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Mobile library: Reviews
Review of Sony Ericsson W350i – Slimmer and LouderIt is probably one of the most impressive hybrids of a player and a phone among the musicphones of resent years. Moreover, our guest is not a common phone for a music lover, for example, as Nokia N91, but a rather simple youth solution from the middle price range. Have you already taken interest in this handset?
Table of contents:
There are moments sometimes, when you are eager to create a new design solution for the devices. At the same time you are driven on by engineers, which disturb your creativity with increasing ergonomic demands. Then the marketers come and turn an innovative idea into something unpretentious. So this is the way, how the design of the commercial devices appears, including household appliances, cars, furniture and, of course, mobile phones. For example, we can take several latest innovating solutions in mobile phones design: the collapsible protective screen of communicators and budget phones descended from the first clamshell Motorola Star Tec. The idea of a slider came right from the image Nokia 8850, while flip-phones seem to be abandoned, as they are uncomfortable. Think of the models Samsung N500&N600. The vendor in fact suggests that the buyers vote for the flip model with their money. The buyers have clearly voted on that question making the flip-phones the part of the past.
The idea was carried on with LG, which has began to develop rapidly all its handset series since the last year. Following the photo flagship model the company prepared a music solution from the middle end range, which would appear exactly in the summer. The history of LG is interesting for us this time only because of the idea to create a music phone with a middle-price tag, as this moment will be important a bit later. And now we’d like to return to Sony Ericsson together with its subbrand Walkman.
The middle end segment is slowly mastered by the company. If earlier the sales of the company used to be saved by the Ultimate-solutions, now there are no models, which are definitely successful like that, but there are series. The product series of Sony Ericsson numbers several dozens of various devices, which are mainly placed in the Middle End Segment. As a matter of fact, these variations of the once popular solutions form the variety of the devices, while the fans of the company are waiting for really new solutions, though their optimism goes out. But the company has faced the common problem of the market player, which has the limited possibilities and can’t hold all price segments, in which the company takes part, in the network of one subdivision. But as the technical renewal is to be in 2010, the company has to improve these niches, where the brand name is still important for the customers.
One of these niches if the series of rather cheap mass phones used mainly for calls and featuring good software functionality. This niche has already long been occupied by Nokia, since the 3310. As the rival has a strong position, the company remains to break a way through with different means, which a priori have to be successful. One of these means was the idea to create a cheap candy-bar phone with compact dimensions and well-known label Walkman. It would seem, there is the W380i on the market, which isn’t only a candy-bar phone and consequently being such a dull solution, doesn’t have any success. The phone needs a zest and they have found it.
And here we can remember that the new things appear on the basis of the old solutions, thus the designers of Sony Ericsson made up their mind to find a speciality of the device of the Middle End segment among the modern solutions. Due to the positioning as the music phone and design of the W980i, the vendor added the dedicated player keys saving the ergonomics and the whole look of the phone. They probably considered slider Nokia N91 as a variant and looked for inspiration among the old models, where they came across a flip solution.
The key moment of the introduction, which is further developed in the design part of the review is a combination of the flip-solution and low price. These two things used to be apart before, but now they run into one of the smallest Sony Ericsson phones apart the T600, which have already been forgotten. We are talking today about the W350i. So let’s move to the design.
There are small, narrow phones, but there are just thin phones. It is faulty to say that our guest is a small phone, though it has drawn narrow form, which resembles a ruler. The phone creates an impression of compact form, which is unusual to the most modern phones. Besides, the drawn form is distorted by the minimum of body elements, thus the device looks wider and more balanced, than the dimensions that the leaflet says. We are not going to speak about the design itself, but we are sure to mention the main peculiarities of the design.
Sony Ericsson W350i is a candy-bar phone (or at least close to the candy-bar) measured 103.7 x 42.6 x 11.2 mm. The dimensions make the phone similar not only to the most modern phones appeared on the market, but also to some FLASH-players.
The phone has a width and a thickness, which haven’t affected the ergonomics unlike the tiny Haier M600 Silver Pearl. The handy width helps the phone comfortably lie in the hands, while a matt plastic with a rough texture brings more positive emotions when working with the device.
The lack of metal elements makes the device look fragile in hands of those, who work with the handset more than 10 seconds. The compact dimensions are added with a small 75 g weight allowing to carry the phone in all pockets of the clothes, including shirt pockets and a light pocket of jeans.
This jeans pocket is not so comfortable due to the narrow and long body form. When walking the phone constantly creeps out of the pocket on one third, though the G502 having almost the same weight works much better.
The reason is that, that besides the phone you can pull a lighter in the pocket or any other device of the same size.
