The name is Stylish… Extremely Stylish
W960 is Sony Ericsson’s first music-oriented attempt at making a relatively small smart phone while still packing lots of features in it (business-oriented attempt was the very successful P1). In my opinion they’ve done a very good job – the phone is a mere 109 x 55 x 16 millimetres in size and it only weighs 119 grams, making it both smaller and lighter than P1. Pretty amazing (keeping in mind that it’s got a large 2.6 inch screen and many features). The phone comes in Vinyl Black colour only, and while the colour itself is fine, Sony Ericsson should have launched at least one other colour variant. It’s not really too much of a problem since the black one is very stylish looking.
The front is made of glossy plastic which feels rather good when using the relatively small keypad and it makes it easier to clean the display. The display is at level with the rest of the phone which is excellent and it feels much better to use it like this than on P1, where the display is lowered a bit compared to the rest of the phone. Furthermore, the display is protected by a plastic layer on top of the display.
The rubberised back on W960 feels very good and it gives you a good grip when using it. The back of W960 houses the camera and the large speaker. The camera is left unprotected with no lens cover. You’ll also find the plastic stylus – which feels a bit cheap – on the right top corner on the back. The battery is well protected by a good battery cover.
On the left side of the W960, you’ll find a strap eyelet, jog dial and an engraved Walkman logo. The right side houses the camera button, zoom/volume keys and a show-off-sign saying “8 GB”.
The bottom houses nothing extraordinary – the usual FastPort connector and of course the microphone. The power button is located at the top of the phone.
The battery cover on W960 is very good and feels extremely sturdy. No chances of the battery falling out when dropping the phone or any other sort of loose connections. Underneath the battery is the SIM card holder and phone infos. The battery is a standard BST-33 (900 mAh) and the official battery life times are 370 hours of standby time and 9 hours of (2G-)calling. The battery seems quite good and does relatively good in terms of staying alive – I have to charge it every other day.
Best UIQ 3.0 ever
So, lets start off with the geeky stuff. W960’s operating system is Symbian OS 9.1 with UIQ 3.0 user interface. It’s got 128 megabytes of RAM memory (73.6 megabytes on fresh boot) and a 220 MHz CPU. Furthermore it supports OpenGL (which basically has something to do with hardware accelerated graphics). So, what does this mean in a normal everyday English? It’s good a good operating system with great multitasking features, and is capable of running high quality graphics games as well 🙂
OK, enough with the geeky stuff. W960 is known as the most highly animated smart phone ever from Sony Ericsson. And well, honestly, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the menu system and such – if you don’t count the slow transition effects – that can be turned off, if needed – of course. It’s the Walkman player, but more about this later on in the review. W960 is running Symbian, which means you can set up the menu icons pretty much how you like them to be – either list or grid view. You can add and remove the applications to the main menu and of course also sort them into other folders and so on. There’s no option to change the menu icons, unless you start hacking the firmware, which is rather complicated and not really worth doing at the moment (lack of knowledge in this area).
The menu system offers three soft keys (on the screen) and both a physical and virtual back key. The soft key on the left is rarely used in the system, and is mainly for applications. The centre soft key is for selecting and performing actions (such as “Write new message”), while the one on the right is the Settings-soft key, so to speak. It usually houses the “More” fly-out menus for additional settings, etc.
The stylus pen can be used in most situations (about 99% of the time, I guess), but with the W960 it’s not necessary to use it all the time. The interface has been improved compared to, say P990, so there’s more room for finger input.
Overall, I’d say that UIQ 3.0 performs its very best on W960 (and P1 for that matter). Former Sony Ericsson smartphones running UIQ 3.0 – M600, P990 & W950 – don’t even come close when talking about stability, multitasking and general joy of use. It seems like Sony Ericsson and UIQ Technology have finally found the perfect recipe for a stable OS.
Comes with office applications, too!
Being that W960 is a smartphone based on Symbian OS, it supports third party applications and games, that can make your phone even better and enhance its functionality. W960 comes with lots of pre installed applications. Among these are Opera Mobile 8.65 (default web browser), QuickOffice, Pdf+ and Exchange ActiveSync. Of course these are just a few, and Sony Ericsson offers loads of other applications and games – there’s even a menu option for “More applications” in the Multimedia menu. Here you can try out lots of applications and games for free, and buy if you decide so!
If we shall have a look at the more business related applications on W960, we’ll find the excellent calendar, the nice note application with full support of both keypad and touch screen input (drawings, etc.), to do-list, QuickOffice with Word and Excel editing (go for DocsToGo if you need a better application, though!), Pdf+ for PDF-viewing and finally a business card scanner. Simply snap a picture of the business card and the application will scan the picture and look for details. When it’s done, it has created a new contact and gives you a chance to edit, if there should be any mistakes. This is extremely nice!
‘Normal’ applications like calculator, file manager, alarms and stop watch are to be found in the Tools menu.
But W960 is not all about work in mono coloured suits and such. It’s also meant as a fun device to use, which is why it has several small and funny applications and games – lets start with the applications. You have a good video player with support for a large amount of file types, on-line music and video streaming, MusicDJ and of course a voice recorder with added functionality (TrackID). Now, lets move on to the games! The amount of preloaded games isn’t great, there are only two. These are Vijay Singh Pro Golf 3D, which is an absolutely amazing golf game, and also QuadraPop, which is an arcade game, many people might find quite amusing.