When the P990i worked smoothly, which it did for a few minutes at a time, it was possible to see the power of the platform. For example, I have a POP3 mail account with several thousand messages. Fast retrievals are taxing for 3G feature phones and even slow on Nokia's default Symbian messaging client. The P990i simply chomped through the job without breaking sweat. Opera also ripped through websites - although the font rendering, and UIQ's inefficient use of screen space didn't do it any favours.
Where's that option again?
The screen shots show how little information can be conveyed within these constraints. Fonts below 100pc don't render well at all.
As with the Palm, UIQ applications generally don't have an exit ot quit option. We didn't encounter the low-memory warnings which plagued our use of the Nokia E70 and N80, and which was widely reported with the very first production batches.
It wasn't possible to give an accurate estimate of the P990i's battery life. The WLAN radio has a power-saving feature - which reportedly causes connections to drop, although we experienced no such problems - but the need to manually disconnect did run the battery down remarkably quickly.
In summary, it's easy to envisage continuing performance tweaks - particularly if Sony Ericsson takes the step of disabling the "transition" gimmicks. Sony Ericsson allows you to perform self-service firmware upgrades from your PC - and in the early days of a phone's life these come thick and fast.
When things work well, the P990i's size ceases to be an issue. You may even get the sense that this is a small and very convenient mobile computer, rather than a large phone. However given the reliability of the phone at this stage, it's hard to recommend unless you're doing a platform evaluation.
It's hard to give a numerical rating for a phone which has so much potential, and yet has so many urgent reliability issues. For packing such a lot of functionality into a small and convenient handheld, the P990i really ought to earn a score in the 90s. In terms of practical use today, it shouldn't merit any higher than a score in the 20s.
What complicates scoring further is the certainty that many of these bugs are elementary to fix, and will hopefully disappear in the coming weeks given Sony Ericsson's historical commitment to getting its flagship product right. That's not something that can be said for its new rivals, the anonymous Asian manufacturers who are pumping out generic Windows Mobile devices at a furious clip. Such vendors often appear more concerned with the model that will be appearing over the horizon, rather than fixing one that's just been released - and they don't have a brand to tarnish.
Over on Esato, the buggy and long overdue appearance of the P990i has even prompted discussion of whether the P-series has a future at all - and this on a site historically sympathetic to Sony Ericsson. The argument is rational. A design which once set out to synthesize the best of two worlds has evolved into something that risks pleasing no one - a jack-of-all-trades.
It's the culmination of design by committee: along the way, hard choices have been avoided which would have helped the P990i retain some coherence - the user interface in UIQ 3.0 becoming increasingly 'Japanified'. And there's certainly merit to Sony Ericsson's decision to adopt a new chassis and create slight variants for each target market - as it has with the M600i and W950 Walkman UIQ phones. Each is a variation of essentially the same design, differentiated by the keyboard and amount of on-board memory.
However, this strategy will leave the power user, who for example wants a good camera and music player as well as a powerful messaging device, high and dry. Both Sony Ericsson and Symbian's UIQ division should by now know what it takes to restore the reputation of the P-series. ®
Lots wrong in this review.
Yes, I missed the jog-dial stuff a bit. But now I'm used to this new phone. But other things about this review are plain wrong: crashing adding a contact and opening the flip? Not me. Speaker phone? Press the middle key twice. It's the "More" key and it's the top option. No mention of the landscape mode in the browser! And the ability to turn off fit-to-screen. Pretty basic omissions I reckon.
Perhaps I'm just lucky and I've got one that works, or maybe the review was more interested in volume and weight ratios than actually reviewing it properly.
Sony Ericsson Update Service
To reply to the above comment SE have updated there update service software to version 1.2.15 it now incorporates the firmaware upgrade service.
On reading the thoughts and views on the my-symbian site, the new version is an improvement.
However there is still some way to go with regard to all the issues with the P990 ram management being the most importiant.
Though I am not concerned , because with good 3rd party software ram control many apps can be run at the same time.
Not withstanding Nokia who in arecent firmware upgrade to an N series phone improved ram management by 3/5 ram.
Future firmware updates
Have users actually been able to update their P990 firmware using S.E's cranky software, and is it now a straightforward user experience? I've been unsuccessful with upgrading my P910i to newer firmware ever since I bought it as an 'early adopter' - I still try every so often but it's too damn tricksy, and eventually give up.
I'd like a review of 'the other half' of P990 ownership - P.C. side. How well does the new S.E. updating software work, how many third party app's does S.E. install on your HD and where, how many irritating .Net Passport style hoops one has to sign up to just to fix your glitchy firmware, and how easy it is to control and remove the clunky icons that SE insist on splattering all over your nice minimalist Desktop, Systray, Startup, Logon etc., before parting with a week's wages.
S.E. haven't yet contacted me to say the P990 is available, so (ruling out sheer incompetence) perhaps numerous glitch fixes are impending. Is S.E.'s updating software up to the job, or is it not?
Some context here is important. Sony Ericsson considers this phone acceptable for sale to the general public - but won't release one for examination by journalists for professional review.
By all means use the comments here to vent your spleens, or declare your love for your favourite vendor. But we have a duty to convey accurate information on the site - so malicious and misleading comments will be removed.
I have to say on reading this reviewers comments on the impending release of the P990, as I for one am still waiting for my P990.
There are in my opinion to camps those who love viq, symbian sony ect and those who want a business devise.
I fall in to both camps and without much of the tech know how, however Sony Ericsson do one thing right as being a previous P800 and P900 owner.
They respond very quickly to the issues that are raised by the owners so much so that there have already been 2 firmware updates improving the phone no end.
My opinion is that the P990 is the best alround smartphone and to learn more about the phone a visit to http://my-symbian.com/ is a very good starting place