I said right at the start of this review that the W950i is 3G so you might expect video calling to be part of the deal. Wrong. There is no front facing camera, and, incidentally none on the back either. No video calls, no stills shooting. At least 3G users will find the web browser capable. I like especially that you can flick into widescreen format to better view web sites.
Overall, the screen is very good. It measure 2.6 inches corner to corner, delivers 240 x 320 pixels and 262,000 colours. It is bright, crisp and vibrant. It is touch sensitive as UIQ demands.
UIQ itself is a solid and capable smartphone platform. Diary and to-do list management with PC synchronisation, notes taking, mobile email, sound recorder, the already noted Web browser and RSS reader are all here. They sit alongside features like a stopwatch, calculator, unit converter and timer. Additionally, there’s more entertainment focussed stuff like TrackID. This records snippets of songs from the radio or other source and checks them against the Gracenote database telling you what you are listening to in a text message.
There is certainly plenty to entice, but the ergonomics of everyday use are not the best. The W950i has a flat number pad. Small pimples in the centre of each ‘key’ area make this easier to use than some, but it is not as pleasing or as fast to use as real keys. Texting was certainly a slower business than usual. On screen handwriting recognition and a tappable keyboard help a little but you need to use the W950i two-handed to take advantage of these and work with the provided stylus. Neither is as fast to use as a good number pad.
When you are using the music player three orange coloured control ‘buttons’ light up between the number pad and screen. One will play and pause tracks, one lets you skip forwards between tracks or within them if you hold it down, the third does the same job for going backwards. These disappear when you quit the music player. There is also a dedicated Walkman ‘button’ which is always visible and which launches the Walkman software, and another play/pause button – a proper one this time – on the right edge of the casing alongside a volume rocker.
A wheel on the left edge of the casing provides vertical scrolling and a press to select feature. Movement through lists on screen (for example lists of options or applications) registered a bit later than I expected, and there is an irritating freewheeling aspect so that when scrolling the wheel quickly it went rattling on for a list item or two after I’d stopped moving it. Scrolling slowly was the only way round this and it took a little self-discipline to get what should be the simple task of making a choice from a menu right every time.
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test each product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare things properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.