Sony Ericsson W910i review

Can a shaker make a difference?

TechRadar Verdict

A beautiful little music phone and much more that makes all the right moves


  • +

    Genuinely excellent music player

    Slimline style

    3G with HSDPA


  • -

    Gimmicky shake feature

    Underpowered camera

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Nokia may be pushing its new music service, and Apple's iPhone has at last arrived in the UK, so Sony Ericsson definitely has a fight on its hands as its iconic Walkman range battles for the mobile music high ground.

But if it's true that the latest Walkman incarnation doesn't do anything wrong, it's no lie to say that it doesn't really do enough to push the series to the front either.

Which isn't to say the W910i isn't a great phone, it's just that in the evolve-or-die world of music phones, the old orange and black styling and impressively efficient if no longer so sexy Walkman engine will need a serious update soon if it's going to keep up with the fast-shifting competition.

Perhaps the soon-to-come W960i will be the one to move the series forward in the mobile music race, but in the meantime, the slimline W910i serves as a very attractive little placekeeper. It comes in Sony Ericsson's standard Walkman black 'n' orange trim, though Vodafone has an exclusive gold-look 'Havana' version and red ones are available from 3, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Orange.

It follows the size zero trend started by the W880i but this time it's a slider, and they've managed to keep it to just 12.5mm. The slide is spring-loaded and robust with a satisfying click on opening and closing - you get the impression it will go the distance.

The buttons on the outside of the phone - including the soft keys, start and stop, plus the dedicated Walkman and power on keys on top and the silver D-pad that doubles as navigation and music controls - are all titchy, though they're sensitive enough not to cause problems.

The slide-out keypad, on the other hand, is nice and chunky, though it's very smooth and would have benefited from a more obvious marker for the middle key to help your thumb find its way around.

The handset comes with a 1GB Memory Stick Micro supplied, which slots in the side, and also included is a USB adaptor, so you can add tunes, videos or pics directly from your (or anyone else's) PC without the need to sync your phone. The charging and headphone socket has moved from the bottom to the side for this model, which is fine, but it feels a bit awkward when you're wired for sound.

Speaking of which, the music player has a new-look interface which will look familiar to PSP users and includes menu headings for Podcasts and Audio Books. It syncs with Windows Media Player too, which all helps to make your iPod just that little bit less essential.

The sound it typically better than average through the supplied headphones and there's stereo Bluetooth A2DP too, allowing you to listen via wireless headphones if you're that way inclined.

Sony Ericsson makes much of the 'shake control', which allows you to switch tracks by shaking the phone like a Polaroid picture. Tilt it to the right to go to the next track, tilt left for the previous track and activate the random function by giving it a hearty shake back and forth.

Sounds interesting, and it no doubt uses some very clever technology, but in reality, it's more hassle than it's worth, since you have to press down the dedicated Walkman button on top and unlock the controls before you shake - it's much easier to just press the FWD button on the D-pad.

More useful is the accelerometer that automatically switches the orientation of the screen depending on which way up you're holding it, á la the iPhone. It switches pretty quickly too, after just a second or two, so you don't have to think about it too much.

There's also at least one game (Marble Madness 3D) which allows you to control the gameplay by tilting the handset.

SensMe is an odd little feature, which allows you to select your tracks depending on what sort of mood you're in. Each tune is shown as a point on a four-way graph divided by the axes happy, Sad, Fast and Slow. You then use the D-pad to find the best track to suit your mood. Fun to use and practical too.

This is clearly a music-centred phone, but we were still surprised that Sony Ericsson has stuck with a 2 megapixel camera. It's perfectly fine, with a range of features for taking and editing photos, and it's also very easy to use in Sony Ericsson's established method of flipping the phone and turning it on its side to put the shutter button on top.

The 262K-colour screen shows your pics to their best advantage, but these days, 3 megapixels seems like the minimum for a mid to high-end phone like this.

Overall though, it's a lovely little phone, packed with features, including fast HSDPA 3G if your network supports it, video calling, Java games, TrackID, FM radio, SE's easy blogging partnership with and more. The competition is closing fast, but for now, Walkman is still leading the music phone race.

Looks: 8

Ease of use: 9

Features: 8

Call quality: 9

Value: 8

Overall rating: 86%

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