Review: Sony Ericsson P1i

The Sony Ericsson is a mixture of the M600 and the P990i. From the two, it has some things like the QWERTY keyboard, touch screen and some features inherited. But does the P1i offer more? What are the advantages and what are the disadvantages of the P1i? This review will answer all these questions.

Main advantage:

  • 3.2 megapixel-camera with autofocus
  • W-Lan (802.11b)
  • UIQ 3 Operation System
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • Huge 2.6’’ touchscreen
  • Main disadvantage:

  • Difficult usage
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Sales package:

    The Sony Ericsson P1i comes in a silver-grey color package. The noble looking package already represents the P1i. Once the packaging is open, you can see the silver-black P1i. Besides the P1i are still following accessories in the packaging:

    Carrying case
    Secondary stylus
    Headset (HPM-62)
    512MB Memory Stick
    Charger (CST-70)
    Desktop stand(CDS-65)
    USB-cable (DCU-65)
    CD with Sony Ericsson PC Suite

    This delivery is very generous from Sony Ericsson. Other models or other manufacturers don’t even contains a carrying case or deskstand. The headset and the cable are pretty solid but for my taste a little bit to plump. So, the big headphones doesn’t feel good in the ear and spoiled the mood when listening to music or telephoning.

    Built Quality:
    The P1i is mainly made of plastic, but nevertheless it feels very high quality. The front acts in conjunction with the keys and the large display extremely noble. Unfortunately, the display and the surface with the P1i writing aren’t really fingerprint resistant. More over, the back of the P1i is not armed for fingerprints. The battery cover offers no room and sits solid like a rock. Any gap masses are kept very small.


    20 of a total of 25 (scroll-wheel included) buttons can be found right under the large 2.6” wide touchscreen. Each of the 20 keys work like a seesaw, as you can move them in two directions. This keys have a good pressure point, at least for me and my well-thin fingers, more over, they are easy to reach. Most, except for ALT and ) , the 20 buttons have multiple functions. They have 2 or 3 characters on a button which can be activated just like on a PC by holding a special button. Furthermore, the P1i has also further five buttons.

    On the left side of the device there is, “back” button and the scroll-wheel. With these two keys, called ”Joy Dial”, you can control almost the entire device.

    On top of the device there is a power on / off button, which is a little bit too deep and bad to reach.

    On the right hand side of the P1i are the user defined key for shortcuts, and the camera button. All in all, all the buttons are easy to reach and have a good pressure point. The P1i is except with the keys also usable via the touchscreen. So, if you don’t like the QWERTY keyboard you can also choose also two other text input options. You can either write right on the touchscreen, which tend to be not too good to use, or you can also use the virtual-keyboard. This virtual-keyboard is very good and easy to use, and in my opinion better than the hardware keyboard. Unfortunately, the whole menu is concepted for the stylus. Therefore, you can act only at certain points with the finger.


    With its 124g the P1i lands in the midfield of the smartphones. Thus, it is heavier than Nokia’s N82, but lighter than the N81 8GB. In terms of size P1i lands back in the midfield. 106 x 55 x 17 mm, these are the dimensions of the typewriter. Compared to the N95 is a bit wider, but there is significantly smaller and thinner. So, the P1i is noticeable in the pocket, but it doesn’t bother so much.

    The P1i offers you 160 megabytes of storage. In addition you can find in the package a 512MB memory card which is a little bit to small for videos, photos and music. The 240 x 320 pixels 2.6” wide touchscreen display 256K colors. The brightness can be set manually. The display is bright and easy to read against sunlight.

    The P1i has two games pre-installed – Vijay Singh Pro Golf 3D and Quadra Pro. Pro Golf is, as the name implies, a very successful golf game. Quadra Pop is a mix of Tetris and four wins.


    The smartphone has a 3.2 megapixel camera on the back and a VGA (640×480) camera for video calls on the front. In addition, the main-camera has a pretty good autofocus and a LED for pictures in bad lightconditionals. To take a photo you just have to hit the photo button on the side. Once you hit the button, the camera menu opens. Now you can play with the camera settings. One of the best modes is the macro-mode. Using the macro-mode you can capture even more details of things which are about 10-60cm in front of the lens. Furthermore, you have a bunch of other settings to improve or modify the pictures. After you set all your settings you can hit he camera button and take the picture. Since the P1i is no K1i, the focus for the P1i is not on the camera. But nevertheless the photos are pretty sharp, but unfortunately often a little bit too dark. Objects within 2 meters can be light up with the LED. For objects which are outside of the magic 2 meters you can use the night-mode which is pretty useful. Here are some samples taken by the P1i:


    Of course the P1i can also record videos. The videos are taken with 240 x 320 pixels (QVGA). The videos are not so good that those can be play-backed on the TVset, but good enough to upload them to YouTube or watch them on the handheld itself. The video mode offers a bunch of settings too – you can change the resolution, white balance, microphone, effects, quality, night mode, save-location, capture tone and self-timer.


