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Review of GSM-handset Sony Ericsson W350i

Live photos of Sony Ericsson W350i

Table of contents:

  1. Positioning
  2. Design, size, controls
  3. Display
  4. Keypad
  5. Battery
  6. Memory, Memory cards
  7. Connectivity
  8. Performance
  9. Camera
  10. Preinstalled applications, themes
  11. Music department
  12. Impressions

Sales package:

  • Handset
  • Charger
  • User Guide
  • USB data cable
  • 512 Mb M2 memory card
  • Software CD

Positioning

Whatever mystical powers the Sony Ericsson W350i possess, but it does a remarkable thing, evoking a strong feeling of nostalgia in everyone who has been using cellular phones for a dozen of years or so. Indeed, early in the nineties the market was bent on flip phones with Ericsson setting the trends. Nevertheless these type of handsets, for various reasons, ended up being ignored for a long time, as both consumers and manufacturers found themselves a new flame sliders and clamshells. The Sony Ericsson W350i is one of the first attempts to bring this form-factor back to the fore once again, and also the first device, among many to come, to bear an affordable price tag and target the youth as its primary audience. Do mind the fact that the defining feature in this line-up is not the flip, but the way these phones are positioned their looks may vary, but all of them have off-the-wall wafer-thin designs. In other words, Sony Ericssons goal here is to bring about diminutive solutions specializing in some particular departments. The W350i lets music take centre stage; likewise there are imaging centric products on the way. Its an original idea that hasnt been used and reused by many so far; Sony Ericsson doesnt aim to offer a pared-down high-end model adorned with some semblance of design for the mid-range market - on the contrary, they have a wholly new device line-up on the roadmap. It wont be much different from what they do in the higher end of the market, just positioned towards the youth and their wallets.

Unfortunately, such series have always to compromise on either price or functionality. Over at Sony Ericsson they have chosen style over substance this time, by arming the W350i with an elaborated design and fine materials, while the handsets feature pack has been given short shrift. So, the W350i and the likes wont really be mainstream solutions (in fact they will call them a collection, although in effect its a pack of handsets united by the underlying idea), but will rather aim at a certain niche. All in all, this is the W350is biggest difference from all past offerings, like the Ericsson T10s.

On the face of it, it may seem that both have strong youth appeal in them with all these flamboyant color schemes, but this is only a semblance of affinity between these two phones. The Ericsson T10ss popularity extended far beyond the younger portion of the audience thanks to its price, but the Sony Ericsson W350i doesnt have this trump. Nevertheless, lets see how Sony Ericsson views the potential owner of the latter solution:

The W350i is a great choice for 17-25 year olds who want to have a stylish music player and a mobile phone all in one package. They are no fashion slouches, so they need a state-of-the-art design, good sound experience along with all features found in contemporary mobile devices.

All in all, its a very well-outlined audience. Another thing of note about this target group is that it comprises of users who dont care for top-notch mobile web-browsing experience they simply dont need it. For the most part, they are looking out for a specialist music phone, rather than a do-it-all device. Curiously, they usually put the phone aspect above the music department. Hence the W350is being a niche solution that doesnt have a shot at the outer market, where convergent devices rule the roost and most youngsters are into all state-of-the-art feats and abilities. I havent met many young men who already know what they want in this life but the ones who do may well go for the W350i and the likes, rather than faceless mobile powerhouses. Its the kind of mentality one should come to, you cant be born with it inside or adopt.

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Design, size, controls

The first thing you come across a few minutes into use is how quirky the W350is design is velvety plastic with jaunty accents. It fits will into the hand and is pretty tiny at 104x43x11 mm and light at just 75 grams. Slim is definitely in here in this sense the W350i reminds of the Sony Ericsson W880i, W890i, some solutions from other makers. Its a trend in its own right people tend to like phones like this, however very rarely do they want to deprive themselves of ergonomics in exchange for a diminutive casing. The W350is flip housing a couple of music keys looks like a good trade-off.

