Key SpecificationsReview Price: £79.993in 240x400 px screenProprietary OS3.2-megapixel cameraZappin shuffle functionWi-Fi
The Sony Ericsson set Walkman is having an identity crisis. It’s part MP3 player, part smartphone-wannabe and part budget feature phone, cutting out features lớn shed pounds. The result is an ill-conceived, often-overpriced and deceptively underequipped phone that would need to lớn lower its price significantly khổng lồ be in with a chance of winning a half-hearted recommendation.
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The brand is still used in Sony’s rather great dedicated MP3 players like the NWZ-A845 and NWZ-A866, but it is rarely seen as prominently in phones as it is in the Sony Ericsson set Walkman mobile. Could it be because this phone is grasping for a reason, an excuse, khổng lồ exist?
From a casual glance, it looks a lot lượt thích a budget smartphone. It has a 3in touchscreen, a single home button on the front, but it’s chubbier and a bit gaudier than most budget game android or Symbian phones. Between the glossy black front and the matt soft-touch plastic battery cover is a band of bright rubbery plastic. Our đánh giá model had a lime green one attached and a silver one stashed in the box, but bright pink and more subdued bronze editions also exist.
You can pull this strip away from the body, altering the look just by quickly popping off the battery cover & switching these bands around. With the silver band on, it’s a much classier-looking handset, but the Sony Ericsson set still looks & feels more lượt thích a £50 phone than one that sells for just under £100. The back is lumbered with too many cluttering bits including speaker ports và logos while the 14mm thickness is chunky và the style lacks coherence. The colourful strip may make the phone look a “bit different”, but that doesn’t equate lớn the phone looking good. It’s uninspiring stuff at best.
The body does offer some unusual buttons, though. There’s a shutter button on the right edge, pretty unusual at this budget level, and there are two Walkman buttons up top. They take you to lớn the media player & the Zappin function, which we’ll cover later. It’s enough to just-about justify the phone’s Walkman status, but chú ý that there aren’t actually any direct playback buttons – no play/pause, no fast forward và rewind.
The internal memory also limits the set Walkman’s potential as a music player. Fresh out of the box there’s just over 100MB of miễn phí internal memory, barely enough for an album encoded at a decent bit-rate. Yes, the memory is expandable và microSD cards are very cheap, but it’s no way for a “music player” phone lớn make a good impression.
Like the touchscreen-led design, the Sony Ericsson mix Walkman’s interface has a go at convincing the ill-informed that it’s a smartphone. Using the corner shortcut layout seen in the Xperia range’s neat little smartphones, it’s reminiscent of dinky Androids like the Xperia X10 Mini.
Any phone function can be put into these four corner shortcut spots, & the shortcuts appear on both of the two home screens. Before you get excited at the mention of home screens, hold back. They don’t vì chưng much. One houses a clock while the other displays the favourite contacts list. It looks like a cover flow system, but is static. Lượt thích so much of the set Walkman, early promise falls apart like a talcum power nguồn statue as soon as you look beyond the surface detail.
Delve into the favourite contacts “widget” and there’s a bit more to lớn it than just phone numbers, as it collates their Facebook and Twitter updates as well as text messages and call logs – but using it is hopelessly clumsy and, at times, broken. Contacts have lớn be manually linked to lớn each of their social network accounts, & the mix Walkman continually refused to links with Twitter, even while signed-into the built-in Twitter app.
The dedicated Twitter & Facebook apps are less problematic – at least they work – but are in reality little more than web links to the services’ di động sites. The giveaways are the browser navigation bar at the bottom và the URL bar at the top. This, along with limited connectivity features ensure this isn’t a particularly good social networking phone. There’s no 3G connectivity, so tweeting a picture taken with the phone’s camera when when out of the house is a slow process. So is looking at other people’s pics, although the built-in EDGE connectivity is just about quick enough khổng lồ make downloading text tweets and updates bearable.
At home, this situation improves. The Sony Ericsson Walkman mix has Wi-Fi, letting the phone suck data off your trang chủ broadband, or the Wi-Fi hotspots of cafes và restaurants. At the best of times, though, this phone is no match for a budget game android phone lượt thích the Huawei Blaze or Orange San Francisco. Every time you run one of the phone’s connected apps, you’re asked whether or not khổng lồ allow smartphone internet access – a question that seems rather redundant when you’re accessing Facebook, và one that quickly becomes annoying.
All of the Mix’s apps & games are java-based, making them largely incapable of the kind of behind-the-scenes activity that điện thoại cảm ứng thông minh alternatives are all about. It’s not a good way lớn keep up with emails, requiring manual updates and using a rather basic look. Games tend to look very basic and dated too.
Additional apps và games for the phone are sparse too. There’s no proper app store here, just a liên kết to Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow WAP portal. This offers no real apps as such, but does have a bunch of additional games, plus wallpapers, music and ringtones. The price of each is much higher than the điện thoại thông minh norm though, games usually costing £3 a pop. The one positive thing lớn say about the Sony Ericsson phối Walkman’s low-rent interface is that it’s all operated using a fairly responsive capacitive touchscreen. This is the same kind of công nghệ used in the iPhone 4, và means you don’t have khổng lồ press down on the screen khổng lồ get it to lớn respond – tương tác alone is enough. However, if it had used a resistive screen, at its price it would deserve to be paraded through the streets while being pelted with tomatoes.
With a 3in widescreen, Sony Ericsson has sensibly left you with T9 numerical keypad input đầu vào rather than a full Qwerty. This keyboard is used when typing out text messages & in the mặc định web browser. The predictive dictionary is pretty limited, though, & typing-out words manually to lớn get them added khổng lồ its library feels clumsy và slow. We also wished an option lớn use a full Qwerty in landscape mode had been included – as there’s enough space when held lượt thích this. Instead, you’re stuck with the T9 pad.