The whole front fascia is divided into two equal parts by a small slit, which we talk over a bit later. The top part of the body is remarkable for the transparent insert made of the persplex. Under the insert you see another plastic insert with a thin narrow cut of the earpiece. The latter is protected from the dust with a tiny grille.
Though the earpiece is placed close to the top edge, it doesn’t prevent from comfortable talking, when placing the phone in a common way. Below the earpiece you find 1.9’’ TFT 176x220 screen. The vendor claims the screen shows up to 262000 colours, though by sight we deal with a common 16-bits palette. The screen specifications are a bit different from the one utilized in the W380i, but coincides with the matrix of the W610i.
The colours are a bit faded, but we have no censured for colour temperature and brightness. Moreover, the colour rendering is similar to the 2.2’’ screens of the company in the phone running A200, for example the C702.
In the sun the screen works well allowing a user to read texts under the direct sun lights.
The viewing angles of the matrix are rather good: 160 degrees in both planes. Under the left bottom angle of the screen the vendor placed the light sensor, which won’t regulate the screen and keypad backlight depending on the outward lightning.
Now we move to the main peculiarity of the phone, namely the flip. Many users are likely to remember this element utilized in Ericsson T28s, which has a microphone and a magnet embedded in the flip showy opening after pressing a dedicated key. Take into account, that flip was rather an exception, as the T10s also can be used without the flip at all, as the latter has no elements.
The bygone phones of course are very interesting, but we are now more interested in the modern handsets, namely Sony Ericsson W350i.
So, there is a flip evenly covering the half of the front fascia of the body. The edges of the upper part are equipped with small lugs allowing to open the flip with one hand without problems. The opening mechanism placed on the loop on the left side has the simplest magnet finish.
Having the same thickness as the body, the loop looks very impressing, while the trimmed silver inserts on the flip lugs thin down the majority of the plastic utilized in the design. This element of the casing is interesting for the big flat dedicated player keys, which are placed almost in the center of the surface. It is notable, that the key have no card with the contacts. The inner surface of the flip consists of the simple painted film providing a notable travel of the very simple false keys.
The latter in turn are in contact with the some buttons of the keypad, which are dedicated to the definite actions. These keys are accessible when the closing sensor, placed in the loop, works.
When the flip is opened we see a solid keypad consisting basically of the transparent keys with the horizontal curves and painted bottom layer. Apart from these keys stays the silvery navigational key with a slightly deepened affirmative key. To work with navigational set is handy due to the soft medium travel with a distinct silent click. The other keys besides even more comfortable easy travel with a clear quiet click can boast about big size and good tactile feedback allowing when it is necessary to dial a number without looking at the buttons. The backlit of the keypad is white. The light diodes are dim and dotted, thus the backlit is very uneven. The work with the bottom row of keys is handy thanks to the rise close to the flip loop.
The rounded set and “*” key flank the mic hole, which isn’t affected by the flip, as you can talk either with the opened phone or without flip at all.
Let’s look at the flanks of the phones which have the thin silvery band except the rounded bottom end.
The top end houses a big eyelet. It is interesting, that it is big enough even for the camera straps, though you can use some hook to pull it through.
The vendor embedded in the band a bit jetting out relief slider of blocking resembling the same element in Nokia N91. The slider is handy in use thanks to the tight travel and good tactile feedback.
The left flunk can boast about slightly projecting small dedicated player/radio key near the top end. Closer to the bottom end you find Fast Port to all kind of wired accessories.
To work with the handset with the left hand is rather difficult mainly because of the narrow body of the device.
On the left flunk you find twin volume keys, which have inclined edges and sharp deepening in the center. That’s way this element is unhandy in use even when talking and holding the phone in the right hand. The travel is tight, a click is almost insensible.
Now let’s move to the rear cover of the phone. In the bottom part of it you can see the holes of the polyphonic loudspeaker. Nevertheless, it is easy to cover the holes when carrying the handset in a pocket: consequently the loudness becomes two times quieter. The opposite edge of the rear fascia houses a bit embedded one megapixel camera lens framed with a silver ring. The most part of the rear panel doubles as the battery cover. To remove it there is a small deepening for a nail on the right flunk of the body.
The cover fastens without problems, but when pulling it out of the slot you hear annoying crack. When you pull out the cover in this way, you can make sure ones again how fragile the body is, as the cover is made of the soft glossy black plastic.
Our sky-blue sample is commonly etched, thus the paint can hardly be abraded.
Under the cover we see the classical variant of Sony Ericsson ODM-phone, which is likely to be produced on the same factory, as the T280i, as the 900mAh BST-37 Li-Pol battery testifies it.
