The good news for those with larger hands is that the buttons inside the clam are large and well spaced. You’d have to be a giant to have trouble working your way around the number pad, navigation button and softmenu keys.
Sony Ericsson could have tried harder with the main screen, though. I measured it at 1.8 inches diagonally and it offers a mere 176 x 220 pixels. There is room here for a much larger screen and the one provided looks a bit lost and underspecified.
As a Walkman phone a couple of things are important – battery life and memory. The W380i comes with a mere 14MB of built in memory, a giveaway that it is a budget handset. But it also comes with a 512MB Memory Stick Micro, which nestles in a slot that is easily accessible once you remove the battery cover.
Battery life is not as hot as it could be. From a full charge the phone played music non-stop for a total of seven hours and seven minutes. This should give most people a full day of music between charges, but daily charging is probably recommended.
The headphones supplied with the phone use Sony Ericsson’s proprietary connector which is shared by the mains power cable and PC connection cable. The connector is as bulky as ever, and something Sony Ericsson really does need to look at redesigning. However the good news is that there is a 3.5mm connector just past the microphone, so you can substitute your own headset if you want to do that.
As for the camera, well it leaves quite a bit to be desired. It doesn’t shoot video at all. There is no autofocus and no flash. Stills are limited to 1.3 megapixels which really is low for any mobile, and for Sony Ericsson, which produces some of the best cameraphones out there, is shameful. Even if this is a budget mobile and doesn’t have the Cybershot branding, Sony Ericsson does itself a disservice by opting for a 1.3-megapixel sensor. The main consequence of the low resolution is that you can’t do a lot with the photos you shoot. They are only really good for looking at on the phone itself. Prints are out of the question.
As for the test shots, the coloured dish, photographed indoors under ordinary household lighting, has good colour reproduction. The chair displays a reasonable amount of detail and its white is quite uniform. The flower is a much deeper mauve in real life than the photograph suggests, but I got in quite close for this shot and the focus is not too bad at all.
Other software on the W380i includes a web browser, RSS feed reader, sound recorder, FM radio, calendar with PC synchronisation, to do list, notes manager, timer, stopwatch, calculator, five alarms and several games. You can blog photos from the phone too.
This mobile is definitely Walkman Lite. Battery life is reasonable but not great, and I’m not a huge fan of the front control pimples. The real deal-breaker is the camera though. Its 1.3 megapixel resolution is disappointing.