Sony Ericsson W910i Mobile Phone - Review

Sony Ericsson W910i Mobile Phone - Review

Sony Ericsson W910i - ReviewThe Walkman series is a huge success for the Japanese-Swedish phone-maker and it's not difficult to see why. One of the latest in the lineup is the W910i which sports a new media-browsing interface, built-in sensor motion for both music and games, and is backed by a strong suite of cellular connectivity features. Two colors are available for the W910i--Hearty Red and Noble Black--at a current retail of S$798 (US$525) without plan.

Design of the Sony Ericsson W910i Mobile Phone

Though Sony Ericsson is not best known for its slider designs, we had no issues with the sliding mechanism of this music phone. It slides up smoothly and in a controlled manner to reveal a numeric keypad. At 12.5mm, it is extremely slim and weighs a mere 86g. Like most of the recent Sony Ericsson handsets, the W910i drops the Return key and sports Call/End keys instead.

Like the Sony Ericsson W550i, the W910i also comes with two tiny additional buttons on both sides of the earpiece above the LCD screen. While we didn't find any assigned use for the two buttons in the preinstalled games, we did find them useful as shortcut keys to the image library from the main menu. In the camera mode, the two gaming buttons double as camera control keys.

Sony Ericsson W910i - KeypadThe tapered design of the W910i's bottom area has pros and cons. The good thing is the top row of the numeric keys has more "breathing space" for the thumbs during typing. However, this design on the bottom slab also means its single connector has to be placed elsewhere. This is found on its left side, a placement we felt was not ideal. Headphones should ideally be jacked into a phone or music player from the top or bottom, so the device can be placed in a pocket comfortably.

We normally expect keys on slider keypads to be flushed with the phone's body, a necessity because you don't want raised keys to block the closing action. While the W910i's keys provide sufficient relief, we felt that the three-column layout does not give enough distinction between keys in the vertical direction. It may have been a better idea to have smaller keys but with each one separated, with a divider, from the adjacent one.

While some people may find the W910i a tad too wide, one of the key advantages of this form factor is really a more comfortable fit to the face when making phone calls. More importantly, the W910i also comes with a large and crisp QVGA display that certainly makes it ideal for watching videos as well as playing games in landscape viewing mode. A useful built-in light sensor just beside the right control key helps to automatically adjust the brightness of the screen when the phone is used in different lighting environments.

Those who plan to access the battery or SIM will have to take note. The battery cover is locked in place by a tiny plastic catch which should not be too difficult to break. Fortunately, the M2 card slot is located on its own just below the volume control keys.

Sony Ericsson W910i - Back and Camera

Features of the Sony Ericsson W910i Mobile Phone

Bearing the Walkman brand, this phone has to deliver when it comes to music. A Walkman button is found along its top edge to quickly access the tracks, though we find it too small for our liking. It's even harder to reach it with the slider up.

A motion sensor has been built into the W910i as well. This not only allows the user to control playback by shaking the handset, but also changes the orientation of the screen automatically in the media browser. If you ask us, the shake-to-change-tracks proposition is somewhat gimmicky and we don't see ourselves using it often after the initial novelty. We'd rather pipe music wirelessly to our HBH-DS980 Bluetooth stereo earphones and switch tracks on the accessory.

Although most of the recent Sony Ericsson models sport the new media-browsing interface, the W910i has a unique SensMe feature. It sorts music according to its tempo (fast and slow) and the mood (happy and sad) it evokes in an X/Y-axis graphical interface. So at a glance, one can see songs which are fast and happy, sad and slow, or happy and slow. We haven't come across any tracks which are fast and sad, so the top left quadrant is usually empty. Using the directional control, we could navigate the graph, which displays the title of the songs selected in a ticker tape on the screen.

With only 40MB of memory, music lovers will need an expansion card for their tunes. The format used in this handset is the Memory Stick Micro M2, Sony's flash media which is almost similar in size to the microSD format. They are usually priced at a slight premium compared to microSDs, though, so increasing the memory may require another chunk of change. What disappointed us was that Sony Ericsson didn't include a 3.5mm audio jack on the W910i, which would have been appropriate for a music phone.

Installed on our W910i test unit are three gaming titles. The Lumines Block Challenge, which is a modified version of the hit title Lumines on the Sony PSP, is a block puzzle game with a musical twist to it. However, the Marble Madness 3D game takes the cake for making use of the onboard motion sensor. The mission is to navigate the marble to the end of the maze by tilting the phone to control the orb. Although there's always the traditional keypad to fall back on, the fun is in playing the game using the motion sensor controls. Racing fans will also enjoy playing the V-Rally 3D game in landscape mode.

Connectivity-wise, the W910i is quite capable. The quadband handset supports HSDPA for high-speed downloads over the cellular network, a good feature to have if listening to or buying tunes over-the-air appeals to you. A front-facing camera above the phone's 2.4-inch LCD is for video calls.

Sony Ericsson W910i - SidesEven though it's positioned as a music phone, the W910i's sub-par camera is admittedly disappointing. There's no autofocus (which accounted for a number of blurry pictures), no LED flash light for shooting in darker environments and no way to do self-protraits. Sometimes we wonder if it's a good idea to have such clear lines between a camera-phone and a music-phone. With Sony Ericsson, the Walkman series is usually fitted with a less-than-satisfactory camera module compared with its Cyber-shot brethren. Notably, users these days don't just look for a handset with a feature that takes priority over other functions. But that's just our take.

Performance And Battery Life of the Sony Ericsson W910i Mobile Phone

Call quality is decent on the W910i. Even though the onboard speakers are on the underside of the unit, they are slightly propped up by the bottom edge of the handset, so that doesn't affect the audio volume too drastically. While audio quality from the headset was clear and crisp, we did notice that music played using the onboard speakers sounded somewhat flat and a tad too sharp.

The rated battery life of the W910i is 9 hours of talktime (3.5 hours using 3G) and approximately 14.5 days on standby. We managed to use our review unit for about two days with occasional music listening and snapping of photos, used together with voice calls and text messaging.