The battery runs for two days with 20 minutes of talks, 30 minutes of other phone functions and two hours of music play back via A2DP-headset.
If we use wired headset HPM-64 with earbuds from the sales package, the phone runs almost 18 hours in the music play back mode.
Under the battery cover you find a common SIM-card slot and beneath the latter – M2 memory card slot, for the card up to 32GB.
Sony Ericsson W350i is built on the common A100 platform, which is similar to the clamshell W350i. As everything was simplified, you don’t find Active Menu key, thus though there is this function in the phone, you can’t see it. In the stand-by mode the top bar shows signal strength and battery status. These indicators flunk the icons of all kinds of notifications or some active functions. By pressing the volume key you can learn information about phone model as well as the memory status. The brand detailed indication of the battery charge, which is computed in percent, is away as well as Active Menu, as the phone utilizes another power counter.
In the bottom part of the screen you find description of the functions assigned to the soft keys, under which the phone shows date, time or counter/alarm clock indicator. The directions of the navi key can have shortcuts to the most functions of the phone.
The main menu consists of 12 icons. Their refining depends on the presence or absence of the native icons utilized in the theme.
The user interface can be greatly diversified with the help of the functional themes, which include not only the background, but also cursor and icons of the main menu.
The profiles are still limited by 7 add-ons, which can be change by the parameters as follows:
6 profiles may change the names, but the images remain unchangeable.
The phone memory can save up to 2500 phone numbers, which can be fixed among 100 numbers.
To each contact you can set name, mobile number, home number, work number and other phone number. They are followed by fax number, e-mail, web-page, picture, which occupies a half of the screen, when incoming call, ringtone, voice clip, working and home addresses, note, which contains up to 51 symbols, as well as birthday reminder.
The call list is as usual sorted into incoming, outgoing, missed calls, as well as can be shown in bulk.
There is a good mean to create SMS/MMS. As ever, there is a possibility to view the smiles as pictures. The maximal message can contain 1188 symbols.
The MMS serve hasn’t been substantially simplified. The interface is rather nice; a message can be no more than 300KB. You can attach either available audio, photo, video files, or start the applications to create new files (camera, voice recorder).
The messages correctly depict all language package of Unicode-codes. It is handy that all enclosures can be saved in the phone memory.
The handset comes with a traditional alarm clock with five possible ways of reminders. To each of them you can set time, repeat on chosen days, time till the next repeat. As a signal you are enabled to use any supported melody.
There are two types of calendar: monthly or weekly with an hourly schedule for each day. If you choose the day you need, you can quickly create a reminder. The reminders can boast about lots of settings. You are enabled to set any name, start time, duration, warning 5 – 30 minutes before the start, type of repeat (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), as well as to add place of event. In the end you can add a short description of the event. As you see the reminders are not perfect, but they are close to it, considering the fact, that it isn’t a special organizer, but one of the functions of the mobile phone.
The phone has a common text notes. One note can’t exceed 254 symbols.
It is a common timer. You set a time, accurate within seconds and admire the counting in the stand-by mode.
The stopwatch allows to create up to 9 interim values.
Calculator isn’t notable at all. It is a simple tool to perform simplest calculations.
The presence of the code memo is very intrigue. In the rest, the 4-digit password symbolizes only, that these notes are very important.
The phone comes with Bluetooth 2.0 supporting the most profiles, except the direct access to the file system with administrator rights to create and delete files and folders.
The average data transfer speed is 40-60KB/s.
There are three preinstalled JAVA-games in the handset, which are familiar by other Sony Ericsson phones.
Extreme Air Snowboarding
It is a simple snowboard with a pseudo-3D graphic.
The next game is Quadra Pop. This time the segments look like futuristic objects from the theme of space voyage.
The last game is a simulator of the guitar, namely Gameloft. The player should press the keypad buttons in accordance with the showed chords.
2d shapes: 627
3d shapes: 422
Fill rate: 436
Jbenchmark 2: 416
Image manipulation: 241
3d transform: 33
User interface: 1314
Jbenchmark 3d hq: 155
Jbenchmark 3d lq: 247
Triangles pear second: 19149
Ktexels pear second: 1184
Smooth triangles: 27076
Textured triangles: 18721
Fill rate: 674 Ktexels
Gaming: 75 (2,5 fps)
In the application you find collection of midi-samples Music Mate 2 and value converter.
