Banking on its Walkman phone success, Sony Ericsson continues the tradition by launching a spruced up version of its previous W880i Walkman phone, the W890i. Arguably one of their slimmest phones to date, the W890i delivers a strong audio presence in a compact form. Slim as it may be, we could actually feel the additional weight of the W890i at 78g in direct comparison to the 71g of the W880i. On its own however, we found ourselves constantly checking to see if the phone was still our pocket.
The W890i comes in Mocha Brown, Espresso Black or Sparkling Silver and we got our hands on the Sparkling Silver version, though it looks more matted in reality than sparkling. This is definitely to its advantage because it won't be a fingerprint magnet like so many devices today aiming to dazzle, but ending up smudged all over instead. The keypad is the first feature to get a thumbs up from us, with wider and thicker keys that are definitely easier on the fingers, as opposed to the W880i's keys that were way too slim. Its five-way navigation pad on the other hand is still too compact for comfort and furthermore, the Call and End buttons have been compromised, being cramped up with the dedicated shortcut keys. On the bright side, the volume and camera buttons at the side are no longer flushed, making them much easier to press and locate.
With a strong emphasis on music delivery, the W890i follows the mantra of all Sony Ericsson Walkman phones, boasting an impeccable audio playback system. Along the usual suspects such as its Mega Bass equalizer and Stereo Widening effect, the W890i is also equipped with SensMe, a function that essentially plays a list of music according to preset moods such as Happy, Sad, Fast or Slow. You'll need to utilize Sony Ericsson's Media Manager while transferring songs over so that it can tag each music file according to its beat and rhythm to work with the various SensMe categories.
Trigger happy shutterbugs will be pleased with its upgraded 3.2-megapixel camera that is capable of delivering good photo shots, though sadly, it has no auto focus functionality. Additional capacity for both audio and image files is possible with a Micro M2 Memory Stick, but we do have a little grouse over its necessity to remove the battery casing to access the M2 slot, unlike the W880i's easily reachable M2 slot at the side.
The W890i is also now a proper 3.5G phone with EDGE GPRS and HSDPA connectivity. Still, we managed to squeeze out some decent battery life performance, lasting about a day and a half of moderate usage (Walkman music player with voice call and text messaging thrown in). If you are one to rely extensively on Bluetooth headsets though, you can probably expect the W890i to last under a day, which still scores well with us considering the size of its battery.
By providing a 3.5G device that blends the best of Sony Ericsson's Walkman audio quality with a slim and aesthetically pleasing design, the Sony Ericsson W890i should appeal general consumers and is enough of an improvement over the W880i to warrant its S$728 (US$527) retail pricing.