You can also use Sony Ericsson’s silly shake control. When the clam is closed, you place a finger on the pause/play controller; when it is opened, you use the Walkman key that sits above the top button row. Then you shake left and right to move between tunes, tilt the phone towards you to raise the volume, away from you to lower it. I’m happier with the touch keys and side-mounted controls to be frank.
You can switch to the FM radio and the standby screen using a side key, and a slider locks the outer touch buttons, protecting them against accidental use when the phone is pocketed.
Inside, the main screen measures a healthy 2.2 inches diagonally and displays 320 x 240 pixels and 262 thousand colours. It is bright and sharp, as you’d expect from Sony Ericsson. However, it is the number pad area that really impresses. There is plenty of space for it to accommodate large number keys and a big D-pad as well as sizeable additional keys.
With 8GB of storage, you can accommodate plenty of tunes, though there is no Memory Stick slot so all your music has to come via Bluetooth or, better, a PC connection. You get a USB cable and the PC Suite software for this task.
The process of transferring music includes using the SensMe system. This automatically places tunes on a grid separating fast tunes from slow ones, sad tunes from happy ones. A SensMe grid on the phone lets you choose tracks appropriate to your mood.
With a battery life that Sony Ericsson says pushes 9 hours on GSM and offers 370 hours of standby you should get plenty of music playback. I didn’t have the phone for long enough to run my usual full playback test, but the timed testing I did manage to do indicates that there is enough life here for a day’s listening for even the most music hungry people. Oh, and there is an FM transmitter that enables you to send music to, for example, your car radio.
Sony Ericsson still can’t get its corporate head around the fact that it needs to build a 3.5mm headset jack into its Walkman phones. The one here is the usual Sony Ericsson brick. OK, there is a 3.5mm connector past the microphone, but that doesn’t really do the trick for me.
Moreover, the headset connector is on the side of the phone, making it sit awkwardly in a pocket. There is a pass-through connector on the mains power adaptor so you can use the headphones and charge the phone at the same time. It looks stupid but it does a solid job.