I also happen to think there is too much of a mish-mash of controls on the phone. There is a very good number pad under the screen which is made up of large keys that are easy to hit. Well done there, Sony Ericsson.
But above the number pad is a single row offering the Walkman button, Back and Clear keys. Then, above this, is a set of touch buttons that pop up when you are using the music player, and allow you to pause, play and go backwards and forwards. Finally there is a row of up to three buttons on the bottom of the touchscreen itself, plus all the various other touchscreen controls. You are going to need to read the manual to take it all in.
Oh, and while I am grumbling, the phone takes ages to boot up. If you like to turn your mobile off overnight to save battery power the slow morning startup is going to annoy you, especially because the boot is two-part. First switch on, wait a while, then choose between ‘Phone On’ and ‘Flight mode’ and wait some more.
On the plus side the screen is fitted flush to the outer fascia, so hitting the tiny icons that lurk on a row along the top of the screen is a little easier than it was on the W950i as that phone had a recessed screen. This is really important as the small ‘buttons’ offer delights like quick Bluetooth activation, use of the built in Wi-Fi, task manager for switching between running apps and closing any you don’t need, and a really useful ‘new’ menu for creating SMSs, appointments, emails, contacts, tasks, notes, voice recordings and more.
The scroll wheel that sits on the left edge of the phone is great for moving around and I like that it scrolls off the bottom of any list and then automatically moves back to the top again.
The music player is superb. Well, except for the miniscule tappable icons for repeat and shuffle modes and getting to the equaliser. The scroll wheel gives you neat control of playlists, and I got a very impressive 12 hours seven minutes of music from a full battery charge.
I’m miffed that Sony Ericsson still insists on its proprietary headset connector, which uses the port you also need to use for charging the battery. There is a 3.5mm connector past the microphone so you can use other cans if you prefer, but I really want Sony Ericsson to go 3.5mm on the handset in future mobiles – perhaps even to build the FM antenna into the device itself, rather than rely on the headphone or mic cable doubling up as the antenna (listening to the radio over speakerphone could then be a cable-free prospect too).