This flip is active, meaning that flicking it open and closed will answer and end a call respectively. The music controls work not only for the phones music player, but also its radio mode. We also have some warm words prepared for its design when you close the flip the W350is display will show the players interface or radio (in case you were listening to it) and this is extremely convenient.

The flip itself is wafer-thin and petite. I cant say it feels insecure or overly fragile or rock-solid overall, its not much different from raw plastic in terms of look and feel. You wont be able to break it by accident, thats fore sure. Here is a small secret that hasnt been disclosed by the maker yet actually its about the way this flip operates. First and foremost, it has no wires or sensitive pads inside, and its easy to check, just detach it from the casing (pull the hinge and it will snap off).

Secondly, you will see the violet mechanism on the left thats the thing responsible for the flips activities during calls. But how can the music keys work without being connected with the rest of the phone through wires?

Its exceedingly simple the flip sits close enough to the keypad, so whenever you press one of the dedicated music buttons they go down just enough to touch the keypad underneath.

The first question that comes across your mind probably sounds like this how does the W350i handle drop impacts? We tried to throw it from a table, and occasionally the flip did fell off, but we had no problems with putting it back in place. Another thing of interest is how many key-presses it can take. As the maker claims - at least 60.000 for each button; and its difficult to imagine a user who can perform this many taps over the handsets lifespan. So its safe to say that as far as durability goes, the W350i wont let you down.

We missed one thing with the W350is flip, though the ability to use it as a stand.

Sony Ericssons designers have put in a lot of hours into elaborating the W350is color schemes, all of which come with very symbolic names - Graphic White, Electric Blue, Ice Blue and Hypnotic Black. The black variant will get to the market first (the color we played around with) and will feature black plastic with orange accents that give away its Walkman roots outright. All in all, the W350is trims are truly marvelous we find it extremely challenging to name our favorite flavor. Also, in all cases the headset that comes boxed with the phone is color-keyed to the latters casing, which is a positive too.

The W350is flip employs a different kind of plastic its not velvety and wears off with time, losing its matte finish, which is especially notable on the black version. You can flip the phone open single-handedly and close it however you like.

Sitting on the left is the Walkman button. Also there is a standard interface connector.

The hold switch, the ribbed slider key on top, is perched next to the lanyard eyelet. On the right there is the volume rocker and flipping the W350i over will reveal the camera lens and loudspeaker.

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Display

The W350is display shows up to 262 K colors in the resolution of 176x220 pixels (1.9 inches, TFT, 30x38 mm), which allows putting up 6 text and 3 service lines in most modes; when handling mail, messages or the web-browser you will be able to cram even more lines into it thanks to smaller fonts. On the positive side, this display remains readable in the sun.

But the W350i displays greatest failing is its size other than that, it produces a bright, colorful picture, being a pretty good performer for its class.

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Keypad

The numeric keys on the W350i sit close to each other, however they are still fairly easy to use. Unfortunately, the handset runs A100, hence the Back button that can confuse some these days the thing is, tapping the End key wont take you to the upper level of the menu here. All keys are lit in reasonably dim white; the W350is backlight is handled by the inbuilt ambient light sensor perched below the display on the left.

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Battery

The handset enjoys a 900 mAh Li-Pol battery (900 mAh), rated for up to 7 hours talk time and 300 hours of standby.

In Moscow the W350is battery time averaged 2.5-3 days with average use (up to one hour of calls, 30 minutes of games, 20 minutes of browsing, several hours of music). However in Europe you may well squeeze at least 1.5 times more juice out of it all thanks to superior coverage. The W350i can play music for 20 hours straight. It takes the phone around 2 hours to charge from empty to full.

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Memory, Memory cards

The W350i comes with around 14 Mb of user-manageable memory, the sales package also includes a 512 Gb memory card (M2), and you can always hot swap them. The top size of your memory card that this phone can handle is 4 Gb (when more capable cards come along, it will deal with them as well).

