After the excitement of my last Sony Ericsson handset, the C902, I was ready for more of the same with the W350. In design terms I got it, but in other respects I was disappointed.
The W350 is a Walkman handset, and so is designed for music playing. It sits at the lower end of the Walkman range, though, so you shouldn't expect huge things of it. It is a tri-band GSM phone with EDGE and if you want 3G you need to look elsewhere.
Sony Ericsson has gone for another striking hardware design with this mobile phone. It is a sort of hybrid between a candybar and a clamshell phone. It looks at first glance like a candybar. The front fascia is half occupied by the screen, half by a pad containing five buttons.
The screen is small - it measures a mere 1.8in diagonally, and on paper it seems it is a bit short on pixels at 176 x 220. While the screen is a little blocky to look at, Sony Ericsson pulls of its usual trick of producing a clear and bright display. So while more pixels would have been nice, this screen is still good enough to live with.
The front buttons are designed in a very flowing, curvy arrangement. Three of them are marked up for music control (play/pause, back and forwards). The other two are unmarked but are vertical scrollers and they sit within a circle that also incorporates the pause/play button and provides a highlight of colour against the phone's mostly black fascia.
On my review handset this circle was bronze in colour, but other options are available too. Vodafone, for example, has a purple version at its website.
Now, this bottom part of the front fascia can be flipped downwards to reveal the phone's number pad, D-pad, softkeys, back and cancel keys. The flip is very flimsy, bending and bowing when opened at the least application of pressure to it. If this phone is dropped at the wrong angle with the flip open disaster could follow.
All the keys but the D-pad are shiny black and reasonably sized. They are bevelled to help with accuracy. The D-pad is silver and about as large as the space will allow it to be. There is no blank space here - every millimetre is used by a key of some sort.