Player is the main function of the phone, as the matter of fact, for it the flip with the outer pseudokeys is used. When you switch on the handset without a SIM-card, you can appraise Fly Mode function after you close the flip. Thus you get a common player Walkman 2.0 at your disposal. As the soft-keys aren’t accessible, when the flip is closed, you don’t find their signatures when working in this mode. The other ways to control the player are sufficient to perform all main operations. For example, to move from the player window into the library you should press the dedicated Walkman key and vice-versa – to go from the library into the player mode press the same key.
When switching on the player you face the music library, which is automatically refreshed when inserting the memory card and switching the handset. You are enabled to sort tracks by albums, artists, genres, composers, and to show them in bulk. To choose a track and repeal the moving to some part you press either the affirmative key and the back key or right-left declines of the navi key.
Playing window is made of the dense set of the large-scale names of track, artist, serial number in the list, progress bar. In the right corner you see a small window of an album cover, while the top part of the screen is customary occupied by the system indicators. The covers are called up from the files tags, thus folder.jbg is unnecessary in the folder of the album.
The sound settings include broaden stereo, as well as the five-ways equalizer, which you are unable to adjust manually or fix yourself another add-on.
The other settings deal with the colour design of the player interface. There is an option allowing the user to turn off the album cover and to choose the color scheme among the three available schemes.
The sound quality is comparable with the other A100-based phones, though the W350i has a bit lower dynamic range of playing, while the high frequency remains on its place despite of the system suppressing overloading in the sound drivers of the program platform.
General performance: Average
THD + Noise (at -3 dB FS)
IMD (swept tones)
The RMAA 5.5 report gives no interesting information, as we deal with the handset which doesn’t pretend to be a desired purchase of the fan of high-quality sound. On the other hand, the sound quality is good enough for those, who need more the basses and loudness sufficient when in the metro. The wireless headsets, for example, Sony Ericsson HBH DS970 or DS200, do not react, when the loudness is changed. The sound in the headset suffers from the lack of the high frequencies. The HPM 82 on the contrary correctly switches the tracks, so you can replace with it the HPM64 from the sales pack.
The phone is equipped with a built-in FM-radio, which supports RDS and allows to save in the memory up to 20 radio stations.
The phone comes with a common 1.3megapixel camera on board, which doesn’t support even video recording. The camera is necessary only to use the stills in the phone.
The view finder in the shooting mode occupies the half of the vertically oriented screen. The directions of the navigational key change either the scale or the brightness. The other standard settings are white balance, colour effects, shooting mode, resolution and picture quality.
The signal receive level is a bit worse than in other handsets of the company, but you can notice this difference only when intentionally comparing the devices in condition of the very weak signal. In most situations in a city, the phone has no problems with the signal receiving.
The earpiece is one third quieter than those installed in the most A200-based phones. It can be compared with the one utilized in the T280i and the K790i. Though the insufficient loudness is made up with a soft voice rendering and good elaboration of the main frequency range. The polyphonic loudspeaker plays a bit louder than the average one, but it plays not like the most modern phones. It can boast about clear basses, which are distinct when playing back. We can remember the similar phone – Sony Ericsson W900i, which dynamic doesn’t have good quality, but louder than the other phones. The W350i has in fact a vibrating mechanism, which is useless, as it has a quiet vibration and can be felt only when the device lies in the hand.
Compact and eye-catching Sony Ericsson W350i can by right be one of the most interesting solutions in the summer among the phones of the Middle End segment. Its advantages are similarity to common players, nice flip, good program platform A100 and acceptable screen. The targeted buyer will not be upset by the utilized materials and different colour schemes, while Walkman brand also remains popular among the unpretentious buyers. If you need a small phone for talks and music playback, the W350i can provide you with a good ergonomics of player managing and acceptable sound quality. If you are interested in the flip, this one doesn’t give you mach interesting, as in this model it just adds the whole concept.
It isn’t a hard task to describe a targeted buyer, since the phone has for two months been sold in the shops. The buyers are the young energetic people aged 15-26, which don’t scrutinize each solution in order to find the best Ultimate-solution. They just need a small light phone with a headset and a memory card. Mainly the users use this phone to make calls, which are accompanied by the showy sound of the opening flip. It is funny, but the preinstalled content with the songs of Jenifer Lopez corresponds to the most part of the buyers. If you want to use this device as the supplement to your handset from the Top End segment, you should be ready, that you will be bored with the phone in a month. And the impression from the flip also will get negative.
The specific character of the measurement of SAR value in Sony Ericsson phone also affected on the result of the W350i, as 1.24 W/kg is too much.
© Written by Tikhonov Valeriy, Mobiset.ru
Translated by Arina Urban.
Published — 16 September 2008.
Read full version of the article: http://eng.mobiset.ru/articles/text/?id=59