First look: Sony Ericsson W660i Walkman phone

Mobile Choice is incredibly fond of Sony Ericsson's Walkman phone range and we're always thrilled to get our mitts on the manufacturer's latest music handset. But just lately, the excitement has gone a tad flat. If you exclude the higher end 8GB-packing W960i and the HSDPA shake control W910i slider, the recent editions to the Walkman clan have just been refreshes of the previous handsets. We recently reviewed the W610i, a phone we very much liked but essentially was just a tweaked and slightly souped up W810i. Similarly the phone gracing our pockets right now, the 3G-enabled W660i is the W850i slider melted into candybar form or even a pumped-up W880i. With 25-30 million Walkman phones sold worldwide Perhaps we can't blame Sony Ericsson for not want to stray from a successful formula for its mid range music handset.

To put a spin on an otherwise familiar looking handset, Sony Ericsson is billing the W660i as a designer Walkman phone. Where as the W880i broke the mould with its incredibly gossamer 9.4mm profile, the W660i sadly returns to the well-worn signature candybar format. It's still quite trim at 14.5mm thick and well constructed and Sony Ericsson has introduced two coloured models to appeal to a male and female audience. The Record Black model rocks up with bling bling gold trim and a subtle circular pattern that mimics the grooves on a vinyl record. The ladies model breaks Walkman black/white/silver tradition and comes sprayed in a Rose Red veneer with an etched floral motif on the rear. These flourishes are obviously what give the W660i its designer tag.

Sony Ericsson has abandoned the tiny lozenge tab buttons recently introduce on the W880i and W610i and returned to a standard button keypad arrangement. The buttons are nicely sized with a soft rubber texture and primed for speed texting. The navigation pad and soft keys follow the same design as the like of the W610i, W810i and W880i, with the pad doubling as the music players controls when in music mode, plus a dedicated Walkman player button and an Activity Menu button to easily access shortcuts, the internet, running apps and your appointments.

Walkman phones, and Sony Ericsson handsets in general, are always incredibly approachable and lucid to use and the W660i doesn't differ on jot in the user-friendly stakes from past Walkman phone. One disappointment is the resolution of the display. We assumed its would be QVGA quality (320x240 pixels) like the W850i and W880i but it only stretches to 176x220 pixels. It's not a massive but to the keener eye you can tell it lacks crisp detail.

As always the case with Sony Ericsson Walkman phones first impressions are positive. The W660i has a little bit more sparkle in terms of its design from its fellow tunemiesters but perhaps not really enough to really stand out in a Walkman line-up. Still, the Walkman series reputation is based on its built-in music player and we're expecting the W660i to play out like its other band members. But to see if does cut the music mustard look out for our next instalment of the W660i review.

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Mobile Choice

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