The WALKMAN brand has served Sony and especially its mobile division Sony Ericcsson incredibly well recently. Now there's a new WALKMAN branded handset to gaze at: the W850i. Most of previous offerings have been candy bar designs but this time around, Sony Ericsson is trying its hand at a slider.
The W850i is available in either iPod-esque white or smart black. This new model doesn't make much of a leap technologically speaking; it really only offers a sliding version of the existing W810i and with added UMTS (aka 3G) support. Memory capacity is still under the charge of the Memory Stick PRO Duo which now has the capacity to go up to 4GB, although that luxury will still cost you a further £100+.
Other features of the phone include the unique full horizontal camera mode intended to make it feel more like a real camera. It is still the same 2 megapixel, 4x digital zoom camera in there as many current handsets. More interesting is the new Gracenote Mobile MusicID service that allows you to record just a few seconds of a tune - either through the microphone or integrated FM radio - and send it off to the database to have it identified.
It looks like it's still worth holding out for the W950i hard disk phone if you want a serious mobile phone alternative to a dedicated MP3 player, but this is definitely one great looking handset and one that's making me reconsider my W810i.