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Connectivity

USB

On USB-connection you are forced to pick connection type specifically whether you will be accessing data stored on the memory card to just keep managing the phone or activate Print mode. Also there is Media Transfer (MTP mode for accessing, say, Windows Media Player). For the first mode we mentioned above the handset goes off and you gain access to the contents of both the memory card and the phone internal memory. Despite the maker claiming it to be USB 2.0, data transfer speed doesnt exceed 500 Kb/s. If you just want your W350i to turn into a modem, then pick the second option, when you will have a chance to play around with various USB settings for going online.

Bluetooth

The handset comes with EDR-enabled Bluetooth 2.0, the menu enables you to turn on enhanced power saving mode. There is also A2DP support, which allows employing wireless headsets with the W350i. Its data transfer speed tops out at 100 Kb/s. The list of supported profiles:

  • A2DP
  • Basic Imaging Profile
  • Basic Printing Profile
  • Dial-Up Networking Profile
  • File Transfer Profile
  • Generic Access Profile
  • Generic Object Exchange Profile
  • Handsfree Profile
  • Headset Profile
  • HID
  • JSR-82 Java API
  • Object Push Profile
  • Personal Area Network Profile
  • Serial Port Profile
  • Service Discovery Application Profile
  • Synchronization Profile
  • SyncML OBEX binding

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Performance

The W350i puts up typical numbers for the companys latest generation of devices and is ahead of most models available on the market. There are no limits on JAR-file size, HEAP size from 512 Kb to 1.5 Mb.

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Camera

The W350is camera is no bells and whistles at 1.3 Mpix with no video recording capabilities. Among supported resolutions are 1280x1024 pixels, 640x480 and 320x240; two compression settings, a bunch of overlays (B&W, Negative, Sepia), and white balance. Other than that, we dont have much to add about this handsets camera.

(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG
(+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG (+) maximize, 1280x1024, JPEG

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Preinstalled applications, themes

The W350i runs Sony Ericssons previous platform A100. Learn more about its standard abilities, features and applications in our special write-up.

Comparison of S40 3rd Edition and Sony Ericsson A100 platforms

There are three games coming pre-installed with the W350i Guitar Rock Tour, QuadraPop, Extreme Air Snowboard.

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Music department

Unlike the vast majority of low-tier phones in this class, the W350i comes boxed with pretty decent earphones the HPM-65. The handset sports Walkman 2.0 onboard, and we could hardly expect it to pack in something different. The music quality (by the way the W350i can handle wireless headphones too) is quite average, although its volume level has obviously been lifted up, as compared to other models in this line-up. I see no point in going over the players standard suite of features here you will find more about them in our dedicated review of this platform.

The W350is radio module is nothing to complain about compared to the Sony Ericsson G900/C902 its around 30 percent quieter, but other than that we see no difference between them.

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Impressions

The W350is ring tones volume was average or a tad lower than that actually it was our primary niggle with it, since it wasnt loud enough for some environments. The reception quality was nothing to complain about, thoughOur only gripe is with the phones vibro alert, which occasionally proves to be on the weak side.

The W350i is not the most affordable solution weve seen to date at 150 Euro, however its not vastly overpriced either. Its target audience, those who do know exactly what they want from their phones and dont demand bells and whistles, will be pleased by what the W350i can do. Its pretty eye-candy too, although some might think that shelling out extra dollars for this design is an overkill. But all you need to do is put it face to face with the Nokia 5310 to see what sets the W350i apart from the rest of the pack.

Its a niche solution, but with a unique face. It deserves a place on your shortlist, as it doesnt have many notable glitches, probably the most serious of them being the keypad that you will have to get used to. As far as alternatives go, I can think only of the LG KM380 that looks exactly like the Sony Ericsson W350i and it seems someone copied the ideas of someone here. Surprisingly, the KM380 is a music playing solution too, offering a comparable feature set, but it wont be widely available on most markets.

Related links:

Review of GSM-handset Sony Ericsson W380i

Review of GSM-handset Sony Ericsson W580i

Review of GSM-handset Nokia 5220 XpressMusic

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Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 16 June 2008

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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