Last updated: 2004.07.29

Sony ericsson t610 GSM World Phone

switching | SIM | phonebook | Speed Dial | shortcuts | Data/WAP | t-zones | emails | PC Connectivity| calendar | camera | carrying case | alarm | unlock | links |

This review contains my user experience of using my Sony ericsson t610 world phone in United States, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. I use T-Mobile (used to be Voicestream) as the provider in the United States with a country wide plan (free calls anywhere to anywhere within the US) and roam with them in Germany. In Hong Kong I switch to a prepaid SIM card from Orange because their rates are so much cheaper.

I switched to this phone from my trusty Nokia 8890 August 2003. I loved my Nokia. The metal case. The simple interface. But it does not do WAP, no bluetooth, no email, no camera. I finally broke down and bought a t-mobile locked t610 for about $350. If you sign-up with a new contract you can get the phone for considerable less money as of the time of this article.

I am now testing out the newer clamshell style Z600, read the review.

Not So Easy Switching Phone

At the store, they pop my current SIM card that I have been using for 3 years into the T610, and the phone will not boot up. Tried another phone -- same thing. Seems like the phone requires or checks the SIM card. The t-mobile T610 package somes with a SIM card in the box. We ended up swapping the physical SIM card to get it working. The switching (via t-mobile customer service) only took ten minutes or so, and my new SIM card is working. Of course the old one is disabled. The new card works in the T610 and in my old Nokia 8890.

Copying contact list from SIM to SIM

Since I switched card, I need to copy my hundred or so phone numbers from the old card to the new. Luckily both phones have the copy feature. On the Nokia, I copy the numbers from the card to the internal phone memory first. Then I pop the new card into the Nokia, and copy from internal memory back onto the new card. The copy commands are in the "names" menu, which is the right side soft key when the phone is in standby mode on the Nokia.

Phonebook

The phonebook / contact list behaviour is different in the 610 than from my Nokia. The contacts must be in the phone's internal memory and not on the SIM card. More specifically, the down joystick contact list search is searching only the internal memory. Under phonebook/advance, there is an option to copy numbers from the SIM card to the phones internal memory.

Speed Dialing

Speeding dialing -- i.e. using the 1-9 keys to dial a number quickly, is very different from my Nokia. The speed dial settings are stored on the SIM card. You have to edit the order, or positions, of the numbers on the SIM card.

The tricky part is -- to move an existing number out of its slot to make way for a different number, you have to go to: phonebook / advance / position list / to move it. Then you can assign a number via phonebook / manage contact / edit contact / positions.

The actual calling key sequence is also different. Press one of the 1-9 keys, then press call.

Shortcuts

Some usage shortcuts, but also see the "shortcut" feature below.
  • during call, press and hold "C" will mute the microphone.
  • initialate voicd dialing -- press and hold one of the volume buttons on the left side of the phone (if you do not have the headset plug in)
  • locking the keypad -- press more (soft right key), then asterisk
  • to get to the service menu to get the s/w revision string: > * < < * < *

shortcut feature

Besides the shortcut keys described above, the phone itself has a shortcut feature. You can assign different functions so that you can get to them via the shortcut menu. i.e. only two button press away. But wait -- there is more -- the "first" position shortcut is available as the "left joystick" selection. i.e. you can customize what feature is accessed when you press the joystick left during standby.

Data Connection and WAP

There seems to be lots of confusion to their data plans. There are two WAP plans called t-zone. One is for $2.99 with data limit, and the other one is for $9.99 without limit. But those are for WAP services only via their WAP gateway. So in theory you cannot get other data services (via your PC) with it. Most of the online forums seems to say that you can use it to access the net via the PC via IR or bluetooth. But you are probably not suppose to. Plus it may flow through a wap gateway with conversion. There is the unlimited $20 internet plan that offers full data services, which include the WAP services. At least that is my understanding.

WAP Setting

My phone comes with a WAP setting for t-zones but it is not viewable nor editable. I followed the Sony ericsson instruction, went to their site at http://www.sonyericsson.com/support to download the settings. Follow their instructions there. Note: On the t-mobile site, they also list their own settings.

t-zones

Go online to t-mobile.com and log in. Go to the t-zones setting and update the "home page". That will give you customized movie listings, weather, etc. Much easier to do it on the PC than on the phone. The customer information will show up under the My Settings menu item at t-zones on the phone, which, at least to me, is not obvious.

Email Setup

There are two ways to do this. First is use the web email provided by t-zones. Again, using t-zones, e-mail settings, setup access to a outside email box. Since I have several domains under my ownership, I just setup another email box on my domain and configure t-zones to pull emails from that mailbox. This way you can access one or more mailbox via "web", or WAP via the t-zone menu. However, since the T610 has a built in email client, it is much easier to use the built in client on the phone. Just go to email, add a new account, painfully type in the email settings (incoming server, mailbox (user), password, etc and you can check emails on the phone directly.

