Sony Ericsson want to take the well-heeled among us back to basics with a phone that lets you make calls, send text messages and check the time and not much more. But is it too late to backtrack that far?
What we like
We’ll admit that the Pureness is nice to look at – from a distance at least. It’s compact, it’s light and we really like the way the keypad lights up in a cascade fashion. The screen is transparent, which means if you’re texting and walking at the same time you should be able to spot any obstacles in your way thus avoiding falling over and embarrassing yourself.
Unlike the basic call-and-text phones of yore, the Pureness shows your text messages as conversations, a nice touch which we’ve always found really handy. Tabbed menus that you can scroll through from left to right make good use of the diminuitive screen as well.
A real boon with retro value is that the Pureness comes with legendary arcade game Pac-Man , but the translucence of the screen makes it really difficult to play.
The Pureness has a music player built in – unfortunately it doesn’t seem to play nice with Mac computers so we were scuppered in our attempts to test this out. The radio function is fine, but you have to plug the handsfree set in which doubles as the antenna.
What we don’t like
Well… it doesn’t really do much. If you’ve ever used any kind of feature rich phone, you’ll get really annoyed at what you can’t do. There’s no camera so you can’t take photos or video so on a night out, you’d need to pack a separate camera. You can transfer both to the phone via Bluetooth but there’s no point as you can’t see them on the translucent screen.
Speaking of which, it’s really hard to see the screen in daylight. Sure, Sony Ericsson might be trying to convince you that this is the perfect phone for going out – but we’re not sure we’re on board with a £500 phone that you can only use after the sun has set. We had to keep putting the phone in front of black objects to be able to see anything, which – aside from being really annoying – utterly defeats the object of having a see-through screen in the first place. The screen and the glossy keys get grubby with finger prints and makeup really easily too.
The power button is really stupidly small and fiddly to push and there is a 3.5mm headphone jack but only at the end of another wire connector which fits into the charging station. If you accidentally remove the SIM card cover when looking for the headphone jack, or in a fit of pique then the phone restarts – annoying if you’re in the middle of something like a Bluetooth file transfer. It’s light but it feels like a toy.
The internet functionality is ridiculous – it’s like stepping back in time to when we all used WAP. You just might as well not have it. It’s all very well to say that you don’t need the internet when you’re going out but we strongly disagree; if you’ve ever had a smartphone, you’ll know you use it all the time – finding bars and taxi companies, tweeting, uploading that must-see photo to Facebook or simply using maps to find out where the hell you are.
Our overwhelming feeling when testing the Pureness was one of frustration. Yes, the screen is impressive at first, and yes squeezing all the mechanics into the bottom half of the phone is all well and good – but at what price? The screen makes texting and the time difficult to see, after all, and those are two-thirds of Sony Ericsson’s key selling points for the Pureness.
If you have more money than sense, then you might well buy this phone and not be disappointed. At £500 it’s incredibly expensive for what it is; some will argue that you’re paying for the design but in all honesty, it’s nothing that special in that arena, especially not up close when it looks and feels a little cheap.