One of the most common complaints from music mobile phones is lack of on-board storage, but with 8GB stuffed into the Sony Ericsson W960i, could you be left wanting more? We had a look to find out.
Coming in a fairly large form factor, measuring 109 x 56 x 16mm, and weighing 119g, the W960i front is dominated by the bright 2.5in screen. Sony Ericsson have opted to retain the keypad at the bottom of the phone, despite its touchscreen capabilities.
Running on the Symbian OS, it offers the usual intuitive interface you’d expect from Sony Ericsson, with the added Walkman branding and features. As far as a music device goes, we have to give it the thumbs up. The supplied headphones plug into the handsfree dongle, meaning you can use any other headphones if you choose, however, those supplied in the box deliver rich bassy sounds and are testament to the phone’s music pedigree. However, with no integrated 3.5mm socket, you have to use the dongle, adding an extra metre of cable you might not want.
When using the Walkman features, you get a dedicated set of touch controls that light up in the bottom of the display section, which are convenient. You can also use the screen itself, but as things are fairly small, you’ll need the stylus, which is a chore.
Staying with the theme of control, this is where the phone starts to fall apart. The keypad is great but with no d-pad you have to touch what you want on the screen or use the clickwheel on the left side of the phone. In the end you are forced to use a combination of screen taps and key presses, which is a little tedious.
There is another line of confusion around the middle of the phone. The top row of keys consists of a back button, Walkman shortcut and cancel/delete key, then you could have the Walkman dedicated buttons, and in addition, a further line at the bottom of the screen. On many occasions we were pressing the wrong button.
In terms of connectivity, the phone offers the normal quad-band GSM and HSDPA, as well as featuring Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an FM radio. The 3.2 megapixel camera is simple to use and has dedicated button, but suffers from the above-mentioned control issues, as does the video camera. As a 3G phone, it supports video calling and has a front mounted camera for this purpose.
Finally, on design and build quality, we have to question the W960i. The battery cover gave an irritating creak and the keys seem to float around and feel flimsy under pressure. The clickwheel appears to be in totally the wrong place, as it is nigh on impossible to tap out a message and use the wheel without shifting the phone in your palm – unless you are left-handed.
As a music player it works well, especially with that 8GB of storage, but the W960i seems to fall short in many areas: control is a significant issue, the OS is slow to respond at times, and the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket is inconvenient.
With many competitors on the market, this is definitely a case of try before you buy.
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