By Michell Bak, 16th of June 2007
The K550 is part of the second generation Cyber-Shot phones along with K810. Where K810 replaces the K800, K550 replaces the older K750, which introduced 2 mega pixels in camera phones and auto focus in a compact design. K550 has just been released a month ago in several European countries, and it is available in both black and white. My favourite colour is definitely the white one, but the black one is really hot, too. The phone is pretty thin, too. Measuring in at only 14 mm in depth, it’s one of Sony Ericsson’s thinnest candy bar phones. The dimensions are 102 x 46 x 14 mm and the weight is at exactly 84 grams, which makes it pretty light, too.
The keys are in the same style as the W880 ones, but I prefer to use these on K550. They are a bit bigger and feels better to use. On the front you’ll find all the ordinary keys such as soft keys, keypad and short cuts for web browsing and the activity menu. On the right side you’ll find the camera keys (zoom and the shutter key) and on the left side, you’ll find the play/pause button and connector stick. Also available on the left side is the memory slot, but this requires taking off the back. The phone uses a rather strange, but effective lock mechanism for the back – it has to locks placed on the right side, and when unlocked you can remove the back cover, when locked, you can’t. Simple, yet very efficient.
Same old, same old…
The menu system on K550 is very much like the one on W880 and K800 – more like K800’s actually, as this one also has the “Cyber-Shot” icon in the menu. The menus are very easy to use, and it doesn’t take long before you master the phone’s menu system. The file explorer in K550 is pretty advanced and is like the one in all newer mid to high-end Sony Ericsson phones. It can rename files, mark, move, sort in different ways, send files via Bluetooth, IR, MMS, e-mail or to blog (using Blogger) and much more. The camera album has some cool features such as time line view, which sorts the pictures by either day or month. It’s a cool effect, which works well in practice. There is also a short cut to edit the chosen picture in PictureDJ, which is Sony Ericsson’s answer to a light version of Photoshop in mobile phones. Here you can do minor changes like colour fix, light balance, contrast, removal of ‘red eyes’, effects and rotation.
Is Cyber-Shot really a brand of quality?
Well, K550 is supposed to replace the K750. And it does, but still, on the camera side it doesn’t feel like much of a successor. In many coincidences, I found the K750 pictures being better than the ones from K550. The flash, however, seems to be a bit better on K550. The camera interface is like the K800 / K810 one, which is really good. The camera pictures are generally pretty decent. Nothing to scream to the world about, it’s just okay. When compared to the K800, it was pretty obvious that it lacked a nice flash, like the K800 / K810 has. Also, it seems that the pictures taken with K550 are much more noise than the ones shot with K800. The file size with K800 was also a lot bigger than K550’s. A rather weird thing is that in macro mode with K550 it will blur anything more than a meter or so away, even if there is no subject within that range. This doesn’t happen with K800, as you can see in these samples (K550 first, K800 second).
And here are a few more comparative camera samples…
The video in K550 is of average quality for a phone of it’s kind. It records in QCIF (176 x 144) resolution with 20 fps in high quality-mode. The frame rate is quite fitting for this sort of phone, but still it’d be nice to have a greater resolution.
A video sample can be found here
Fun is a keyword
In K550 you’ll find one game. Well, at least in the Danish version. And that game is called Quadra Pop and is a tetris like game with music nodes instead of blocks. If you don’t have anything else to do, this could get you entertained for some time. The really fun part, however, starts when you are with your friends and you grab your K550, start shooting some pictures of them and put them into an application called FaceWarp. This application has been in Sony Ericsson’s K790/K800 for quite some time, but it’s still as funny as before. With the application you can snap a picture and then change the faces – one minute you have a regular face, the next you could look like an alien.
The screen is a TFD LCD screen with a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels. It can show up to 262.144 colours. It doesn’t work that well in direct sun light, and seems to be a bit pixelated when comparing to other phones with a better resolution.
The music player in K550 reminds me of the first version of the Walkman player. It’s pretty simple, but gets the job done. It sorts your songs by album and artist, and you can also create play lists. The sound quality is just O.K., but it isn’t really something to write home about. The volume level is just average, too. Along with the phone comes a 512 MB M2 memory card (64 MB on-board), which can hold about 125 songs in MP3 format. There is also a FM-radio in K550, which works just fine and can automatically store up to 20 channels. It also supports RDS.
Still a phone…
The brilliant phone book has room for thousand contacts or a maximum of 2500 numbers. You can store all sorts of informations about contacts such as name, picture, different numbers, e-mails, web page, notes, birthday (automatically adds a reference in the calender to remind you!), job, address and specific ring tones. The call part of the phone works fine and sound quality is really good, although when using the loud speaker it gets a bit hissy.
You can manage your calls in the “Call”-menu. There you have your incoming, outgoing and missed calls in different tabs. It can store up to 30 call records in all.
The Sony Ericsson K550i is a really nice phone for those, who doesn’t need all these fancy features like WiFi and GPS, but still would like a nice camera phone that takes some decent pictures. The pricing of the phone is very good compared to the specifications and so is the battery life.