    The Business-Phone also offers a music-player which playbacks Mp3 and WMA. The quality of the provided headphones haven’t convince me, but for a little music between meetings it is good enough. Unfortunately, Sony Ericsson doesn’t provide an adapter for normal headphones, so that you can’t improve the sound. Expect via the headphones you can also playback the music via the loudspeaker which is located on the back of the device. However, this sounds too loud but slightly strange. In addition, the speaker on the back isn’t placed well so the sound is even worse when it lays with the speaker on the table. Except you lay it with the display on the desk – but how do you want to control the player than? You can control the audio-player either using the scroll-wheel or with the stylus.

    So you can stop the music, switch the title or change the volume using the scroll wheel. Using the stylus on the touchscreen you can also activate or deactivate the shuffle mode or pre/re-wind. If you don’t like the sound quality, you can try to improve it by open the equalizer and by choosing one certain mode out of 11. Exactly like on the PC you can also create own playlist on the P1i and playback it at any time. This is fairly simple and makes, if you have a lot songs, sense. Since the P1i runs on Symbian OS 9.1 UIQ 3, it’s of course possible to playback the music while you’re surfing the web or writing a text message. If you have no music on your P1i, you can also use the FM radio, which is related to the antenna, which is located in the headset.

    The P1i offers Wi-Fi, IrDA, Bluetooth, GPRS, UMTS, and Sony Ericsson’s port, which can be used for the connection to the PC. More over you can charge the P1i via the USB-cable. In the test the connection via Bluetooth to a PC, N95 and N82 ran smoothly. Besides SMS and MMS the P1i can also receive and send e-mails. After creating email accounts, emailing can begin. E-mails are displayed just like you are used it from the computer with images and graphics.

    With the QWERTY keyboard, Wi-Fi and the huge 2.6’’ display it’s obvious that surfing the World Wide Web is possible, too. P1i’s web browser can open WAP and html pages without bigger problems. To read the site even better you can zoom in and out the sites. Furthermore, the page can be shown just like on your desktop at home. But this is not as helpful as you have often to zoom and scroll up and down or in and out. My tip is Opera Mini. Using Opera Mini the sites are loaded ways faster and surfing is much easier. Opera Mini can be downloaded here:

    Using Opera:

    Using P1i’s browser:


    The menu has nine main-folders and is pretty oversee. As a newcomer you need a few hours to know exactly the whole menu but thanks to the good icons and the explanation it’s rather easy. On the standby screen can be shown 12 icons that are quickly made available. Unfortunately, you can move the icons in the main menu but you can decide whether the menu is shown in a list or grid.


    The smartphone is according to Sony Ericsson a business phone so it should offer specific business applications. Yes, indeed, for example the P1i has a extra folder called ‘’Office’’ with the following content:

    Card Scanner

    Using Quickoffice you can open and read Word, Exel and Powerpint files. More over, you can edit Word and even Exel files or create new files. A business application, but not in the ‘’Office’’ folder is the calendar. You can, for example, choose between monthly, weekly and daily view. Furthermore, you can set reminders, all-day events and anniversaries.

    With the P1i Sony Ericsson has launched a strong multimedia smartphone with big ambitions. Due to UIQ operating system an huge amount of 3rd party application can be installed making the P1i even more powerful. However, for a newcomer is P1i’s UI a little bit tricky and sometimes it needs a while to figure out how to do a certain task.


    ~ by Norman John on March 12, 2008.

    34 Responses to “Review: Sony Ericsson P1i”

    1. […] Read it here. […]

    2. I heard it is quite slow. Is this also your experience?

    3. all it needs now is threaded messaging and all is good

    4. I am normally a big fan of Sony Ericsson design but this phone looks pretty ugly and the keyboard brings to mind thoughts of computers from the 80s.

    5. Christopher: the keyboard is actually one of the best features of the phones (and other SE phones using this model). IT takes little time to get uses to it and once it’s done, you don’t want to go back to anything else.

    6. i totally agree with werty, the keyboard’s the best part of the phone. i have an m600i, and after trying the nokia e61i, the palm treo and the p990i, the only upgrade for me is the p1i. once you start rockin’ them buggers, there’s no goin’ back!

    7. I am a happy user of the P1i (after P990). It replaces my Palm TX and my former Nokia N70. The phone can a lot more than I ever expected. As of today I do only miss a UIQ3 bluetooth keyboard driver for the German Keyboard. When will it come ?

