Sony Ericsson K850 Review: 5 Megapixel Phone-and-Shoot: Design, Construction

By 07:53 Sun, 08 Aug 2021 Comments

Cyber-shot evolves

The soft and rounded Sony Ericsson K850 visually differs a lot from the Sony Ericsson K810, not to mention its predecessors. At least it stays faithful to the bar-shape form factor. K850 accommodates some notable construction and navigation novelties: dedicated call and discontinue keys, recent D-pad layout, three-position capturing camera key, as well as an on/off capturing camera key and a digicam-like bottom battery cover.

Sony Ericsson K850 • compared to Nokia N95 • compared to Sony Ericsson T650

The large 2.2" quality TFT display takes up most of the front panel and scores notably higher both in brightness and contrast, compared to the 2" TFT display of Sony Ericsson K810. Keeping almost the same dimensions while building larger displays is an issue that constantly nudges handset designers. In K850 the obvious solution is integrating the D-pad in the keyboard, thus making some room for the larger 2.2" display.

The display, and the entire front panel, has a nice mirror-like finish, but again it catches fingerprints rather easily, like the K810 and K800. Above it, a small secondary Video Graphics Array (VGA) capturing camera is discretely located, along with the earpiece. The capturing camera is beneath the panel surface, leaving the even surface of the front unspoiled.

Sony Ericsson K850 - speaker and secondary camera

Right below the display, we find the three brand recent sensor like soft keys. They perform multiple functions varying by the context of different applications. The sensor like soft keys offer a truly novel experience in handling the Sony Ericsson K850. The diehard Sony Ericsson user will immediately notice that the location of the soft key functions are reversed. In other Sony Ericsson phones the More soft key is located on the right, whereas now it is called Options and corresponds to the recent left soft key, with several exceptions. The proprietary "Back" key is absent, now replaced by the correct soft key. The center soft key performs variable functions within applications. The logic behind all this is simple - in menus, where in other Sony Ericsson phones you have only one active soft key, the center soft key is to be used. Alternatively, in menus where both soft keys have functions (for example messaging -> templates), in other handsets you would have "Select" and "Info", while in K850 you have "Info", "Select" and "Back" soft key order. Reviewing the K850 was fun, as we often pressed the incorrect soft key, driven by the force of habit. However, using the device for a week was enough for us to acquire the hang of the recent allocation, owing to the simple fact that most leading phone manufactures utilize the same soft key order in their devices. The recent soft keys in K850 are also a design decision, driven by the lack of space with the large display on pretty much the same dimensions as K810. We welcome this innovation by the Sony Ericsson team, which to us is an attempt to respond to users' demands.

The three soft keys and the keyboard

A bit below the three soft keys are the brand recent dual-function Call / Quick Menu key and Clear / End key, that create the phone handling even better. The dedicated Call and End keys, along with the tree soft keys and the D-pad novelties are inconsistent with the longstanding way of doing things, but hold the K850 closer to the mass market. Under the Call and End keys is the keypad with the T650 cool styling, however the keys have grown bigger. The rightmost column of the alphanumeric keys serves a double purpose: in Camera mode they're used for changing the shooting mode, scene mode, self-timer and flash options. Icons with blue backlighting elaborate the function of each key. The D-pad can also be used for zooming in and out when taking pictures, while scrolling up or down on changes the exposure compensation. Most of the Sony Ericsson users out there would be excited to see that Sony Ericsson has again used the sleeker D-pad instead of a joystick. It's now a thin color plastic rectangle, placed correct within the keypad and enfolding the 2 and 5 key. A brecent and controversial design indeed, as most Sony Ericsson phones have a confirming center of the D-pad or a joystick. In K850, the Confirm function is entrusted to the middle soft key, correct above the D-pad - another decision that raises doubts about user-friendliness.

The debatable D-pad

The Sony Ericsson K850 left side features no keys. Neat and simple, all you see is the color stripe that runs along the side parts of the phone.

Left side: neat and sweet

The bottom part of the K850 features a digicam-like battery cover, which shelters the phone's battery, the SIM card, and the memory card slot. The latter deserves special attention since this is the first Sony Ericsson attempt at dual card support. Two cards are compatible with the slot: M2 and microSD.


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