Sony Ericsson W395

The Sony Ericsson W395 is a traditional slider handset, the type that Sony Ericsson have been rolling out for years. It is pitched towards the entry-level end of the market, and the spec sheet reveals this, with some features ominously missing.

The handset itself is well constructed. With plastics used on all sides, it doesn't break boundaries in terms of design, and looks as though it hasn’t broken out of the mold of previous small format sliders from the company. Save for a few buttons, it bears a striking resemblance to the F305 from Sony Ericsson.

Measuring 96.0 x 47.0 x 14.9mm, it is reasonably compact, but can’t claim any titles for being the slimmest phone out there. The slide action is a little soft, lacking the great positive feel you get at the top end of the line on the W995, but it is free from creaks or flex that can blight cheaper sliders.

As usual a range of controls are spread out under the screen, including the Walkman button that takes you straight into the music player, with the central four-way nav keys giving you play/pause and forward/back and access your play queue. The volume controls round the side will work when the keys are locked, which is practical for using on the move.

What isn't so practical, however, is that you don't get a 3.5mm. This has to be the biggest make against the W395, as it puts itself forward as a Walkman phone, just you are stuck using the poor bundled headphones with the usual massive connector. The W395 doesn't come with the headphone adapter dongle either, although you could get one off eBay for a few pounds.

Also supporting the music offering are the stereo speakers mounted in the back, which are surprisingly loud and reasonable quality considering their size. They are sure to be a hit with those who like to publically play they music on the bus or on street corners, much to the chagrin of everyone else.

Also residing on the back is a 2-megapixel camera which is reasonable quality for sharing online, but suffers the normal noise, lag and slow "shutter speed" problems. There is no flash here, so indoor shots after dark aren't going to work. Video capture is also available, but with a resolution of 176 x 144 pixels a 15fps, it's a poor showing anywhere other than on a handset.

The top of the handset sees a slot for an M2 memory card, with our handset coming with a 1GB card to supplement desultory 10MB of phone memory. The handset will support cards up to 4GB in size.

The screen is a 2-inch 176 x 220 pixel display, which isn't the greatest you'll find on a phone, but given this device's budget position is adequate.

Dive into the menus and you'll find it to be typical Sony Ericsson stuff, with big icons and with everything easy to find. You get the normal Sony Ericsson offering here, not really pitched at data consumers, as the browser is rather basic and it lacks the 3G offerings you'll find higher up the range.

As said this is a GSM/GPRS/EDGE phone with basic hardware specs, so there is no Wi-Fi or GPS, but you do get Bluetooth and an FM radio.

For most though, this phone will be about messaging. The keyboard is rather small for those with larger fingers, but it has a nice crisp positive action, making it easy to quickly bash out text messages to friends.

We tested the "Dusky Grey" handset, but it comes in a range of liveries, including a Hello Kitty special edition for some lucky souls.

Verdict

The Sony Ericsson W395's basic hardware spec fits it's status as a budget phone and for many the feature set will suit. However, the lack of 3.5mm jack undermines its position as a Walkman handset, with the bundled headphones not delivering the impressive performance found elsewhere in the range.

The build quality is good, however and with a battery life that will see you through most of the week between charges, it's a handset that feels as though it will last you the length of your contract or until you can afford another.

But with basic connectivity, basic video capture and a small screen, for many, the Sony Ericsson W395 won't provide the connected experience they are now looking for.