Sony Ericsson T650

The release of the Sony Ericsson T650 signifies two things: first, the revival of the T series, and secondly, an indication of the company's first step into the fashion world. By definition the T650 is built for anesthetic viewing pleasure, not simply for the music or the camera. It is considered to be a mid-range phone that reconciles size, function, and fashion. Today we will see if it can really make you look good, or if the user will be left feeling like a fashion victim.

From the color to the overall design, it is obvious that Sony Ericsson is trying to be different. The green is a Growing Green we have never seen on a phone before, and that Midnight Blue is pretty much the darkest blue in the market. However, with all that we cannot help but relate this model to their bestselling T610 from some four years ago. The most striking feature at first glance is perhaps the brushed metallic housing that frames the screen. The metal also extends around the back, making the design more consistent. The camera, along with its LED flash, can be found on the back of the phone. It is a bit worrying that the camera actually protrudes a bit out from the body, making it prone to scratching.

The d-pad controller and the number keys are square in shape, whereas the two softkeys are constructed from metal plates that match the metal parts of the T650's cover. Conversely the back and cancel buttons, along with the adjacent shortcut keys, are blended into the more plastic casing material that constitutes to the lower half of the phone. Fortunately the plastic has a matte texture, something that not only improves that hand's grip on it, but keeps it from looking cheap.

Unsurprisingly the power button is on the top of the device and the camera shutter key and volume keys are on the side, with the power port being found on the other side. All that remains is a lanyard hole on the bottom of the phone. The Memory Stick Micro (M2) slot is actually hidden underneath the battery cover, which is released by a new spring mechanism that feels very sturdy. We were relieved to find that the memory card slot is still on the side, and it does not require you to pull out the battery to swap cards.

The T650 is far from the thinnest candybar phone in the world, but at 12.5mm and packing all those features, few should find cause to complain. The overall size is well controlled at 104mm x 46mm x 12.5mm (4.1" x 1.8" x .5"), and the weight is 95g (3.3oz), making it just slightly lighter than the K750.

So far there is nothing spectacular with the design, but that all changes when you dim the lights. Then the magic begins. The T650i is the first Sony Ericsson phone with keypad illumination effects; not only does it blink, but the light actually follows and synchronizes with the animated wallpapers. For example, if some bubbles are moving down the display's wallpaper, then there will also be streaks of light moving down the keypad. However one would have to accept that the backlight is not too evenly distributed when moving; it is also a pity that these light effects cannot be customized.

Light effects are not only found on the front of the T650, but also visible on the back as a message indicator. When there is a new message, a band of golden yellow light will blaze through the junction of the metallic plate and the plastic, making it look brilliant even from afar. As opposed to the Nokia 6300, this indicator is only used for new messages but not missed calls. It only blinks for a couple of seconds when the message first arrives and stops completely after that. By comparison, the Nokia 6300 continues to flash the new message indicator until the user acknowledges it; this is something I would really like to see Sony Ericsson implement in the future.