The Sony Ericsson J300a is compact enough to please even the most size-conscious user. Measuring 3.9 by 1.7 by 0.7 inches and weighing just 2.75 ounces, it fits into the smallest pockets and is no more noticeable in a bag than a pack of gum. Available in Sensitive White, Plucky Pink, or Midnight Gray (we tested the white version), this phone casts a slim but eye-catching profile with a distinctive looped antenna on the top of the back face. Despite its slim weight, the J300a felt solid in our hands, but flip-phone fans may not appreciate holding such a small phone to their face.
Since the Sony Ericsson J300a is so petite, we weren't surprised that the display measured a small 1.5 inches diagonally. That said, the screen looks surprisingly bright and crisp, with support for 65,536 colors. Yet, we're miffed about the fact that you can change only the backlighting time; plus, the J300a doesn't let you adjust the screen's font size or show its brightness. Such a small display makes gaming tedious, but it works fine for the user-friendly menus. The navigation controls, however, are a different story. Extremely small and cramped, the controls are too close together and will be a true source of frustration for anyone with large fingers. When using the five-way joystick, which doubles as a shortcut to the menus and four user-defined functions, we consistently steered in the wrong direction or pressed the two soft keys, the Clear button, or the Back key by mistake.
The keypad buttons are also cramped, but since they are raised above the surface of the phone, we had a better-than-expected time using them. The keys are also lit by a bright backlight, so it's easy to dial in the dark. We're disappointed by the absence, however, of any external shortcut keys. Since there's no side volume rocker, you have to take the phone away from your head while on a call to adjust the sound via the joystick. What's more, you must enter a menu and select the Speaker option (five clicks in a call) after you've placed a call, even though there is a speakerphone.
The Sony Ericsson J300a's feature set is spartan, but that's not a bad thing. There's a 510-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a Web address, a street address, business title and company, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts). There's photo caller ID too, but since the J300a has no camera, you must download the images or receive them in a multimedia message. You can also organize contacts into groups and pair them with one of 22, 40-chord polyphonic ring tones. Other features include a vibrate mode, the aforementioned speakerphone, a voice recorder, a calendar with PC-syncing capability, a task list, a notepad, an alarm clock, a timer, a stopwatch, a calculator, text and multimedia messaging, and a unit converter.
You can personalize the Sony Ericsson J300a with a variety of wallpaper, screensavers, or color themes. If you don't like the options included on the phone, you can download more choices with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. You can also get more ring tones or compose your own with the MusicDJ composer. Gamers get just two Java (J2ME) titles, Darts and Fighters, but you can always download more.
We tested the dual-band Sony Ericsson J300a (GSM 850/1900; GPRS) in San Francisco using Cingular's network. Call quality was admirable with solid clarity and volume. Callers said they could hear us, and we encountered little trouble from other electronics equipment. The speakerphone, however, sounded quite muffled; the speaker is on the back of the phone, so you'll be wise to lay the phone facedown when making a speakerphone call. Battery life was acceptable; we beat the rated talk time of 7 hours by an extra hour and managed six days of standby time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the J300a has a digital SAR rating of 1.12 watts per kilogram.