» Sony Ericsson P990i Finally Arrives

By ivc at 20:31, August 20, 2006

P990 Close-up
On friday morning this week, I finally got the sought after phone-pda I’ve been waiting for to be released, the Sony Ericsson P990i. And I was more astonished than I thought I would be. The form-factor is just perfect, just small enough, or big enough if you want, and with a really good touch screen. With battery installed it’s pretty light considering. I liked the QWERTY-keyboard, the keys are a tad smaller than imagined but yet usable. The build quality is top notch, and I haven’t found a fault with it yet. I won’t list the full feature list here, but take a look at the Sony Ericsson page for all the details.

  • P990 Firmware versionsModel number: DPY1011472/28 (FI SV)
  • Manufacturer date: 06W31 (30th July – 5th August 2006)
  • Firmware versions:
    Phone R4B – Bluetooth R4F01 – Organizer R2A04 – CDA R2A01

  • Made in France
  • Battery: BST-33 (950 mAh)
  • Manual is in color and seems professional printed, in swedish and finnish
  • Included Norwegian language pack (not using it) among others
  • Free main memory after boot: 15.9 MB
  • Unit from swedish P990 batch, made available on 10th August
  • Price incl VAT: NOK 5505 / €704 / £482 / $901

The phone was available in Sweden two weeks before I got it, but in very limited stock. If I had choosen the right shipping option I would probably have had it saturday last week or monday. Logicaly it would be faster to pick the unit up locally at the place where it was in stock, right? Not quite this time. The stock was not located at the local office but in a facility in Sweden and they would send it straight to the customer from there. That would’ve saved my several phone calls, one trip to their office, in Ã…mli, and I wouldn’t had to anxiously wait some extra days for the phone to pop up. Anyway, I finally got it.

There are of course quite some problems and bugs with the phone since it’s a new platform for Sony Ericsson to develop on (Symbian 9.1 / UIQ3). And 10 months after the announcement, one would think they would’ve thoroughly tested it, apparently not so. Symbian 9.1 was first stable as late as April/May, and then SE started to implement it. A great few of bugs can probably be tracked back to the low free main memory, 15 MB of total 64 MB. The phone is responsive and fast, but there is some slugginess in some situations, like when checking IMAP inbox, doing something while the wlan is connecting, or running more than 3-4 big applications (Mediaplayer, Messaging and Web). I’ve got two kernexec errors and two spontaneous ‘Reboot for better performance’ reboots, but that’s after almost contiunous usage the past two days. Although no low memory warnings during that time. Some of the bugs I’ve came across can be found in the list I compiled below, and the others can be tracked in the easto forum thread.

It’s a perfect phone but there are some annoyances. If you haven’t had time to use the phone yourself I think you’ll probably focus more on the bugs than the phone deserves, not realizing that the phone is actually quite usable and stable. That’s at least my experience.

  • Lighter than thought
  • Smaller qwerty-keyboard buttons than imagined
  • Fast enough
  • Still wow factor after reading about it for 7 months
  • Camera shutter button maybe a bit deep/hard
  • Smooth camera door
  • Small gap between screen and case might collect dust
  • Streaming music cannot be in background (using video player)
  • Miss an option to disable theme animations
  • Battery cover hard to remove
  • Perfect size for wearing in jeans pocket
  • Opera browser doesn’t remember settings, i.e fit to screen off (configurations works fine)
  • In flip open mode missing an easy way to check free memory
  • Would like shortcuts in opera using the qwerty-keyboard
  • Smooth simoultanous switch between wlan, bluetooth, 3g and gprs internet connection, prioritized
  • Pre-made account for hotspot wlan connections (DefaultWifiAccount)
  • Actually haven’t had any serious problems with low memory (unless mediaplayer, web and messaging is open)
  • Self-signed applications allowed
  • In open flip mode, task manager icon could be larger and easier to access (used for multitasking)
  • Love the ability to stream live realaudio/video
  • Cool integration between Opera and RSS reader
  • Not 30 fps in 320×240 video recording, should be supported by systemchip
  • Camera settings option-marker is a bit small, hard to see current setting while ‘in the field’
  • File download via Opera is fast, 6295KB finished in 47s and 3040KB finished in 23s, which is equal to 133KB/s
  • Data transfer logs are inaccurate, total amount of data send and received is way off
  • Spontanous corruption and complete wipe-out of data in Messaging
  • Some low volume audio distortion when media player is activated, cracks and pops
  • Continued below…

The phone will be supported by Sony Ericsson for a long time and new firmwares will hopefully fix most problems I and others have with the phone at the moment. It’s not even available in other countries and in some network brand stores.

