By August 8, 2009

Sony Ericsson C903 review

The C903 s yet another offering in the worryingly large Cybershot range from Sony Ericsson. It has been seen by many as the little brother to the C905 and in many ways I would have to agree, a smaller price tag, a drop from 8MP to 5MP and the presence of the somewhat familiar Sony Ericsson navigation.

That said the C903 does manage to maintain its own personality and looks, well sort of, it is a slider like its older brother but does still have a unique look and styling.

The Sony Ericsson C903

The Sony Ericsson C903


Whats in the box?

  • Sony Ericsson C903
  • Battery 
  • Charger
  • Stereo portable handsfree HPM-62
  • User guide

Note that there was no USB transfer cable in the box with the review device so I don’t know if this was simply missing or if this handset simply doesn’t come with one.

Have a look at Matt’s Sony Ericsson C903 unboxing video for more.


Sony Ericsson C903 specification:

  • Size – 97 x 49 x 16 mm
  • Weight – 96 g
  • Screen – 262,144-colour TFT QVGA – 240×320 pixel
  • Memory – 130 MB Phone Memory
  • Memory Stick Micro™ (M2™) support
  • Networks – EDGE, GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, HSDPA, UMTS 1900, UMTS 2100
  • Camera – 5 megapixel camera
    – Photo flash
    – Auto focus
    – Face detection
    – Geo-tagging
  • Media player
  • Bluetooth™ stereo (A2DP)
  • Google Maps™
  • aGPS
  • Wayfinder Navigator™ (3-month trial version)
  • FM Radio with RDS
  • YouTube™
  • TV-out



As mentioned the C903 is a slider and although we have seen many slider from the cybershot range and Sony Ericsson in general the C903 still manages to establish a distinctive look easily recognisable with the range of colours available. As Matt stated in the unboxing the C903 does have a very plastic like feel and this is something which you would usually associate with perhaps cheaper products on the market however the C903 is not a particularly cheap phone and I have to say I was surprised that although the device is housed in this plastic case it still manages to maintain a solid, well built quality feel.

Sony Ericsson C903 bottom view

Sony Ericsson C903 bottom view


The C903 is is also somewhat weighty, not as heavy as the C905 but still fairly substantial and from experience this is something I have discovered with allot of Sliders, but overall I was impressed with the look and feel of the C903. As I mentioned the C903 comes in a range of colours and the one I reviewed was the very sleek looking piano gloss black model which I managed to keep surprisingly finger print free.

The Front of the C903 from Sony Ericsson is I think an extremely sleek and stylish looking device it offer clean symmetrical styling which is something I think Sony Ericsson do really well, so often you see a device with cluttered presentation which tends to just look messy. When Open the phone again remains clean and sleek with a brushed silver effect numeric pad which unfortunately for some does not include individual buttons but given the size of each key this should not present the average user with many problems. One thing I will mention is ‘shake’ on some slider when open the display panel can occasional feel loose and shake however with the C903 it feels very secure which just backs up the build quality of this device and although the plastic case hints otherwise the device is clearly a well though through well constructed phone.

Sony Ericsson C903 front view

Sony Ericsson C903 front view


The left side of the C903 continues the clean and sleek style with a simple Sony Ericsson proprietary connection input and although what looks like it should be a M2 memory card slot is in in fact just the Memory type logo allowing you to see where under the cover your card is which as you cannot access it externally seems to me a little pointless.

Sony Ericsson C903 left side

Sony Ericsson C903 left side


The right hand side of the device houses from top to bottom, volume rocker, playback and camera quick launch control and finally the dedicated 2 step shutter button. Again the silver stripe is present which does continue in some form around all sides of the C903.

Sony Ericsson C903 right side

Sony Ericsson C903 right side


The back of the device in true cybershot style features the quick launch lens cover which interestingly spans the length of the phone and slides down away from the shutter button which unlike other phones sets the C903 up for standard landscape shots instead of the phone favoured natural portrait which does make the phone feel allot more like a digital camera than other phones out on the market. The lens is accompanied by a dual LED flash.

c903_back_closed c903_back_open

Sony Ericsson C903 back view



+feature packed high quality camera
+battery life

-no forward facing camera


One of the issues with expanding a line of phones as rapidly as Sony Ericsson seems to be doing with the Cybershot range is that very quickly each new device struggles more and more to set itself apart from the last and this is something I certainly found with the C903. The problem is it does not feel that they have a place in the range and that they may be lacking somewhat when it comes to others for example want a decent camera go for the C905, want decent build quality at a lower price grab a C510 and this is a problem I found throughout using the C903 I just felt almost that I could do better elsewhere however despite this apprehension I decided that as every person deserves a chance so does every mobile phone so on with the review.

