Sony Ericsson C510

With a classic design featuring Sony Ericsson’s latest software, the C510 is an affordable entry-level camera phone with its highlight features being its 3G capability and a 3.2-megapixel Cyber-shot camera.

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Available in three colours (future black, radiation silver, energetic red), the model you see here is the Future Black finish with its silver and blue trim. The overall dimensions give it a slim and lightweight feel but thanks to its blend of metals and plastics, the build feels solid and robust.

The keypad has good tactile feedback for easy texting, but the navigation and shortcut keys above the keypad are a tad cramped. The left and right soft keys and the shortcut and C key feel a bit shoe-horned because when you try to press them with your thumb you you sometimes hit the D-pad or the call/hangup button.

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A bright and clear 2.2-inch display offers vibrant colours in all lighting conditions. The 320 x 240 262k colour screen offers crisp photo viewing and because it’s slightly smaller than other comparable phones, packing in the pixels in a 2.2-inch area does give it a noticeably sharper display.

The camera lens is behind a lens protector which pops out and slides to reveal the camera and lens situated right at the edge of the phone. The positioning of the camera makes it awkward to hold if you tend to use both hands to take snaps in a landscape format as it’s right by the edge where your fingers sometimes get in the way.

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The C510 features a dual-LED automatic flash which can also be used as a light for the videocamera mode. You’ll find the set of new camera software included with the C510 such as smile detection and although there’s no GPS technology, the software can use the phone towers to triangulate your position for geo-tagging your photos. Dedicated shortcut keys light up in blue when you’re in camera mode which give you quick access to camera-related functions such as flash and focus settings.

I dug out some old snaps taken from my K800i and compared them to the C510 and found that although they’re both 3 Megapixel Cyber-shot camera phones, the old K800i produced better quality photos with and without the flash.

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For expanding the memory, there’s support for M2 Memory Stick Micro cards for up to 8GB of additional storage. Since this is an entry-level model, there’s no card included with the handset, so you’ll have to buy one if you think you’re going to exceed the 80-90MB of available memory. Thanks to falling prices and increased capacities, this isn’t much of an issue as you can pick up a 2GB card for about £7 or for another £3, double that to 4GB if you plan on carrying with you a selection of your music, photos and videos.

The excellent Media software has been included with the C510 software. I recently covered this in my video review of the C903 and because the C510 includes an accelerometer, you do get the auto-rotating feature of your media.

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Through my normal daily usage pattern, I was able to get by for two days before getting the battery warning alerts. This consisted of about two hours of phone calls and tens of text messages and occasionally loading up the camera capabilities for taking a few snaps and short video clips.

For what’s considered to be an entry-level camera phone, the fact that can be pick it up up for free on contract or for about £100 SIM-free the C510 represents very good value. The only element of this handset that doesn’t meet expectations is the slightly disappointing camera considering it’s branded as a Cyber-shot model. That’s not to say it doesn’t perform well enough for its price tag and offers just as good if not better picture reproduction in good lighting conditions as competing phones at the same price.

2009-09-07 Onwah Tsang

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