Sony Ericsson is really gaining momentum and you need only look at its growing portfolio of “Cyber Shot” and “WALKMAN” series of mobile phones to appreciate their offensive. By tapping into existing technologies from Sony’s Cyber shot and WALKMAN products Sony Ericsson has been able to roll out mobile phones that offer genuinely decent imaging and music capabilities. The WALKMAN series of mobile phones in particular boasts good sound quality and music playback functionality in addition to being easy phones to wield. The new W880i (codename ‘Ai’) is one such phone, nicely packed with features such as the intuitive WALKMAN 2.0 GUI and TrackID, only much slimmer than its predecessors.
Being Sony Ericsson’s thinnest 3G phone to date, the W880i is undeniably a slim and sleek handset. It is only a mere 9.4mm thick, which is just 1mm more than Samsung’s ULTRA 8.4 (3G) mobile phone, the SGH-Z370, for example. In addition to its sleek profile, we also like the rubbery texture on the back of the phone. It not only serves to provide a better grip but also strikes a better impression where build quality is concerned. It is most certainly good news for those with sweaty palms.
The front of the phone is where the W880i really shines, literally if you get the steel silver version. Instead of the usual plastic façade, the W880i is beautifully fabricated out of brushed stainless steel, giving the handset a timeless charm quality. There’s no arguing that the W880i exudes quality engineering, at least true as far as materials are concerned. The layout of the keys is quite similar to the K618i; a dedicated button launches the integrated music playback application while a multi-directional button serves as track and volume control.
Unfortunately, due to the design of the W880i, the charging and hands-free connector had to be relocated to the bottom left side of the phone, which means the arrangement of the W880i might look awkward when paired with certain accessory. Our only gripe with the W880i is that the number buttons are too small for fast messaging. Interface response and conversation quality continue to be points we like about Sony Ericsson handsets.
Being part of the WALKMAN series means you can pretty much expect the W880i to be a user friendly MP3 player as well. It uses a pretty WALKMAN 2.0 interface that was designed to provide quick navigation of songs under various categorizations such as artist names, albums, track names and playlist. Like the iPod, the supports album art display for pretty on-screen effects. A useful feature for music lovers is TrackID music recognition. Powered by Gracenote Mobile MusicID, any song can be identified simply by using TrackID to record a few seconds of songs that you are either having a hard time recollecting or unfamiliar with. Information such as singer, album name and title would be sent back to you via an SMS after TrackID has ran the recorded clip through the comprehensive Gracenote database. As usual, the audio quality is one of the best around from a mobile phone with MP3 playback functionality.
It’s not hard to see why we think the W880i is a very desirable handset. First of all, thanks to the stainless steel faceplate, the phone looks and feels great. It is very light thereby making it a very portable cameraphone and WALKMAN MP3 player to carry around for calls, music and lighthearted photography. The user interface is pretty and very easy to use, likewise for the WALKMAN interface. Lastly, with 3G connectivity, a built-in web browser and a front-mounted camera, the W880i is both a handy gateway to the Internet and for making video calls.