The first firmware update after the retail units hit the stores came out today (saturday). I’ve not upgraded yet because I would like to get to know the current firmware version and have a better feeling what’s different after I upgrade.

Update 21th Aug:
P990 retail firmware versionsToday, 21th, I updated to the latest P990 firmware and generally it works well. There have been some quirks but overall it’s faster and more stable. This are the new versions:

  • Phone: R5A006
  • Bluetooth: R4F01
  • Organizer: R3A04
  • CDA: R3A03

Since there aren’t any official change log or release notes, it’s difficult to find out what’s changed. The list below shows some of the changes I noticed.

  • Updated default theme
  • Some updated icons
  • New design on some slidebar options
  • Opera browser starts faster
  • More input options, predict text for either flip open or closed
  • New internet wizard in connections control panel
  • System response is better
  • New RSS icon in Opera when available on website
  • Update: Found to be wrong – URL input in Opera now begins with first letter low-case
  • Virtual keyboard is always available in system bar

New problems encountered caused by firmware update:

  • Update: Found to be wrong – URL entry by default begins with digits, need to press alt to disable blue keys
  • Some video capturing saving errors
  • Activity menu crashes when adding new shortcuts in flip open mode

Other annoyances, might not be related to the new firmware:

  • Realaudio files start to chop after a 4-5 minutes (tried live audio (Radio1) and 2 hour long recordings, might not be indexed)
  • Cumbersome way to end processes, no ‘Exit’-button in most application
  • After pausing a video clip, navigating the menus is way more snappy and responsive (gfx accelerator?)
  • Media player hangs when moving slider forward on large/long files, 288 Kbit/s, 1.5 hour
  • Volume slider in Media player is vertical when in full screen mode

Update 5th Sept:
P990 Firmware Update R7AToday another update for the P990i was relased by Sony Ericsson. Seems they prioritize the P990i now since the M600i haven’t received an update for some time. Pretty resonable though, considering the phone will be available again for people to just go to their favorite mobilephone shop and pick one up. It took a mere 15 minutes to apply the update and the new firmware versions are:

  • Phone: R7A001
  • Bluetooth: R4F01
  • Organizer: R3B01
  • CDA: R3B01

To do the update without the flip, you only need to hold the C-key on the QWERTY-keyboard. Works as well as the ‘normal’ flip closed C-key. After the update the first boot takes about 85 seconds before you hit the language menu. The boot after that takes about 35 seconds before you hit the flight mode menu. Det default date when started is 25th August, possible compile date if firmware.

New things I’ve noticed with the new firmware:

  • Interface feels somewhat faster, especially after disabling handwriting


  • Music stops and skips when opening applications and doing operations, maybe caused by new memory managment system
  • No easy way to go straight to new sms message when they arrive, tidious

Update 2nd January 2007:
New firmware finally released, this update should fix most of the problems people have experienced since the launch.

  • Phone: R9EA001
  • Bluetooth: R5A01
  • Organizer: R4A13
  • CDA: R4A09

I have a dedicated Sony Ericsson Mobilephones page here. You can view the picture gallery here.

» Responses to “Sony Ericsson P990i Finally Arrives”:

  1. jeffrey says:

    hi there,

    i cant get my 990i updated….the update softwre keep sayin my phone is up to date.

    pls help


  2. ivc says:

    Hi, the current firmware version for the phone part is R5A006. Make sure that you don’t already have this version installed. Go to Main Menu and System Information.

  3. MEST0R says:


  4. ROHIT says:


  5. Hans says:

    Dear ivc,

    Re Your comment:”Other annoyances, might not be related to the new firmware:

    * Realaudio files start to chop after a 4-5 minutes (tried live audio (Radio1) and 2 hour long recordings, might not be indexed) ”

    I have now tried several days to overcome the problem that a a live audio streaming via wifi drops out/stops after about 5 min. I activate the
    real player as per the radio website “www.abc.net.au” (classic FM)

    I have the latest frimware I believe
    Phone: R9F011
    Bluetooth R5A01

    Any assistance would be much appreciated
    Thanks Hans

  6. p990i man says:

    hi just thought to let you know my firmware….

    Phone: CXC162037 R9EC001
    Bluetooth: CXC162058 R5A01
    Organiser: CXC162036 R4B03
    CDA: CDAA162008/91 R5A02

    please let me know if i can upgrade my phone because at the mo the phone hangs during a call and many times during texting and also when in my pocket!! lol

    its like it got a mind of its own.

    also a message comes up saying in the lines of, insufficient memory available. phone will restart now.


    soo irritating.

    i love this phone, if someone can help me please point me in the correct direction.

    my email is: example_111@hotmail.co.uk

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