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First of all, a warning-I bought this phone in the knowledge that it had problems, but that they could be upgraded with regular firmware updates. So, far, i have updated it three times and i no longer suffer re-boots to free up memory, but i do enjoy kernal faults nearly everyday.
The kernal is at the heart of the phone, but it can be updated with the firmware update tool that you need to install onto your PC.
The spec of this phone is incredible, but it was announced a year ago and is now only just being released on the networks. The phone can be purchased from suppliers, but in the case of O2, the company has yet to officially release it due to the software issues.
If you want it on O2, just go to Dial-a-phone to order it, you will get a normal O2 contract, but the phone will come in a standard Sony box.
The phone is primarily a business phone and it supports PDF files, and has Excel and word editors built in.
Communications options are very good, with Wi-Fi, bluetooth, infrared, USB2.0, GPRS and 3G connectivity, but the new high speed 3.5G network is not supported. This is not too much of an issue for now, but in a few months, the networks should all support it with download speeds of upto 1.8meg. So it is best to only sign up for 12 months and then upgrade.
The camera on the phone is only 2mega pixels and it at first appears to be very complicated with all of the on screen options and the images appear blurred, but if you read the manual (a must for a phone like this!), then you will realise that it is auto focus and requires a light press of the shutter release to focus. You also need to keep an eye on the shutter speed. Some exposures can be very long.
The camera also has a business use, which is as a business card scanner. It sounds quirky, but it turns out to be quite useful. Just take a photo of a business card and with a couple of adjustments, it stores all of the contact details including live web-links.
I think alot of people are buying this phone thinking it is the best Sony Ericsson phone, which isn't quite correct. It is the flagship smartphone, but it is for business. You will not get the best camera, for that you need the K800i. For music, there are a range of options, i would personally choose the W950, but it has no camera. It does share the touchscreen of the P990i though.
The phone suffers from UIQ3.0 for the touchscreen. It just tries to do too much and does not make the best use of the screen. It is a piece of software that requires a total rethink and will undoubtably cost many sales.
The operating system is Symbian 9.1, which is the latest version, but is not backwards compatible. This means that owners of previous P series phones will need to copy everything and will be unable to use existing software. However, as this becomes more established, more software for business and personal use will become available for download.
The screen shares a problem common to PDA phones. 320x240 pixel count. This was good a year ago, but for a screen that measures 2.8", it means that the screen isn't as sharp as a similar count on a smaller screen. Let's see 640x480 on the next one
The time that it has taken to release this phone does show in the fact that it isn't cutting edge and only supports the older memory stick pro duo format, not the newer M2 sticks, which are smaller. This isn't too much of a problem, because the format will still be around for a long time yet and memory sticks are cheap. Sony may be phasing it out, but you won't be left without memory cards.
The fact that the phone has taken so long to arrive and is still not perfect, is a problem. Sony does believe in perfecting it's products (especially the flagship), so you should be prepared to upgrade the firmware regularly, but the biggest problem for buyers is that they may not understand how complicated this phone can be, nor what it really is.
The phone is quite large, but not too bad when you get used to it. It is heavy at 155grams, so use bluetooth for long calls, otherwise your arm will start to ache. It's screen is large and games look good on it. Text input can be made on the normal keypad, onscreen touch pad (my preferred method), full qwerty keyboard (under the flip), or by handwriting recognition. Predictive text is incredible. I typed one sentence just using one letter per word!
There are numerous menus, email, mms, sms, full internet browser, FM radio with RDS, downloadable themes, MP3 player, in fact the list of things that this phone has is quite formidable and for that reason you should expect to spend alot of time reading the manual.
It isn't a bad phone, but it needs alot of time to learn how to get the best out of it and it needs lots of firmware upgrades to make it right.
Until then, i would only recommend it to people that like technical products and need a good business phone. Otherwise, it is only going to be used for posing and saying look what i have got.
You can alway buy it and make phone calls and send text messages, then it is easy to use, but it defeats the object of the phone.