First of all style wise although not groundbreaking the C903 is a very decent stylish looking piece of kit, the clean, sleek design lends itself perfectly to the build quality which on a slider phone can often be shaky in more ways than one. The C903 is clearly a well though out phone design wise, buttons are easily accessible and everything is where you would expect it to be. As I mentioned earlier the numeric keypad is something which I am personally not a fan of what I am referring to is that the the C903 does not feature individual keys and although they are large enough to make them easy to use the fact that there is no clear divide between keys does lead to a few slips of the thumb, these keypads will require your full attention leaving very little opportunity for a sly text under the table.

Sony Ericsson C903 keypad

Sony Ericsson C903 keypad


The phone is as with any Sony Ericsson these days extremely simple to use as you would expect from a device like this, menu navigation is effortless and if you have used any Sony Ericsson is the past year I would not bet against you being to able to find your way around the phone with your eyes closed which is not necessarily a bad thing, although the C903 may throw a curve ball or two along the way. One addition to the main menu is the Location Services icon this acts as your HUB as it were for all things navigation, through this you are able to launch services and features such as NearMe, Google Maps, Navigation and the name tracker could possibly fill you with fear however it is in fact a harmless training aid allowing you to track, set and monitor a personal running or walking workout. NearMe was something I really liked on the phone as well, it acts in a similar way to Points of interest on a Satnav offering local attractions from the database. The phone comes bundled with all the Sony Ericsson associated software we have come to expect from simple features such as the organiser, calculator etc. to the more advanced video, photo and music DJ which are always nice to have.

Being a cybershot phone it is important that the device lives up to the name of the Sony Cybershot range. I have never been disappointed by a cybershot shot phone when it comes to the camera and have often found them vastly superior to other camera phones on the market and I am pleased to say that the C903 does not let this record down. It is a 5 megapixel camera with a dual LED flash, on the surface nothing special but they seem to have a knack of getting the best out of every level of camera whether it be 3,5 or 8 megapixel the colours are always fantastic, sharp and defined and ease of use is another big pull for the Sony Ericsson cybershot range.

The C903 camera boasts a massive 16X digital zoom which although is not always the most effective option especially at close range to see it included on a mobile phone is a real bonus, the dual LED flash is great for taking shots in low light situations however something I have found with dual LED flashes is that they do tend to somewhat blinding when used to capture people in your shots, fine for scenery etc. however it almost becomes impossible to capture people without blinding them in the process. Playback allows for quick viewing of your photos enhanced by the C903’s built in accelerometer which can also be used in video playback. TV out is possible with the C903 however Sony Ericsson have not included the relevant cables for a phone costing around £260 is a bit of a disappointment. The usual camera modes and features are present on the C903 including of course macro mode, face detection and auto focus. Geotagging is also included on the device which is yet another fun feature that Sony Ericsson is making a habit of including. One thing that did surprise me as almost every phone I have encountered in the past year have included it is the lack of a forward facing camera meaning the C903 is not capable of video calling which for some may come as a bit of a set back.

Music playback is as you may expect from Sony Ericsson the people behind the walkman range very impressive, the navigation works in much the same way as the walkman range however will not have you stumped if you are unfamiliar with Sony Ericsson devices. Sound quality through headphones is crisp however the old problem of not only the large Sony Ericsson connection but also the fact they insist on placing in on the side of the device which just makes carrying the phone in your pocket an uncomfortable experience. The C903 also included an FM radio and the fantastic track ID and with the M2 card support of up to 16GB the C903 in unlikely to let you down storage wise.

The Sony Ericsson C903 is a 3G device and as a result extremely fast when it comes to web browsing the screen is a fair size and the accelerometer means using the phone to update your facebook status or check you email is an enjoyable experience however heavy usage browsing did become a bit of a problem just because of the amount of information that can be presented on the screen at once compared to the likes of the touch screen devices available today. And of course heavy browsing can impact heavily on battery life, speaking of which the battery life of the C903 in quoted at 10 hours talk time and 400 hours stand by which is highly impressive and although it will differ depending on the usage of the device you will certainly find yourself reaching for the charge less often than you may be used to. It always makes me laugh how the mention of the actual phone doing what a phone should do is now often left to the end of the review but that said the C903 has very clear speaker and I had no problem with muffling or stutter and the speaker is certainly loud enough for those apprentice style moments.



Overall the C903 is yet another solid offering from Sony Ericsson which will not disappoint however I was left as I said earlier feeling as though this phone as good as it is may be slightly unnecessary I feel that the cybershot range has now become a solid bet for those in the market for a new phone, they are all reliable devices which will not let you down and it more a case of pick the one you like the look of, a sad state of affairs or a great move by Sony Ericsson to give the customer a greater choice allowing for a more individual style perfectly matching the personality of the user.


Review by: Nick

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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