In July, Sony Ericsson celebrated three years of its Walkman phone brand by launching three new mobiles. One of these, the HSDPA-toting slider W595 is what I have on review this week.
For my money this phone is an absolute stunner to look at. My review sample came in a nice shade of blue. Vodafone has a far less attractive looking black version, Three a grey one, and Orange seems to have the blue one available. This being Sony Ericsson the colours have fancy – and meaningless – names: Lava Black, Jungle Grey, Active Blue. Apparently there is also a Cosmopolitan White version knocking around.
The top and bottom ends of the phone are curved away from you making the back slightly longer than the front. A nice shiny blue trim sits along the long edges and curves its way round to the back of the phone.
The finish has a rubbery texture though not a rubbery look, and ensures that the phone feels secure in the hand. The slide mechanism is smooth, and opening the slide doesn’t leave the phone feeling top or bottom heavy.
For my taste the handset is a little on the tall side. I think Sony Ericsson could have shaved a few millimetres off without too much fuss. For the record the phone is precisely 100mm tall when closed, 47mm wide and 14mm thick. It weighs 104g and when opened I measured it at 130mm tall.
There isn’t anything to get a grip on when you open the slide, so fingerprints inevitably gather on the screen. This is ever so slightly recessed which makes wiping it down your jeans to clean it a little bit awkward.
The screen itself measures 2.2in diagonally. This isn’t a vast size by any means, but it is large enough for what is on offer here, and as ever with Sony Ericsson the TFT is sharp and bright, the 240 x 320 pixels clear. Sony Ericsson has thrown in a motion sensor so that when you twist the phone in your hand the screen swivels round. As ever this is great for things like photo/video viewing and web browsing.
The D-pad has built in music controls and, when you are in camera mode the central button shoots photos while pressing left and right flick between video, stills shooting and the gallery.
Arc-shaped buttons on the left and right of the D-pad give you access to Call and End features, the softmenus, Clear, and Sony Ericsson’s all important Activity menu. I like this every time I come across it, because of the easy access it gives to running apps, user-defined shortcuts, alerts and Internet related features.
I do have to say that some of the front keys are a bit small and fiddly, and this is a pity as Sony Ericsson has plenty of front space on this phone to play with and so could have made some of the buttons larger.
Open the slide and Sony Ericsson proves it can do design and utility at the same time. The numberpad is very original without loosing its usability. Each key is individually shaped and raised from the surrounding fascia. Speed-texters should be fine with it.
For all its Walkman capability and branding, probably the flagship feature of this phone is its YouTube connection. You can view videos, which I found to be a pretty smooth and surprisingly workable experience. You can also upload video you’ve shot with the phone. Just beware of data charges.
Music is at the core of what this phone does and a key on the side of the casing drops you right into the Walkman software. It also doubles as the shake control key. Hold it down and you can shake left and right to switch tracks, up and down to change volume. Sony Ericsson should really ditch this feature. It isn’t as accurate as using the easily accessible D-pad controls, and in my view you’ll look demented while doing it.
SensMe, which has been around for a while on Sony Ericsson handsets, helps you choose music to match your mood. Memory runs to 40MB with a 2GB Memory Stick Micro also included.
Sony Ericsson simply can’t get rid of its proprietary, side-mounted, headset connector, but in this case it ends in a chunky 3.5mm splitter. I’m getting images of lovey-dovey types sharing their favourite tracks on the train and people doubling up to listen to a podcast so they can share the laughter/information/whatever. It’s sweet to think that Sony Ericsson cares so much, but you might find it annoying to carry bulk at the phone end and the 3.5mm end of your headset.
Battery life was reasonable. I got six and a half hours of music from a full charge. Sony Ercisson quotes up to nine hours of GSM talk and 385 hours on standby. I easily got a couple of days between charges with this phone.
There is a front-facing camera for video calls, while the main camera shoots at up to 3.2-megapixels. The main camera doesn’t include autofocus or flash. If your subject is even slightly moving you should expect blurring. I also found it keen to over-expose. The yellow flowers are an example. The chair is uniformly white, though, and indoors the camera performed quite well. The coloured dish is really vibrant.
There is lot of software which makes this attractive for a mid-range phone. Walk Mate uses the motion sensor to provide a pedometer tracking you towards a 10,000 steps a day goal. An FM radio augments the music player, there is a unit converter, five alarms, calendar, task manager, sound recorder, notes taker, timer, stopwatch, calculator, pass-coded memo, and, of course, a web browser. All this alongside Sony Ericsson favourites like TrackID, VideoDJ, PhotoDJ and MusicDJ.
Mast triangulation is used in conjunction with the built-in Google Maps. It claims 800 metres accuracy which, when you think about it, is almost a kilometre and not much good for tracking anything. It’s fine for pinpointing a location, but useless for helping you get to them.
This is a very nicely built handset with a strong range of features. Sony Ericsson has proved that mid-range handsets can be very competent. Anyone producing mediocre fare in this segment of the market needs to look and learn.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail