Product: Sony Ericsson Naite 3G mobile phone
As the fella who was labeled a "refusenik" by the New York Times awhile back (where they amped up the drama to "11" for the sake of the article), it may be notable news I've made a soft return to the world of cell phone use, signing up for a pay-as-you-go plan. Sony Ericsson was kind enough to let me test an unlocked 3G model to dip my toes back into the wireless pool with a handset manufactured from recycled plastic and Energy Star V standard compliant specs, with many features that make the Naite a worthy consideration for the casual, non-smartphone customer.
Just to get it out of the way, because we know you're wondering, the "Naite" is pronounced like the sleepwear with an Aussie accent (nigh-tay). The 4.3" long candy bar handset comes inside a cloth sleeve, packaged in a small box designed to reduce cardboard waste, befitting the small size of the handset itself. The Naite is notably manufactured from recycled plastic water bottles and CDs, earning it the GreenHeart moniker. Lightweight, the handset doesn't come off feeling cheap thanks to its ribbed plastic back, designed with enough texture to give the phone understated design flair while also aiding its ergonomics.
The 2.2", 240x320 pixel resolution QVGA screen is at the heart of the Naite's everyday appeal. Vivid, bright and sharp, with support for 262K colours and remarkable contrast, especially useful when navigating Sony's somewhat outdated user interface (which feels both easily accessible in a PS3 sort of fashion, while also feeling a bit stuck in the year 2000 in iconography). The Naite's two cameras allow for 2 megapixel photography and also video calling (you'll likely want to upgrade the 100MB internal memory; supports up to an 8GB microSD card); the digital camera feature performed acceptably in daytime lighting, but you won't be ditching your point and shoot otherwise.
Standard features include a 1000 contact address book, FM radio, Twitter, email, 3G support (which we could not test with our pay-as-you-go account), and a mobile web browser. You won't be getting this phone for extended online access, as typing on the cramped keyboard can be a bit of a challenge except for the most pixie-ish of users. But we experienced no issues with voice quality or reception all throughout Los Angeles, nor for short messaging activity, making the phone an adept feature equipped travel partner, especially considering the 2-3 day battery life between charges (the phone even reminds you to unplug your phone charger for energy-saving reasons, which we commend as a smart touch that actually helped us practice smarter habits).
The Sony Ericsson Naite in many ways is a refined entry level mobile phone with features and quality that a few years would have made it a top tier handset before the arrival of luxury handsets like the iPhone, Pre, Blackberry and Android, with their plethora of features aimed at power users. But for casual users who use their mobile devices in modest amounts for the core activities of actual phone calls, light texting duty and the occasional Google search, there's little to fault with the Naite. It's the sort of device you don't necessarily show off, but find as a dependable, low cost-moderate feature companion on the go. We like our Naite, strange name and all.
Pros: pocket-friendly design, capable camera, vivid-sharp screen, manufactured with recycled materials, long battery life, solid voice quality
Cons: horrible proprietary power connection, browsing online is only recommended in dire circumstances, included headset seems an afterthought
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.