Sony Ericsson W550i Walkman Phone Review

Posted: March 16, 2006 in Cellphones

Change is the law of life alright, and if you thought clamshell phones are the things in cool cellphones, then you probably just missed the bus. Say hello to swivel phones and a bigger hello to the SE W550i.

Looks and Design

Click For a larger image

The design is a marriage of the W800i and the swivel screen S700i. And just watch the looks you get when you flick the screen open in public. Did you just hear an ooooh!!! from that girl in that skimpy skirt? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. You had the walkman turned on at full volume, remember, dahlink.
It looks smart and chic no doubt, and with the Orange color scheme it is quite an eyeball grabber too. This might not appeal to everyone and to me at least it looks a bit daft. Thankfully you do have snap on covers which are available in white, blue and black

Keypad

In the palm it fits nice and snug and you shouldn’t have a problem typing out long SMSes with that nice and neat keypad which offers excellent tactile feedback.
Also the buttons placed on the outside are pretty much enough for almost all the functions. You can access the menu, make a call, start the music player, surf the net, et al. I also tried playing a football game over it, without accessing the number pad and it worked just fine. I also like the fact that there is no navigational stick and there is a nice 5 button navigation pad. Navigational sticks are prone to going inside or just coming of the unit leaving you in a lurch. (I’m not generalizing but this has happened to many a people)Music Features
It’s a Walkman series phone so you take it for granted that the playback quality will be good. And it doesn’t disappoint. The highs are crisp and so are the mids and lows. All of your MP3 tracks are stored on the inbuilt 256mb memory which is room for around 100 tracks in MP3 or Apples’ ACC or Microsoft’s WMA (even with DRM).
The earphones bundled are the ones which you can find on the W800i and they do a darn good job of blocking out some of the outside noise and hence boosting the richness of the music you finally listen to.
Also the phone has got 3 small speakers(1 at the front, 1 at the side and 1 at the back) which are quite crisp and are certainly better than the silly LG M4410 which is almost in its price range,
Plus it’s got an FM receiver which is a big plus, given that the phone has a limited memory of 256MB which is not expandable, but is like poor compensation for not having expandable memory.
The same Walkman software sits on the W550 and it makes accessing your media a synch cataloguing artist, albums and tracks then serving them up through an excellent interface., however we found why the W550i is more cost effective. Sony have decided not to provide an external data slot, so no MMC, memory stick or SD card which means the maximum music you can carry is the 256mb internal memory and in one stroke they have crippled the W550i

Display
There is not much to be said about that brilliant screen which also does duty on the K750i and the W800i. It’s got 262k colors and at a resolution of 176 x 220 it is more than enough and suits this particular application very well.

Camera

The camera is a 1.3 MP unit and I expected the quality to be really good, but it disappointed me a bit. It does have AutoFocus but is not a patch on the 2.0 MP unit that is present in the K750i and W800i. The camera falters in low light and I’m not even mentioning complete darkness. Not mediocre, but certainly not what I expected after the K750i and W800i which have amazing alacrity with the way they capture light. The phone offers video recording and a small flash that is fairly effective too.Connectivity
The phone offers Bluetooth, IR and GPRS class 10. Doesn’t have EDGe in this one either. One reason why I steered clear of this phone.

Memory
The phone has 256MB of shared memory and sadly you cannot expand it. Maybe enough for most users but then, hey, when were you satisfied with the amount of memory your phone came loaded with. Maybe they wanted to keep costs down with a single non-expandable memory. But I think they should have rather given 64MB of memory and a slot so that they could sell their proprietary Memory Stick Duo sticks and minted money out of it.

Battery Life
In the Walkman mode, I played music continuously and the battery ran dry in some 12 or so hours. After carrying out some more real world tests (2 hrs of daily Walkman usage, a few calls and SMSes and moderate use of the camera) I found out that the phone lasted a good 2 days. But not exactly what SE quoted as 8 hrs.
Network Strength
Network Strength is excellent and the phone sounds good even in low signal areas. The phonebook too is as intuitive as on the other phones and browsing through it is a breeze

Games and Applications
You’ll find a lot of similarities between the applications provided for both the walkman phones. There are some smart games, a fully functional e-mail client a video editor, a ringtone composer kinda software and lots more.

Pluses
+Chunky design
+Intuitive Interface
+Good music playback
+W Logo
+SE W800i screen

Minuses
+No expandable memory
+No EDGe
+Average quality camera

Price
Rs. 11,900
Verdict
Sadly by this point I’d made up my mind and all the nice touches and the chunky yet reassuring feel of the W550i weren’t exactly enough to make up for the fact that we have a good sounding easy to use MP3 player that has less storage than an ant’s bum bag. Clearly Sony have to differentiate their products but there is little point in crippling them!!
Also if you are happy with just 256mb of memory or are prepared to use the USB 2.0 connection to fill up your W550i then the Sony Ericsson W550i does make an excellent phone, but if like me you have a bit more than 100 MP3’s then you’ll always wish you’d gone for the W800i.

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Comments
  1. Udayan Kulshrestha says:

    It’s Good Lookin’,But Not Exactly A Heart’s Craving,Not By A Long Shot.
    The Corresponding Nokia And Motorola Phones Would Sweep The Ground With It.Low Memory Isn’t Exactly What One Looks For In A Fancy Phone Nowadays,At Least Not With The Music Craze Around.

  2. Sirf Gyan says:

    I just bought one.. and I’m pretty satisfied.. i think if you don’t wanna jack your phone up with songs, the W550i is a good buy

  3. David Klompas says:

    I take my hat off to salute Sony on this tremendes phone. It is one of the best phones I have ever seen in my entire life.

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