By Michell Bak, 17th of July 2007
The Sony Ericsson W880 is the World’s thinnest Walkman (phone) ever! It’s measuring in at only 9.4 millimetres in depth, which makes it fit perfectly in every pocket. It features the second generation Walkman player for mobile phones, which has a couple of enhancements compared to the first version – but more about that later on. If you compare W880 with W850, you will not find many differences. The main difference – of course – is the size, as W880 is over 40 grams lighter than W850, yet the only difference on the features is the lack of FM-radio and a smaller – yet similar spec’d – screen.The W880 comes in two colours – black and silver, where I find the silver one being the best looking. But both are really hot & sexy and definitely in a class of their own. As said, the W880 is light – only 71 grams. The dimensions are 103 x 46.5 x 9.4 millimetres – in other words, a really nice format.
As also mentioned in my K550 review the keys are a bit weird looking, however they’re not bad to use. They’re a bit too small for my taste, but I doubt that the keypad will make people think twice about buying it. The front looks very stylish and I haven’t met anybody, who didn’t fell in love with the looks of this phone. It’s simply marvellous. On the front you have your numeric keypad, soft keys, navigation-pad, short cut-buttons and “action”-buttons (delete and back). The sides are very plain, and on the left side you’ll find a Walkman-player short cut, Memory Stick Micro (M2) slot and the connector. Right side features the volume / zoom-buttons (these are a bit special, as they are not separated into two buttons, but instead it’s a slider, where you slide it up and down) and the camera shutter-button. On the back is the 2 mega pixel camera without auto focus (oh, what a shame!) and the loud speaker, which isn’t that loud and clear, actually.
W880 supports Flash – and thereby you can have Flash menus directly on your phone, which is really cool. There are three Flash themes (and thereby three different menus in Flash) and one theme with the original Sony Ericsson menu. I definitely like the Flash themes the most – not only because of the menu’s look, but also because of the wallpaper. When applying one of the Flash themes, it swaps the wallpaper with a new one in Flash. Now, not only is this way cool (because of the many variants of animations), but it’s also functional. When listening to music, the wallpaper starts animating an equalizer that fits to the music as well as song information (song name, artist and album). That’s cool! As always, Sony Ericsson’s menus are probably one of the most easiest ones to use and you’ll get a hang of it in no time. You can use either Bluetooth, MMS or e-mail to send your photos, music and such. There’s no support for infra-red, but I never use it, so it doesn’t bug me.
Not a camera phone
The W880 is definitely not marketed as being a camera phone. And it isn’t. Yet, it does have some – for it’s kind – pretty advanced camera/photo features, such as photoDJ (a simple editor with features like contrast, lighting and effects) and of course the camera has some features – among these are image quality-setting, different effects, image size, shoot modes, white balance, shutter sound and more. All in all it seems fairly advanced, yet it’s missing a few features, that the brother series Cyber-Shot has.
The camera resolution is at 2 mega pixels (1600 x 1200 pixels = 1.92 mega pixels in reality). It lacks auto focus and a photo light. That’s sad, but again, it’s targeted to another segment, which is music. But more about that later on.
The camera photos aren’t that sharp (lack of auto focus, again), but they seem very colourful and bright, when light conditions are good. In dark conditions photos tend to get noisy and very dark. Videos recorded with the phone aren’t that good either. They’re too small (176 x 144) and the quality is barely accepted. The phone also has a video editor called videoDJ, that’s pretty cool and gets the job done quickly. It’s not as advanced as the one in e.g. N95, but it’s definitely a lot faster.
Here are a few camera samples
You can check out a video sample here.
Fair for gaming
The W880 is pretty good for gaming, although it doesn’t score that high in Java tests. It only comes with one game, which is Quadra Pop. It’s a tetris like game just with music nodes and such instead of blocks. It’s a bit boring in the long run, and I’d have loved some real action games on this phone. So I installed a few 3D games to test out the 3D Java engine in W880, and it’s about average. When trying Digital Chocolate’s Coaster Rush 3D it was pretty laggy. Compared to N95, it’s really slow, because N95 has advanced hardware accelerated graphics and runs the game very smoothly.
There are a few music applications installed in the phone, but that’s really nothing to write home about…
Great, but small screen
The phone has a QVGA resolution screen and is capable of showing up to 262.144 colours. It’s only 1.8 inches big – or should I say small?- but this also means, that the image is really crisp and detailed. It’s viewable in sunlight, but a bit pale compared to other phones like K800 & K810.
As being a Walkman phone, W880 has the Walkman player – actually, it has the second edition of it, which is the newest available at the moment. Version three was announced along with the W910, but won’t be available till Q4 this year. Back to this version… Walkman 2.0 brings a few new features as well as a new user interface, which works quite well. With version 2.0 you can add album covers to your music, play animations – also referred to as visualizations (cool flash animations that keeps on doing new things), themes-support (you can’t install your own, though), stereo widening and on-line music. The new user interface is definitely much better than the old one, and it looks a lot more sleek. It works like a charm and you’ll get to know it in no time. Music quality is very high, and the bundled earphones are of excellent quality. The loud speaker isn’t that great, though. You can listen to your music wirelessly in stereo through Bluetooth as it supports the A2DP profile. It lacks a radio, which is a real bummer.
The TrackID feature is also present in W880. In short, this is a music application that records a short sample of some music, and then sends it off to Gracenote’s huge database, where it’s being analyzed and sent back to the phone with the information about the song in a link. Press the link and you’ll be able to see artist, song and album name. Also, on some operators you’ll even get a link to where you can buy this song. It works like a charm, and is also being introduced in other non-walkman-branded phones.
The phone comes bundled with a 1 gigabyte Memory Stick Micro, which can hold about 250 songs in MP3 format or about 700 in eAAC+.
The W880 pretty much features everything in the phone book as any other Sony Ericsson phone. This means that it’s fast and has room for the most important information about your contacts, such as full name, different phone numbers, e-mail addresses, web page, notes, birthday, photo, address and job-title. Sound quality in calls is pretty good, although the speaker feels a bit metallic and hisses, when it gets loud.
SMS as well as MMS works great, and there are no problems whatsoever here. I’d even say that Sony Ericsson probably has the best SMS and MMS editors on the market at this point in time. Way to go! E-mail client was updated around the K800 time, and is working pretty good.
Overall W880 seems like a really nice phone for people, who doesn’t need smartphone capabilities. It does it’s job, and it does it well. For music it’s truly a great phone, and that’s where it’s targeted at doing great, although it’s lacking a radio. Anyhow, it’s a mission accomplished, Sony Ericsson!