After wowing us with the wonderfully sleek lines of the C902, Sony Ericsson has done a complete volte-face with its latest Cyber-shot member. Not only has the rugged, mid-range C702 been pumped with protein shakes, it’s been given street smarts with a built-in GPS receiver.

Tough enough?

In fact, apart from a tactile rubberised rear battery cover (it will take a professional safebreaker to prize this baby off), a screw cover lock and a slightly overly solid torso, it feels like your averagely built handset.

It may be a slight softie but the C702 is still a treat to use. An intuitive identikit Sony Ericsson UI is joined by a prominently raised keypad for accurate thumbing and a five-way joypad sporting an outer rail for added grip.

The camera is a slight disappointment though. Considering LG has shaken up the budget camphone market by launching the 5megapixel KC550, the C702’s autofocus-enabled 3.2MP lens seems a bit old hat. And it doesn’t have a capable flash either, so forget about a blinding Xenon or a power LED and ready yourself for insipid photo light.

Camera shortcuts

We have to admit we were expecting something like the K810i’s camera set-up but, while the C702 does offer new capable Face Detection voodoo, it’s been stripped of the BestPic technology. However, the 3, 6, 9 and # keypad buttons do handily double as shortcuts, a la K810i, to change flash, scene, timer and shoot settings when in camera mode.

At this mid-range 3.2megapixel level, picture quality is good as can be expected and the C702 will reel off some decent shots in good light. Just don’t rely on the anaemic flash to evenly illuminate indoor low-level lightning environments.

Sluggish sat-nav

The C702 is Sony Ericsson’s second A-GPS-enabled handset, following on from the W760i. Like its Walkman stable mate, it struggled to sniff out a fix from a cold start and we found the signal dipped from time to time, but otherwise its performance was measured.

The on-board Google Maps is poised for rudimentary location-based action but if you’re prepared to pay beyond the three-month free trial, you can get more advanced sat-nav with the embedded Wayfinder Navigator 7 software. A one-year subscription for the UK and Ireland region will set you back £40 or £48 for three years.

If the C702 was clad in the JCB Toughphone’s impenetrable armadillo-esque armour then it would be far and away the best rugged phone we’ve seen. Instead it’s a slightly hard, above average mid-ranger that unfortunately fails to excite.


Stuff says... 

Sony Ericsson C702 review

Not as tough as its rugged rivals but a solid if slightly dull mid-range camphone