Usually the Sony Ericsson handsets I get in for review sit at or near the top of the specifications tree. But this time things are different. I’ve got a Sony Ericsson W205 from Vodafone. This is a lowly little handset, just £99.99 SIM-free from Sony Ericsson itself, less than that if you shop around. Vodafone is doing it for £40 on pay as you go.
Of course, the bells and whistles of more expensive handsets aren’t here and the features that are built-in lean towards the lower end of the range.
For example, the physical design. This is a slider phone and while it might at first glance seem to be very similar to the classier and more expensive W595 it is in fact a far less showy beast.
The design is blockier and the plastic build material is much more in evidence. This handset feels – and looks – like it is made of lesser quality materials. That doesn’t mean it is not robust. It certainly feels hardy enough to withstand some knocks and bumps. Just that it lacks panache.
The W205 is quite a small handset at 92mm tall with the slide down, 47mm wide and 16.4mm thick. It weighs 96g. The height extends to about 120mm when the slide is opened.
The slide mechanism is a bit on the clunky side and the buttons are all somewhat less well put together than on more expensive handsets. Under the slide the numberpad is flat and covered by a transparent plastic sheet that has a rubbery finish to stop your fingers sliding about as you text. The front buttons are built in a similar curved and round design to those of the W595, but they aren’t quite as comfortable under the fingers or as easy to press.
None of this is much of a problem, to be fair, as usability is still good. Where I do feel let down is the screen. Sony Ericsson produces some of the best mobile phone screens around, but this one is horrid. A mere 1.8in in size, its 128 x 160 pixels are individually visible. They offer so little viewing area that the main menu is a 3 x 3 grid of icons. The screen’s wide black frame indicates that Sony Ericsson could have found room for a larger display – but would have had to improve its specs and add to the handset cost as a result.