Review: Sony Ericsson W880i – super thin 3G phone

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se_w880i.jpgThe propaganda

If your image of 3G phones is super bulky handsets, then Sony Ericsson’s W880i will make you think again. It measures just a tiny 9.4mm thick – thin enough to fit inside a CD case according to the accompanying blurb.

Despite its small size, it’s still feature packed with a built in 2 megapixel camera, Walkman music player, a 1GB MemoryStick Micro for storing tunes and photos, Bluetooth and a nifty utility called TrackID that tries to recognise any music you play it by sending a sample to the internet and bringing back the results.

The good

Design-wise it’s a stylish looking handset, finished off in brushed metal effect plastic – orange at the back, carbon black at the front.

The menu system is the standard Sony Ericsson fair, so whether you’re a seasoned user or newcomer you shouldn’t have any problems finding your way around. The layout is logical, with most items where you’d expect to find them.

Image quality from the camera is passable, with snaps good enough for sending to friends or emailing around.

The bundled earphones are noise isolation style ear buds that block out all external sound, creating decent bass. If you find them a bit intrusive, then you can attach your own to the 3.5mm socket on the hands free kit, which sensibly attaches at the side, rather than bottom, of the unit so you can leave it plugged in your pocket.

The bad

Sleek design is one thing, but it seems that some usability aspects have suffered to accommodate the W880i’s good looks.

First up is the keyboard – the main keypad buttons have been replaced by thin horizontal strips, rather than full keys, making them awkward to use. The four-way navigation pad is fine for moving around, but to select an item you need to push straight down, which can be difficult at times.

The main camera lens on the rear of the unit is also positioned too close to the left hand edge when you’re using the phone horizontally, making it tricky to take snaps without your fingers in and hold the camera at the same time.

Geek Sheet

Connectivity: 3G, 900/1800/1900MHz GSM, Bluetooth (with A2DP), USB

Internal memory: 16MB, 1GB MemoryStick Micro

Display: 1.8in, 240×320 pixels

Camera: 2.0 megapixel

POP3 email client

Battery: 6 hours 30 minutes talk time, 425 hours standby

Dimensions: 46.5x103x9.4 mm

Overview

The W880i is a sleek, small 3G handset but what it makes up for on style it loses in usability. It’s not that it’s impossible to use, just that it’ll take some time to get used to before you’re fully up to speed.

It’s got decent multimedia credentials and surprisingly good sound from the bundled headset. The TrackID music recognition utility is a nifty add-on, though you’re unlikely to use it that much once the novelty wears off.

If you can live with its input idiosyncrasies, though, with prices starting from free with contact it’s a good looking, feature packed multimedia mobile.

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Related sites: Sony Ericsson W880i

Will Head