    8. If you were an UIQ2 user, migration to the ‘new’ UIQ3 platform might be ‘a little tricky’. I know many people who went from P910i straight to WinMobile, thanks to SE Product Management and Quality Depts… My detailed reasoning is at

    9. a nice platform

    10. I just purchased p1i few days ago. And so far I am contented with my new phone except for one thing… when playing mp3 it doesn’t sound good. Sort of cracking sound when the volume was set to HIGH. Compared to k750 it sounds good even at high volume. Is p1i sound no good?

    11. good , The beauty of it is that this phone is small enough fit in your shirt pocket without showing a bulge

    12. In general I like the phone but I wouldn’t have bought it had been for me loosing my old P910… As it happens, the old phone turned up again and now I’m in the situation that I’m using the new phone while strongly consider to go back to the P910. Why?
      Well, while the P1i has some features that I don’t dislike, e.g. Wi-Fi, a better camera and … uhh..? Well, the fact is that if you don’t really need high speed connection and already have a digital camera (yepp, that’s me!) you shouldn’t bother to replace your P910 (unless you think it’s too big).

      Some P1i issues:
      – it takes almost 2 minutes to start
      – it can be incredible slow (especiallym but not only) if you don’t close open applications
      – it’s more difficult to find free applications compared to the P910 (hopefully, this might change with time)
      – stupid implementations of various functions, e.g:
      WHY can’t I select the time out before the automatic keylock kicks in???
      WHY is the navigation in Contacts much better in the P910? P910 had tabs with 3 letters which made it fast&easy to find the entry I wanted, an excellent “Find” function and easy&fast folder selection. With P1i I have to scroll and scroll and scroll…… to find an entry and while there IS a find function, I can not even search all fields in the contacts, only the name… and the folder selection? Hidden away with other functions under “More”…
      A nice new feature is the (up to 15) icons on the “home screen”. But WHY 15?? Why can’t I decide myself?? Why not 5, 10, 45??? combined with a smart scroll function.

      Hopefully, in the future new SW versions will correct some of this but so far no updated versions has been made available… Maybe the philosofy of SE is that “Hey, why bother upgrade the SW? The suckers already PAID for the phones and soon we can sell them another one! With non compatible cables, connectors, adapters etc, etc…..)

      Btw: see also the comments and blog of Sergey Zak above. Right on the spot.

    13. I agree that the functionality of the P1i is worse than the P900. The only exceptions are the nicer keyboard, screen, WLAN, and camera. I’m considering to switch back: A phone book without search function is as useful as a car without wheels!

    14. Aragorn asked – WHY can’t I select the time out before the automatic keylock kicks in???
      You can solve this by upgrading the firmware, via the Sony Ericsson Update Service:
      The latest version doesn’t automatically lock the keys – rather, it tends to leave the phone unlocked.

      Dexter asked about sound quality. Sound volume rather than quality has been the biggest frustration of mine – I think it may be something to do with EU volume limiting regulations. I have found that you can get the best volume and sound for music and speech by setting the graphic equalizer within the Music Player to ‘Classical’.
      You can boost the volume a bit by adding the 3rd party CorePlayer application for Symbian UIQ3. However, this soon leads to distortion.

      This phone outperforms the new iPhone 3G on quite a few features – better camera, video recorder, FM radio, MMS messaging, all of which makes me reluctant to trade it in for a new model on 11 July, despite some very tempting iPhone tariffs with unlimited data from O2 in the UK. However, I think max memory in the P1i is 4GB by upgrading the memory card.
      I too really like the keyboard now I’ve got used to it – I find it works best if you completely turn off predictive text and just type away.
      Therefore very reluctant about upgrading to a new phone without a keyboard – the new Samsung Omnia i900 sounds pretty good however if you want a phone that does absolutely everything! I don’t think the new Sony Ericsson Experia X1 is going to be a massive advance on the P1i other than in looks – watch this space.
      If anybody else knows about another forthcoming ‘does everything’ iPhone killer, please let me know!

    15. its a great phone.. i’m lovin it… i hope i can get use to it on my 1st week of usage…..

    16. This was my experience, When I purchased this phone which is P1i, 2 of my colleagues also purchased P1i the next day, and few days later, I noticed that a lot of employees in my company are already using P1i. It only shows that this P1i is a great handset! What I want to do nonw is to upgrade it to a Walkman Phone… can somebody help me?

    17. I got it about three weeks ago, though not a sony ericsson fan, I’m just trying to get used to UIQ devices. Not a bad phone but my problem is the location of the side buttons especially the back and the web shortcut button which I spontaneously made the task manager shortcut as a S60 guy.the locations are just awkward.
      It’s crazy that such a phone would have a front camera for video calls only. I felt a little shortchange the day i found out, if those engineers in Japan or wherever feel the loudspeaker cover serves that purpose then they must be kidding.
      Aside all that i think it’s a wonderful phone with an excellent multitasking capability which is why i’ll keep it for a while but i hope there is a FExplorer equivalent in UIQ.

