Review: Sony Ericsson TM506
The TM506 has a small monochrome display on the outside panel. Pressing the volume toggle on the right turns it on. The white text on a black background is easily readable, even in full sunlight. You can instantly see all your status indicators.
The interior screen is a different story. The default theme uses a white background for the home screen and menus. While the display is nice and sharp and brilliant indoors, it is unreadable when outside. Even switching to other themes doesn't help out all that much. It is large, though, and icons, animations and graphics look smooth and free of pixelated edges.
The TM506 is a quad-band GSM/EDGE phone, but also supports T-Mobile's slowly expanding 1700MHz HSDPA 3G network. When in areas covered by T-Mobile's standard GSM/EDGE network, it rated five full bars in most places. It performed very well. Even in areas we know to have poor T-Mobile coverage, it remained connected to the network.
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We were only able to test the 3G signal in New York City briefly. The highest signal reading we were able to get was three bars. Surfing the mobile Web with those three bars was very speedy. Using T-Zones to pull up PhoneScoop.com, Google, and other sites was no problem. Neither was making voice calls. The TM506 will automatically use the 3G network when it is available, and revert to standard GSM network in areas not covered by T-Mobile's 3G network.
The quality of phone calls was mostly good, but not super fantastic. People I called said that I sounded good coming though the TM506, but calls sounded muddy through the TM506's earpiece. Altering the volume did nothing to ameliorate this. The earpiece volume does not go as high as we'd like it to. There was also the faintest echo during most calls, almost like it was going through a echo chamber. Despite the muddy quality of calls, I had no problem hearing people. There was no static, crackling or other noises during any of the phone calls that I made.
The ringers and speakerphone can be set to mind-numbingly loud volumes. The TM506 is so loud, the phone even warns you when you set the ringer to is maximum volume. It can be heard from several rooms away, and even from different floors. You're not going to miss any calls, not even in noisy coffee shops. The vibrating ringer was also strong enough to alert us to calls most of the time. We did miss one call when on vibrate.
Battery life was stellar. In standard GSM/EDGE areas, we eked out four days of usage. That was with minimal calls, some text messages and light Web surfing. Testing out the rated talktime of 210 minutes, we manage to achieve just 196, a bit short of the full amount.
Sony Ericsson and T-Mobile have teamed up for the first time in four years to offer the 3G-equipped TM506. Was it worth the wait?
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