Multiple Email Box

I want to be able to check multiple email inboxes on the phone. After all, Eudora lets me do that on my desktop... I can setup multiple email (IMAP) acocunts on the phone, but you can only have one active at a time. As you switch accounts, the inbox is lost.

IMAP Email / Long Messages and inbox

I find that the phone will download only parts of a messaeg and part of the inbox each time. Since I have lots of messages in my inbox, it will download the first 47 or so, and if I want to see the older headers, it will reconnect and download some more. I guess that save memory on the phone. However with the t-mobile network it is sloooow.

Entering pause and stops in phone number for calling voice mail box

This information is somehow not in the T610 user guide. From the Sony support site, this is the info:

PAUSES and STOPS are used for sending extra information or halting the transmission of information after the phone number has been dialed and connected. This is widely used with voice mail systems. To add a PAUSE press and hold down the "ASTERISK" key until you see the letter "P" or two little line which both represent a PAUSE. A STOP can be added by holding down the number sign key (pound sign key). A STOP is used to halt the transmission of information until the send key is pressed. NOTE: GSM phones do not support STOPS. They do however support PAUSES.

However, using this method, I can only first "dial" the number ,then save it to the contact record. It does not work when editing the contact. Luckily, Bob figured out that you can hold down the "7" key while editing to enter a contact and emailed me the tip. Thanks! So the best way is to hold down the "7" key while editing phone numbers when editing contact info.

GPRS/Data access from Windows/Using the Phone as a Modem

You need to install the Sony ericsson Communication Suite to do this. However the suite insists on installing the XTND-PC software for syncing the phone with Outlook, which I do not use. The installation seems to abort when Outlook is not found. I downloaded the communicatino suite again from the Sony support website, ran that, and that time it continued after I cancel the XTND-PC setup and it worked. After the install, run the dialup wizzard to create the actual GPRS dialup connection.

I needed the phone to be connected so that the wizzard can find it. For the infrared option it is easy. Just enable the infrared port on the phone and place it next to the PC so that they can "see" each other.

Bluetooth Connectivity

To get the PC to use the phone via bluetooth to access the internet is a little harder. I cannot find a way to activate the bluetooth connection so that the wizzard can find the phone via bluetooth. I ended up copying the network settings and changing the comm port from the IR comm port to the bluetooth comm port. The bluetooth comm port (modem) was installed by my bluetooth adaptor software.

Calendar Display

The month view on the T610 is amazingly clear. I added that to my shortcut so that I can get to it via three or so keystroke. I am debating to make that the "joystick left" selection or not. Currently I still have my email set for that. The default display shows Monday as the starting day of the week. You can change that via "Caldendar / options / start date" menu item.

Camera

The quality of the camera is ok, but it is sure fun. I have yet to find a way to disable the camer "snaping" / "shutter" sound without having to switch silent on for the entire phone. Here are some random pictures -- I was at the bulleting board at my loft and saw this for sale listing. I know someone who is looking for a stool, so out come the phone, take the picture, and email it off.

click to see full size
 
   

Carrying Case

I looked around and ended up buying a BodyGlove Universal Scuba Cellsuit small case. It is a simple open case with a belt clip that can be rotated. I bought it at the t-mobile store. Note that this is different from their BodyGlove cellsuit case.

     

Update -- My phone fell out of this case twice and unfortunately, hit rough concrete floor. So it is all scratched up....

Alarm

I use my cellphone as my alarm clock each day. A few notes on the alarm on the T610:

  • The default alarm sound selection is not very loud, you probably want to change it.
  • The alarm will still go off if you switch the phone off, which is nice if you don't want to be bothered with phone calls, but want to wake up by the alarm in the morning, just like my Nokia 8890, but
  • After the alarm going off when the phone is off, the T610 does not offer to turn the phone on for you, as an option. The Nokia does. After getting up I always want to turn my phone on, so there is an extra step with the T610. Mildly annoying after getting use to my Nokia.

Unlocking the Phone

If you bought the phone from t-mobile, it is locked and can only be used on a t-mobile sim card. To unlock the phone, you can request the unlock code for free from t-mobile. Someone suggested sending email to simunlock@tmobile.com but that did not work for me. I called tech support and they handled it for me. I gave them some identification information, my IMEI, and the emailed me (to the phone) the code and instruction within 24 hours. I now have an unlocked t610.

Locating the IMEI -- The easy way is to enter the following into the phone: *#06# . An alternate way is to look at the labels underneath the battery. It is usually a 15 digit number in the form of: nnnnnnnn-nnnnnn-n-nn. I think the last two digits are not used.

The t-mobile instruction to unlock is as follows, which is slightly wrong. Once you get to the service menual, it will be obvious as to what to press to get to the screen to enter the NCK.

 1. Press LEFT arrow, *, *, LEFT arrow 
  2. Press YES until the display reads?Enter NCK, 0x attempts? (x is the number attempts left)
 3. Enter the unlock code and pressYES. The displayshould read ?Network Unlocked.?

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