Sony Ericsson W380i mobile phone review

Another day, another Walkman handset, so why does Sony Ericsson believe the W380i is the handset to own? We make some calls to find out.

The W380i sits at the budget end of the Walkman range and offers a set of basic, but adequate, features to get your music on the go in the guise of a mobile phone.

That's not to say the tech is completely missing, just don't expect Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity. Instead for your money you'll get a tri-band handset with Bluetooth connectivity in a chamshell design.

The clamshell design is covered in a matt purple - very cardinal - and ascents of pink to give it that "hey I'm cool" look. Aside from the usual array of Sony Ericsson branding the top of the chamshell sports a rather miserable 1.3-megapixel camera and Braille-like keys for the play, stop, rewind and skip forward functions.

Those buttons control the on-board music player and pressing them gives you a small vibration to let you know something has happened.

Realising that having active buttons on the outside could be a recipe for disaster you'll get a sliding locking key on the back and this is tough enough not to be accidently switched while in your pocket. Above the buttons is a one line OLED screen that gives you song name or caller number.

The ringtone speaker also doubles as a speaker for the music, although don't expect this to light up your party. The noise is best described as tinny and whiny. Of course, the W380 being a music phone from Sony Ericsson, you don't get a 3.5mm headphone socket but instead have to rely on the Sony Ericsson dongle.

Rather than opt for on-board memory you get a 512MB M2 card in the box which means you can expand it further down the line.

Before we get to the insides, its also worth noting that the W380 features Sony Ericsson's Gesture Control tech. "Oh exciting!" I hear you cry: well in practice not really. The software allows you to perform set tasks like not answering your phone or snoozing an alarm by waving your hand in front of the camera. If the phone is on your desk then it’s not so bad, but in your pocket or your hand and you have to question whether it will save any time compared to just pressing a button.

So on to the inside and it’s business as usual for the Sony Ericsson handset. The keypad is an uninspiring silver, and the array of shortcut keys is Sony Ericsson doing what they do, or don't do, best. The back key has made a comeback (I though this had been banished on other handsets) and the menu interface complete with the music player is the same as always.

The 262k TFT 176 x 220 pixel screen is a bit on the small side and while the W380 supports an RSS reader don't expect to be able to see much of the feeds due to that cramped screen size.

Verdict

As a basic Walkman handset the W380 throws no punches and therefore is unlikely to offend.

You basically get what you get, a music-focused phone for the masses that delivers nothing out of the ordinary.

However beyond the music playback buttons this offers little. The gesture controls are a waste of time, and we mean a real waste of time, and the lack of a 3.5mm jack is as annoying as always.

Average.