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In the middle of last year I reviewed the M600i, Sony Ericsson’s attempt to bring the UIQ platform out of its chunky, smartphoney ‘P’ series shell and turn it into something for a wider audience.
Now I have the tri-band, 3G W950i in my hands. Like the M600i this is a small format slimline phone. It is 106mm tall, 54mm wide, 15mm thick and 112g and tucks away fairly nicely in the pocket. Its deep purple finish, which Sony Ericsson names Mystic Purple, looks brown in some conditions. It’s distinctive, though I’m not sure I like it.
Again it is an attempt to expand the audience for UIQ, this time aiming at music lovers, and its standout feature aside from Walkman branding and music playback ability is that it sports no less than 4GB of flash memory.
This is a lot of memory for a phone and as much as you get on the mid-range iPod nano. Unusually for a phone though there is no way of expanding the internal memory with flash memory cards. If you are OK using Sony Ericsson’s bundled Disc2Phone software or basic file transfer to get tracks to the handset, then good for you. But in my world neither is as convenient as using memory cards to get tunes onto a phone.
Battery life matters a lot for a phone that doubles up as a music player. The M600i did pretty well here delivering more than ten hours of music from its own speaker with its screen forced to stay on.
Sadly the W950i fared less well giving me a minute under seven hours of music, again with its screen forced on. That is disappointing when compared to what you get from standalone players.
Sound volume and quality through the loudspeaker were both reasonably good and loud too. You can view album art and assign a ‘mood’ to tunes. The choices are happy, sad, energetic, chilled and no mood. I rather like this idea. There is an FM radio which can automatically tune its twenty presets or you can tune them manually.
The headset comes in two sections. The part that connects to the phone contains the FM radio antenna, microphone used for voice calling and a lozenge offering controls for playback and system volume. Beyond these is a 3.5mm slot into which you can plug the provided earbuds or your own headphones.
Unfortunately, the lower section uses the same slot on the phone as the mains power jack. So you can’t listen to music while charging the battery.