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, internet searching, images and the factor that makes smartphones higher than function telephones, the flexibility to simply add new instruments by putting in apps.

It’s actually exhibiting 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 nearly 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 basically of its period. The graphical type with the grayish pseudo 3D parts and tiny icons hit us with a dose of CRT-tinted nostalgia.

It is easy to criticize the UI now, however getting a consumer interface proper is a momentous process. Over three a long time later Microsoft continues to be fidgeting with the idea. And it was fascinating to see the glimpses of OSes but to return – smartphones have gone a good distance and the P910 is a milestone alongside the best way.

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