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Sony Ericsson W950i review

How does a fancy touchscreen and the return of the jog dial stack up for gamers?
 Handset: Sony Ericsson W950i 
by Dave Oliver
Sony Ericsson's latest Walkman incarnation looks and feels very different to previous versions, and indeed, most mobile phones. It's a thin, wide brick of a handset, with a compact keypad and large touchscreen, and well thought out options for using it one or two-handed.

It's a bit chubbier than you might expect, but that helps it to nestle easily in the hand and give better access to the jog dial and backspace buttons on the left side. Yes, surprisingly Sony Ericsson has brought back its love-it-or-hate-it jog dial, which seemed to disappear from most of its models a year or two ago.

It still doesn't feel particularly natural for this shovel-handed reviewer, but with a bit of practise, it's easy enough to navigate the menus one-handed. If you've got two hands though, it makes more sense to use the supplied stylus for tapping on the touchscreen.

The bright, 262,000-colour screen looks impressive at first sight, coping well in direct sunlight, and it's nice to have the extra touchscreen functionality. But, like the average trouser snake in the wee hours of New Year's Eve, it's not the most sensitive organ in the world, and the delay between pressing it and any actual action can be annoying.
As the Nintendo DS has already famously proven, a touchscreen does add an extra level to some games, however. The Tetris-style Quadrapop, for instance, feels much more natural when you can drag-and-drop the falling musical notes rather than moving them with the more traditional buttons.

There's also the one-handed option, of course, which is entirely feasible if one of your mitts is otherwise engaged, but even after some fairly intense training sessions, using the jog dial offers fairly slow movement around the screen. Not bad for low-intensity games such as The Sims 2 or the supplied Nightclub Empire, where you have to build up a sound system and clientele in various happenin' nightspots, but it's far from ideal for fast shoot-'em-ups.

The speaker mounted on the rear of the W950i offers fairly decent stereo effect sound that's better than most onboard speakers, though it's improved greatly by the decent quality headphones supplied.

The phone comes with a hefty 4GB of onboard memory, but surprisingly, there's no option to expand this with one of Sony Ericsson's Memory Stick Duo cards. There's no camera either, but it has got the latest Walkman music player (which includes album art), easily accessed by the dedicated buttons on the front.

There's also an FM radio, Bluetooth and infrared connectivity, a hunt and peck onscreen keyboard for text and email, and a dedicated button for quick voice notes.

This is a phone that will probably appeal most to business types with no need for a camera, and who may even find one a liability; some security-conscious companies can get a bit iffy about cameras. It's got a very good music player, a wide range of connectivity options, and it comes with a load of optional, mostly office-oriented apps. As a gaming device though, the W950i won't be anybody's first choice.

Reviewer photo
Dave Oliver 5 January 2007
Great for office warriors who hanker for their musical roots, but nothing special for gamers
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Specs Available inWorldwide
Modes3G, 900, 1900
Band typetri
Built In Memoryn/a
Removable Memory TypeMicroSD
Primary screencolour
Number of coloursn/a
Screen size240 x 320 pixels
Secondary screennone
Polyphonic ringtonesn/a
Camera Resolution2.0 megapixels
Music formatsn/a
Infrared portno
Messaging Optionsn/a
MMS supportyes
Voice controlyes
Predictive textyes
SAR rating1.35W/kg
Phonebook entriesn/a
Number of included ringtonesn/a
Downloadable extrasyes
Size106 x 54 x 15mm
Talk time7.5 hours
Standby time340 hours
Other featuresFM radio, Walkman music player, stereo Bluetooth, PlayNow, USB 2.0 connectivity
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