Sony Ericsson – W880i review

stunningly slim and light phone
Photo of Sony Ericsson – W880i
£free, depending on contract

If you like your mobile phones thin and light, then the W880i Walkman phone from Sony Ericsson is definitely going to catch your eye. It is a mere 9.4mm thick and it weighs an incredible 71g.

Our review sample was styled in orange and black (a silver and black variant is also available) and it looks absolutely stunning. Start counting the features and you’ll continue to be impressed. Quad-band GSM, 3G with two-way video calling and the usual Sony Walkman capability are the headlines features. You get a serviceable stereo headset, with a 3.5mm connector just past the microphone so you can use your own earphones if you prefer to.

The phone comes with software and a cable for sharing data with your PC, and in this case that means both calendar and contacts synchronising and automatic copying of music to the handset – a service which can change the bit-rate on the fly to keep file size down.

But look under the headlines and there are some significant annoyances with this handset. You might not mind the 1.8-inch screen, though it is rather small. And you may be OK with the absence of an FM radio.

You may mind more the fact that Sony Ericsson has chosen to use absolutely tiny keys, and while in some cases the system works well, the number keys are the smallest we’ve ever seen. At just a millimetre tall and 6 millimetres wide we found them to be simply too small to grapple with for fast texting. The fact that their orange colouring stands very proud of their black background means these keys look nice, but it does nothing for usability.

This is particularly annoying as the other front keys are all well spaced and (relatively) easy to work with, and the navigation key even has ridges on the top and bottom to help you use it efficiently.

There is just 16MB of memory in the phone itself. Our review sample, which came courtesy of T-Mobile, was supplied with a 1GB Memory Stick Micro card. This slots into the left edge of the casing and allows you to carry a fair amount of music around, but still, we’d have liked more internal storage too

There is a handset design problem associated with the memory card in that its slot is very close to the connector that is shared by earphones and mains power, and when it’s in use you can’t get to your memory card.

From a full battery charge we got a little over five hours of continuous music, which is not as much as we’d like from a phone designed to replace our standalone music player.

The camera, too, is a bit disappointing. Capable of a maximum stills resolution of 2 megapixels it is not at the leading edge, but has a base specification that shouldn’t cause too many heads to turn away. However, without a flash, self-portrait mirror or auto-focus it is somewhat hampered, and we found it let us down in terms of both colour reproduction and detail.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Contact: 08705 237237

The W880i certainly looks appealing, and if a super-thin phone is what you need then it may appeal. But taken all round it is more average than leading light. Anyone with a penchant for fast texting should try before they buy.