    18. The software update would probably solve most of the software issues as I had to send mine in tech support due to it freezing up. The phone received the software update as I noticed a new control panel screen!
      It’s much better with the software update though the media player is still lacking in function!
      It’s not that fast but remember that it’s a PDA and to shut OFF Wifi and every other feature in the background to conserve battery life!
      The battery needs to be recharged ~2-3 days so it’s somewhat a battery hog!

    19. chido

    20. i dont think that phone is better than the iphone its just an p990 disguised.very low video resolution in vidoe recording while most of nokia 2mpx phones have 640×480 hava at least fix the autofocus function on video recording so the video dont look blurred? and another major update that does not include is W-Lan (802.11g) why still W-Lan (802.11b)? sony is doing some major mistakes here p990 is very slow,i ve tried p1i and stil slow no reason to buy it.

    21. can we use p1i only as a walkman?

    22. still considering to buy this phone..
      or waiting to get iphone 3g


    24. Had my P1i for the best part of 6 months now and it is without doubt the worst phone I’ve ever had. Yes it can do a lot but when when it fails at the basics there’s a problem – it’s prone to going becoming dormant then you don’t any comms. It will often freeze where the only fix is taking the battery out. Software updates thus far have been to include Arabic but nothing to cure the main glitches. It’s going back to SE and let’s see what they do with it.

    25. Had my P1i for a couple of months now. Being my first UIQ device or a smartphone/PDA, it took a little while to adjust to it. First off, I really have to sound off that the p1i by default performs slowly but through online search, I found some helpful guides to speed up the system which REALLY helps. Secondly (my own taste really), the UI was rather drab for something in 2007/2008. Thank goodness for themes and icon changes. I found myself enjoying the p1i UI much much more.

      For the good parts:
      – it’s a good combination of most gadgets I want on a daily basis
      + decent enough camera (sadly without real xenon flash but good enough otherwise)
      + nice large touch screen for browsing the web and quite fun with Google Maps touch screen
      + plays music especially with a 4GB card stored
      + nice keyboard for text messages
      + can be set to check email periodically or push-email. I have not used the Blackberry service so cannot comment on that
      + easy transfer of files from computer to phone
      + nice keyboard – I find myself using the Notes feature a lot more with the ease of the keyboard. Once I got used to the keys, I am much faster typing than with any other handset

      – slow
      – camera is slow to launch (quality is better than most but nowhere near as good as the k800i though that is a Cybershot phone/cam so they are in different leagues)
      – a little thick
      – screen size is a bit small… well, I’m actually getting greedy on this one really
      – keyboard and UI took a bit of getting used to
      – doesn’t look as “modern” now that we’re entering 2009
      – UI is pretty unattractive until you change themes AND icons
      – crashed twice so far

      Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with this phone that does all I need it to. It is indeed not as easy to control music but I haven’t installed the music player 3 yet. Good solid phone. Don’t expect to compare it to the newer full touch-screen sleek models for aesthetics but it does what it is meant to do.

    26. but hey nobody or nothing is perfect!

    27. I now have this phone for 2 weeks now,
      i can say that i am pretty content with it
      Yet i can hardly wait and see how this Device will perform once 3rd party developers make Applications for UIQ3 Based phones..

      it was very easy to use,
      well the design and i quote from above, looks So 80’s but hey, the 80’s Rocked;) so im not unhappy bout it:P (and Thanks for making me notice btw)

      Well i just bought a 2GBs Memory Stick M2, and it seems that it started to become a little slow, but im shocked bout the fact that you say its slow although it contains 128MBs of RAM, which is a little too Good for a phone, and it also helps in Multitasking
      i totally agree that it is a little slow to start, but hey…N80…ringa bell?!;)

      All in All!
      The P1i is an Epitome of Sony Ericsson Phones,
      i have to admit that it has “software issues” (due to the lack of 3rd Party Developers for UIQ based phones)
      Keep up the Good Work Sony Ericsson, You’re doin’ Gr8!

      P.S….nXt time Around…put the “Turn on Light” Option in ur shortcuts the same way you did with the K750… helps from time to time….(-_-)

    28. I got this P1i phone couple of years back and it still rocks me by its performance. The amazing features of the phones are damn good that I want to once again go for the same phone but unfortunately they have stopped the model. Now no other Sony Ericsson mobile can compete this P1i

    29. Hello!
      I have SE P1i and the photo button isn’t work.
      Can anyone tell me how to take picture without the photo button?

    30. it’s nice share, thanks…

    31. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment.
      I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
      Thank You

    32. I think it’s a good phone 🙂

    33. Thanks for the great post. I am planning some activities this summer, it really helped! Keep up the great work! I will be following your blog.

    34. So much nice and informative mobiles

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