Watch out for the itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie keypad. Some of you might not be able to live with it.
With every phone manufacturer currently fighting to make slimmer handsets, it's no surprise to see Sony Ericsson joining in. It has always produced classy phones, and Walkman music phones have sold over 17 million worldwide.
The latest handset from the Japanese-Swedish manufacturer, the Sony Ericsson W880i, has married its musical talents with a svelte body. This formula appears geared for mega success, but does Sony Ericsson deliver the promise?
The Sony Ericsson W880i definitely has that tactile wow factor missing from the earlier Walkman phones, with a 9.4mm-thick profile that is thinner than a CD case. It feels incredibly trim, with a front stainless-steel veneer and a rear soft-paint finish adding to its tactile nature. At 71g, the W880i is also feather light. Sony Ericsson has managed to cram the W850i's feature line-up into half the space. This includes 3G capabilities, a MemoryStick Micro slot, a front camera for video calling, a two-megapixel shutterbug and the latest Walkman 2.0 music player.
The Sony Ericsson W880i user interface is intuitive and slick. The 1.8-inch, QVGA-quality display is a little narrow for some. They may have a point if you are a frequent web browser, but for music playing it's just fine.
More worrying is the keypad, which is something of an experiment. We had no problems with the soft and feature keys or the navigation pad. Despite their bijou size, they worked well, with the responsive joypad recalling the design of that used on the W810i. The number keys, however, are petite raised nubs which are extremely fiddly. Speed texting may well prove a problem - we advise that you try before you buy.
The Sony Ericsson W880i is graced with two cameras; a front-loaded lens for video calling and a two-megapixel camera for photography. Video calling quality is pixelated and blighted with image drag, but that's par for the course with most 3G phones. The two-megapixel lens is like those on the Sony Ericsson W850i and Sony Ericsson K610i, so doesn't pack auto-focus and shoots in a 1600x1200 resolution. It doesn't match the likes of the W810i in quality, but is still an admirable performer. Integrated eBlogger software lets you post your pics online almost immediately.
The Sony Ericsson W880i is loaded with the Walkman 2.0 player. It is far slicker both in GUI design and performance than earlier incarnations and includes album artwork. The Walkman series remains the most consummate and impressive music-playing series of phones around and the W880i is no different. The intuitive Disc2phone software to transfer your music from the PC to your phone is seamless and quick over a USB 2.0 connection.
The music player has Mega Bass, Bass, Voice, Treble Boost, Stereo Widening and manual equaliser setting to enhance the sound and you can search your music library through Artists, Albums and Tracks as well as creating playlists on the fly. A 1GB MemoryStick Micro card is supplied which can store around 250 good-quality MP3 tunes.
Music playback time is also generous with Sony Ericsson quoting 18 hours, although this will be compromised a little if you use the phone for other activities. Other neat features include Flight Mode to access the non-network-dependent music player when flying and the music recognition technology TrackID. Hold the phone up to a music source for around 20 seconds and it will identify the song through the Gracenote Mobile MusicID database, via text message. It even packs stereo Bluetooth capabilities. The W880i has everything covered.