Camera – excellent colours, bad performance
W910 has a 2 mega pixel fixed focus camera on the back. Fixed focus means that the focus of the camera can’t be set, making it impossible to get high quality close-ups and hard to get pretty landscape pictures without having a great loss of detail like leaves on a tree being really blurry and almost fading into each other. The camera is also lacking a flash.
The camera interface is the new and was introduced with the A200 software platform. It reminds you of the K850’s camera interface, but lots of features are missing and the design is different. The new interface has a nice feature when browsing through the settings – if you hover any setting it’ll automatically pop-up as a sub menu. This is much easier than having to press every icon before being able to set the settings.
The prior amount of short cuts mapped to a selected number of buttons on the keypad are missing. All you can do now is press ‘0’ to bring up a help window, where it is shown that the two gaming keys above the screen (A & B, as they are called) will act like Shoot mode-short cut and Night mode-short cut. Furthermore you are able to change the lighting settings (± 2.0 lux) and of course use the digital zoom – however this can’t be used in full 2 mega pixel resolution and will only give you a maximal zoom of 2.5 x in VGA resolution (0.3 mega pixel) only. It also seems like there is a zoom bug, because the phone gets extremely laggy when using the digital zoom. The up and down navigation keys can be used for switching between Camera, Video recorder and finally the photo gallery, where your last shot will be showcased. Here is a total overview of Settings on W910 camera:
- Shoot mode – Normal, Panorama, Frames & Burst
- Picture size – 2 MP (1600 x 1200 pixels), 1 MP (1280 x 960 pixels) & VGA (640 x 480 pixels)
- Night mode – Off & On
- Self-timer – Off & On
- White balance – Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent & Incandescent
- Effects – Off, Black & white, Negative & Sepia
- Settings – Picture quality (Fine & Normal), Review (On & Off), Save to (Mem. card & Phone mem.), Auto rotate (On & Off), Shutter sound (Sound 1, Sound 2, Sound 3, Sound 4 & Off) & Reset counter.
OK, enough about the settings and general camera background info. Lets have a look at how the W910’s pictures come out (press to enlarge).
As you can see it is very clear that there’s a great loss of detail in the pictures. Areas with lots of details often get blurred out both detail and colour wise – sometimes it might even look like a water coloured painting or an effect that has been applied to the photo. In order to snap the best photos with W910 you’ll have to do it in great light conditions (preferably around noon on a bright summer day) and the subject has to be about 1 meter away from the camera (because of the fixed focus). W910 doesn’t manage dark environments that well not only because a flash is lacking, but also because the shutter speed is very slow making the pictures blurry. Although the phone tries to prevent this by turning up the ISO level (and thereby also the amount of noise), it fails terribly at doing so. Luckily W910 comes with PhotoFix which can do minor fixing regarding to light and colours, but this rarely works out the way you want and you’ll have to manually edit the photo in PhotoDJ afterwards to get the best result. None of this can be recommended though as it’s all digital processing and making a dark photo more bright will only cause more noise.
Videos can be recording in a maximum resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA) and with 15 frames per second. The quality is fairly good, but can’t be compared to other alternatives on the market that can record in both a higher resolution, better quality and a better frame rate. Just about all photo settings can be used in video mode, too.
The photo viewer is excellent and is found in the Media menu just like the audio and video player is. You can browse through different categories – latest photos, camera album, photo tags and at last pictures, where all pictures from the “Picture” folder in file manager is shown. If you choose to browse the camera album, the photos will be sorted by month. There are nice effects in the album, like when pressing a thumbnail picture, it’ll smoothly enlarge and end up filling up the display. You can tag the photos (i.e. if you’ve been to the zoo, then it’ll be easier to find only the photos from the zoo) and there’s also an option to play a slide show of the photos. X-Pict Story is the name of the slide show application and it enables lots of effects when the slide show is playing. You can listen to moody melodies and there are also quite a few effects on the photos, like panning and zooming.
Triumphs as a music phone
W910 has the new Walkman 3.0 music player. The most noticeable changes compared to version 2.0 is the enhanced navigation, overview and addition of a few features such as SensMe and ShakeControl.
SensMe is used for splitting up songs into different categories depending on mood and tempo. In my opinion it’s pretty useless and it requires that the media software, that comes with the W910, has analysed all the songs and transferred them to the phone through the same software. It doesn’t sound like being much of a problem, but this piece of software is extremely RAM hungry, imprecise, laggy and slow! It’s about five times faster to transfer to files without the software, but then songs can’t be used with SensMe.
