The W890i is Sony Ericsson’s current flagship Walkman handset. With 8GB of memory built in it is designed to meet the needs of the mobile music fan who doesn’t want to carry a separate player but who does want plenty of music at their disposal.
It is a tall order for any mobile phone to manage to combine the best that a mobile can offer with the best that a dedicated music player can offer. And the W980i doesn’t manage to achieve its goal, though it does make a good attempt.
Sony Ericsson doesn’t do many clamshell mobiles. The last one I reviewed was the Z750 and more recently I looked at the lower end Walkman range clam-alike W350. Neither hit the spot for me, and the W980i doesn’t manage to do so, either.
This has nothing to do with the way the phone handles, looks or behaves when closed. The shiny black fascia is far less of a fingerprint magnet than I thought it would be for a start.
In the closed position its 92mm of height, 46mm of width and 17mm of thickness are comfortable to hold and its 100g of weight presents no problems. Yes, the phone is rather thick even for a clam, but it is comfy in the hand and cosy in the pocket.
One of my problems with this phone is that it grows to nearly 180mm tall when the flip is opened. I find this too unwieldy to handle effectively. Maybe those with larger hands will like it, but dainty types might share my dislike.
The front controls and screen are superb. Three interlocking circles sit on the front fascia. When you tap one a square screen appears which measures about 1.5 inches across the diagonal and music controls appear within the circles. The controls are orange against the handset’s black fascia. You get a little haptic feedback to indicate you’ve pressed the selection you want - pause, play, back or forwards.
When a tune is playing you can run a finger round the larger central circle and up pops a touch-sensitive, white backlit D-pad. You can use this to move through lists choosing between artists, albums, tracks, playlists, genres, years, audio books and podcasts.