3GSM 2006: hands on with the Sony Ericsson W950

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Hang on a minute haven’t we seen this phone before? Yep the latest Walkman handset from Sony Ericsson, the W950, is in fact a re-dress of the M600 smartphone SE unveiled last week. There are few differences between the two, which we’ll get to in a minute but the chasis is pretty much identical.

The big story here is that the phone has four Gigabytes of flash memory storage built in. This means that user can stock up the handset with MP3, AAC and the phone friendly AAC+ format. SE also claims that it is the first handset that will display cover art. Apparently if Gracenote grabs the artwork it pops up on the handset’s lovely screen. The phone sounds excellent too, far superior to the first generation of Walkman phones which were a little disappointing. SE is to ship the phone with standard earphones but users can buy an A2DP Bluetooth system for wireless streaming.

Also on board are a shed load of smartphone facilities and our favourite new feature for 2006 an RSS reader. Just like the M600 the phone is also very light and thin and is operated using either a menu interface controlled by a jog wheel or via touch.

The bad part is that the 950 is missing a few facilities. Firstly there’s no storage card slot – so 4 Gigs is your lot. Bizarrely for a funky consumer phone the model doesn’t include a camera. SE has also ditched the QWERTY keyboard of the M600 and offered standard slightly iffy keys. SE is also sticking with its existing and not especially intuitive software, though the connection between the phone and PC is now USB 2.0 which makes loading it up with tracks much faster.

Overall this is a classy looking phone and it is sure to tempt music lovers, however it doesn’t launch until Q3, so even though that 4 Gig storage looks pretty good now, by then phones with 10 Gigs, Samsung has one on the cards apparently, could be available. It certainly isn’t an iPod killer, but at the moment it is far and away the most desirable music phone we have seen so far.

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5 comments

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