A “dumb” phone selling for điện thoại cảm ứng thông minh money, the Sony Ericsson mix Walkman’s one defence is that it’s all about the music, not apps & Angry Birds. However, this line of argument doesn’t get it very far.
There’s no bundled microSD card và the internal memory only offers enough storage for one album. Memory is expandable – there’s a microSD slot under the battery – but fresh out of its packaging, it’s pretty much useless as a music player.
Undeterred, we loaded up a microSD card with tunes to lớn see if its software is much cop. Press the Walkman button on the phone’s top & you’re taken directly to lớn the media player. It uses the corner shortcut layout seen throughout the interface. These take you lớn your library, show the current playlist (or album), và give you access lớn the Zap and Karaoke functions.
Zappin is Sony’s own take on a tuy vậy preview mode. This plays you either a đoạn phim of each song lasting just a few seconds or around 15 seconds, skipping lớn the next afterwards unless you press the Zappin button up top. It’s a neat enough idea, but the execution completely puts us off using it. “Zapping in”, “Zapping out” & moving between tracks are all accompanied by whoosing or spoken sound effects. Maybe the kids will enjoy it, but we find it utterly tasteless and a bit embarrassing.
The Karaoke feature is sure to appeal to a similarly niche audience, but at least it doesn’t limit its appeal through its technique. It effectively removes the central channel, where lead vocals tend khổng lồ be mixed, in order lớn turn normal tracks into backing tracks. It’ll also display lyrics if they’ve been added to your MP3s. Basic ID3 tagging won’t bởi vì this. It works pretty well.
These secondary features are ones you’ll find in Sony’s dedicated MP3 players, but these are richer in those dedicated players. There’s no pitch altering, no tốc độ changing here – hardly essential but handy if you vày want to get your Karaoke on. Our personal highlight of Sony Walkman’s partly-superfluous features is SenseMe. This scans through your music và splits it into moods, effectively making playlists for you. There’s an option for this within the Mix’s music player, but it doesn’t split up tracks for you like the NWZ-A866 will. Instead you have khổng lồ get your computer to vị that for you, before syncing the music lớn your phone. Who would have thought an MP3 player would have more power than a phone these days?
Once stocked with albums, the set offers a perfectly decent music experience. Navigation’s fine, cover art displays và the audio output quality is solid if unremarkable. However, when its extra features aren’t worth shouting about, & there’s not a full complement of playback buttons, its musical ability won’t trounce any other half-decent £80-100 phone with a 3.5mm tai nghe jack. The supplied MH140 earphones are well above average for a bundled pair, though, offering decent bass and clarity. But they leak sound, offer no isolation and aren’t as comfortable as an IEM-style pair – in our opinion.
The browsing experience is more notable, but not for a good reason. There are two separate website browsers pre-installed – Sony Ericsson’s own stab and Opera Mini, probably the most popular “third party” phone browser. The interface of each is good enough, but hampered by a number of technical limitations. The screen, at 240×400 pixels and 155dpi, is very low-res, there’s no multi-touch tư vấn and without 3G connectivity, it’s too slow to load full web pages unless you’re on a Wi-Fi connection.
The Sony Ericsson phối has a basic 3.2-megapixel camera. There’s no flash & it’s fixed focus, but there are a few features missing from most affordable alternatives, most notably the dedicated camera button.
This, in tandem with the fixed focus, makes taking pictures pretty quick. With an autofocus sensor, you’d have to wait for the camera lớn hone-in on its subject. It does limit the kind of photos you can take, though. Try và get a shot of something up close and it’ll be blurry, but we’ve seen worse performance in phones of this spec. As you can see below, while the berry-like bits on the branches aren’t entirely sharp, they’re not a blurry mess either.
Unusual even in a budget phone, you’re given no control over the camera’s settings. The camera ứng dụng uses the corner shortcut layout adopted throughout, but these only give you access to lớn the gallery, the stills/video switch và a touchscreen shutter button. Manual settings are of limited use in such a low-powered camera anyway, but panorama & burst shot modes would have been appreciated – and the lack of some fun effects seem like an oversight in an arguably youth-oriented device.
Call quality is decent if unspectacular. The earpiece speaker is nice và loud, but there’s no noise cancellation khổng lồ combat noisy environments.
The mix Walkman is powered by a 1000mAh battery. This is a bog-standard capacity for a small-screen phone like this, but the phone lasts longer than a proper điện thoại thông minh because it doesn’t have 3G và its apps don’t secretly pay poker with each other while the phone’s in your pocket. Under normal nonintensive use, it can last for a solid 2-3 days off a charge. Phối it lớn more intensive tasks & the battery performance is thoroughly unremarkable.
The Sony Ericsson set Walkman would seem like an OK khuyến mãi if its price were lowered, but, as is, it competes with fully-fledged smartphones. And it doesn’t come off too well. There’s no 3G, no GPS (ruling out using the phone to lớn find out where you are) và there are no worthwhile apps here. Its Walkman cred can’t hóa trang for these gaps and its generally good-looking UI is all surface và no substance. It falls well short of earning a recommendation. Seek out the Samsung Galaxy Europa or Orange San Francisco for the real điện thoại package, or look to lớn spend less.
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Verdict The Sony Ericsson mix Walkman wills buyers to lớn believe it’s a smartphone, with an interface that looks snazzy và seems to offer plenty of connected functionality at a quick glance. The problem is that it isn’t, & doesn’t. There’s no 3G connectivity, và while Wi-Fi is on-board the clumsy implementation of built-in apps makes web browsing và social networking feel clunkier than it would with other phones.