ShakeControl is a rather nifty feature, which makes use of the built-in accelerometer in W910. Just hold down the Walkman-button on the top of the phone while the music is playing and start shaking the phone like a mad dog! For every shake, the phone will change song. Again, this is probably just meant as a show-off feature and it is easier to randomize the play list and then press the D-pad for the next song.
So lets start the music playing… The phone accepts most audio codecs – M4A, MP3, AAC, AAC+, E-AAC+, WAV, WMA, etc., so there shouldn’t be any problems on this front. If you’re not happy about the way the music is being played, you can always choose to set a equalizer setting or do a manual one. It also features MegaBass. You can hide the Walkman player if you want, so you can do other things while listening to music. A single press on the Walkman button at the top will minimize it and another press will open it again. The player is really nice looking and very easy to use. It’ll take you less than a minute to get familiar with everything.
So, what’s the audio quality like? Generally it’s very good, but when it’s at full volume it can get a bit distorted. You should try to keep it at 6 (6,5) / 8 in terms of volume level. At this volume level the audio is clear and good. The bass is nice, too.
It is possible to change the visualization to either display to album cover or one of five different visualizations (waves, Walkman lines, inner twirl, circles, album lines) or no visualization at all. It is of course also possible to use a repeat and randomize feature when listening to music.
A cool feature is that when entering the Walkman player the light in the soft keys and around turns orange instead of the normal green/red/white colours.
W910 has a built-in FM radio, too, which works when a headset is plugged in. It’s very good and because of the RDS you won’t loss the signal when driving around – it’ll automatically find the local frequency for the radio show, you were listening to. You can save up to 20 radio frequencies (can be done automatically). There are quite a few settings and the radio can be considered one of the best ever on a mobile phone. TrackID, as mentioned earlier, is a feature that can be used with the radio. It’ll sample a few seconds of the song on the radio, send the sample off to Gracenote and finally return with details about the song, artist, album, a link to purchase the song (operator dependent), etc. All in all, it works very nicely.
Gaming is a true pleasure
The W910 comes bundled with three games: Lumines Block Challenge, Marble Madness and V-Rally 3D. The two last ones are 3D games and are in my opinion also the most exciting ones, but for the sake of good, lets start off with Lumines Block Challenge.
Lumines Block Challenge is a puzzle game, where the object of the game is to match up falling blocks and create patterns. I never really found out to to play the game because it seemed so awfully boring (sorry, Gameloft!). The game has gotten good reviews, though, so it might just be me.
Marble Madness is an exciting game, which is also bundled on W910’s camera focused sibling, the K850. The object of the game is to steer a big marble through a set of challenges before finally getting it in the goal area. There are lots of levels and bonus levels, and when a challenge (a series of five levels) has been completed, you will be awarded with special content like wallpapers and a ring tone. The marble can be controlled using either the keypad or the built-in motion sensor in W910. The easiest way is by using the keypad, but the other option is way cooler and so much more fun! The graphics of the game are quite good.
V-Rally 3D is in my opinion the best game of them all and I have been playing this game for a year or so (had it on some of my previous phones as well)! It is a racing game, as you might have guessed already, and it is simply one of the best ever. There are 12 different racing tracks (3 countries) split up in four different championships. To start off with there’s only one championship unlocked, but when this gets completed, another one will be unlocked and so will one new car and three new tracks be. There is a total of four different cars in the game. The game play is excellent and makes use of very few controls. In the game there is a voice warning you when you should be careful of how the upcoming road is and when to turn left, right and such. It’s a nice feature, but can get a bit annoying. The graphics are excellent with exception of the world textures, that could have been done slightly better.
As I started off with review by saying, the W910 is a Quad-band GSM phone with EDGE, UMTS & tri-band 3.6 Mbps HSDPA-support. Furthermore it has Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (transfer speeds at about 130 KB/s) and it supports A2DP, which is the stereo audio streaming Bluetooth profile. It supports USB 2.0, which works fine and fast in USB mass storage mode.
The web browser in W910 is NetFront 3.4 and it seems to be working OK for minor things and browsing mobile formatted websites. It can handle full HTML websites as well but not all are shown correctly on the display. I must say that I had expected more from this web browser, but it is without doubt the best when comparing to the alternatives in other feature phones. The web browser has a Google search feature, so you can do a Google search at all time.
W910 has a RSS reader built-in, which can be found under Messaging in the menu. This one works very well and you have the option to display the RSS feeds on the standby screen, which is cool.
I have yet to set up my email accounts on W910, so I can’t really comment on that. However, according to several other reviews, the email client has been enhanced, and I certainly liked the old one, so I doubt the new one will be worse!