Sony Ericsson has become a stronger and better competitor in the mobile phone industry over the past few years, releasing more feature-rich phones that are making the company well known. Their w800i Walkman phone is no exception. It is a stunning piece of gadgetry that runs with a pretty high price tag, around $450 for an unlocked version of the phone. It’s well worth it though, as the Sony Ericsson w800i will replace your digital camera for most occasions, grind your iPod use to a halt, and will even get you back into mobile gaming.
Features and Design
I’m sure you’re dying to know the specs on this orange beauty. The Sony Ericsson w800i is a cowboy not to be reckoned with. We are talking about some serious firepower here! The w800i is a tri-band GSM “candy bar” phone with a stunning 262k-color screen that runs at a 320×240 resolution. The camera is one of the better in the cell phone world at a whopping 2.0 mega-pixels that will blow older digital cameras out of the water. The phone has 38MB of integrated memory, but comes with a 512MB Sony Memory Stick Duo card to keep your songs and pictures on. An integrated web browser, plenty of video games and Walkman software make this phone one of the best available to the consumer today. You’ll also find things like Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and dedicated music controls on the side of the phone. Wonderful stuff.
The first thing noticeable about the w800i phone is that it is pretty sleek. It has a bright candy orange color that makes you fall in love with it right away. Flip it over before you even turn it on and you’ll notice that the camera actually has a lens cover with a switch. You’ll instantly feel like a photographer when snapping pictures with the w800i and the results will impress you. Looking at the front of the phone, you’ll notice the left side has a play/pause button for listening to music and at the bottom-left, a slot for a Sony Memory Stick Duo memory card. The right side features dedicated volume control for the music you’ll be listening to, as well as a shutter button for taking pictures on its camera. The phone also has 2 generic-function buttons with a dedicated Walkman button in the center for going right to your music. Below the Walkman button you’ll find a back-button, a joystick for selection, and a clear-button; other then that, there’s your basic 12-button keypad, which is quite comfortable and easy to use.
Image Courtesy of Sony Ericsson
Testing and Use
Navigating through the interface on the w800i is a pleasant experience and I did not experience any troubles at all. The joystick helps you get through everything quickly and is great for gaming. The dedicated Walkman button helps you go straight to your music collection right when you need it and sorts your music by Artist, Track, Play list, and Video. When you open the lens cover of the camera, it automatically assumes you want to take a picture or video and goes right to the camera-interface. This interface looks and works just like a regular digital camera with low-light adjustments, the ability to use an extremely bright flash and other filters among things.
So let’s discuss this camera a little more. A 2.0 mega-pixel camera in a cell phone is a wonderful thing. I haven’t used my Canon a400 Powershot in a while now that I have this w800i. The camera lets you flip the phone on its side where a dedicated shutter button lays. You then can use the phone like a true camera using the 262k-color screen as a beautiful viewfinder. Video comes out pretty decent in the right conditions and is probably as good as you’re going to get for a while as far as cell phones go. However, the w800i shines with stills. The quality is unbeatable, hands down. If it’s dark, you can use the amazingly bright LED-flash to keep your picture quality high. I have actually used my w800i to take pictures with, gone right to a local camera shop, taken out the 512MB Memory Stick Duo card, and gotten 4×6 prints made. The result? Amazing prints that you could never tell were taken on a cell phone; keep in mind it won’t fool a photography buff though. The w800i’s camera is seriously it’s best feature that makes everything else pale in comparison.
Music and Audio Capabilities
But enough about the camera, what about the music? This is a Walkman phone after all. The music functionality is great. You use the included USB cable to transfer files / music to the w800i with either Sony’s software or just as a removable USB drive. Since I use all Macs, I used the latter and found it was very easy to do with all the folders laid out clearly for me to navigate through. The only problem here is that it’s USB 1.1 and not 2.0. This makes music-transfer a bit slow, but bearable by all means. Once you load up your favorite tunes, you can browse them by artist, track, or play list. Formats accepted include MP3, WAV, and AAC, so you’ll be fine with most of your music. Videos can be played back too and look wonderful on the crisp LCD screen.
The included headphones include a microphone for talking on the phone while you pause your music. The ear bud-style headphones fit great and sound awesome. Even if you don’t like them, Sony has included the standard 3.5mm adaptor for using your own headphones. Navigating the UI is easy with the joystick Sony Ericsson has provided and playback works without a hitch. If you forget headphones, the built-in speaker is loud and sounds good if you want to share a song with your friends, but don’t go relying on it. You will not need to bring your iPod along with this phone. It is not meant to become a total iPod-replacement due to storage limitations, but if you’re only going to be out listening to music for an hour or so, you’re fine.
The battery life has to be pretty amazing to handle all this multimedia going on and we found it to be excellent with the w800i and you’ll find you only need to charge it after a day of listening non-stop to your music. Otherwise, you can probably go 2 or 3 days without having to recharge it. If you’re skipping music playback altogether, you’ll get plenty of talk time and standby time from this phone. You can always check the percentage of your battery life on the phone easily which gives you an exact idea of how much longer you’ll have to play games and text message your friends.
The software included on the w800i features a web browser, which is pretty decent, though nothing amazing. You can install something such as Opera Mini (http://mini.opera.com/) to enhance the experience, but it’s not necessary. The games included on the w800i are fine, but one stands out above all others: Quadrapop. Quadrapop is a Tetris-like game where you match up musical notes of the same color to pop them and score points. This is seriously an addictive game that has had my girlfriend and me rivaling to see who can get the highest score (yours truly still holds that honor). Never has mobile gaming been so much fun, so lots of thanks to Sony-Ericsson for “reviving” this genre of gaming. You’ll also find applications like a world clock, organization tools, and a file manager. The file manager is great for easily finding your recently taken pictures and videos and makes the experience with the w800i much more enjoyable.
As far as phone calls go, I use my T-Mobile account with this phone. The call quality is great and I can hear my conversation perfectly when outside. However, it is not the strongest phone as far as reception goes. The w800i doesn’t get lousy reception all the time, but it doesn’t get great reception. You’ll find yourself going outside for calls once in awhile if you live in a basement or any other area that’s well hidden; but other then that, it’s fine. Compared to Nokia, it’s laughable, but Nokia has yet to do anything amazing like this phone.
To compare this phone to other phones is blasphemy. This phone rivals high-end phones such as the Nokia N90, Motorola RAZR, and Samsung A-900. A 2.0 mega-pixel camera with that famous Walkman functionality? Unbeatable. I have yet to find a phone with the w800i’s size that features great functionality paired with excellent features. Perhaps in 2006 we’ll see something that could truly rival this phone.
This is by far my favorite phone ever. The two main problems with it are slow-USB transfer rates and sometimes you are likely to get poor reception. These are overlooked by the tons of great features the w800i has to offer. If you’ve been looking for an all-in-one device with cell phone capability, this is it. Forget the PDA unless you’re the business-type, you need this phone. The price tag is high, but you’ll see why it’s worth it in the end when you start using your iPod and digital camera less and less. Don’t wait for another phone when you can get this one right now. You won’t regret it.
- Awesome 2.0 mega-pixel camera
- Walkman functionality
- Great UI
- Brilliant Display
- Mediocre reception
- USB 2.0 not included