Sony Ericsson W380i

Stylish Walkman clamshell featuring gesture controls

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Sony Ericsson W380i
  • Sony Ericsson W380i
  • Sony Ericsson W380i
  • Sony Ericsson W380i

Pros

  • Design, gesture control, touch-sensitive music controls, M2 card slot

Cons

  • No 3G, no outstanding features, external display is hazy, mediocre camera

Bottom Line

As long as you don’t require 3G connectivity, this is a fair entry-level handset with excellent music capabilities. There aren’t any real outstanding features but the W380i remains a solid performer.

Would you buy this?

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An entry-level handset aimed largely at people after a pre-paid phone, Sony Ericsson’s W380i is a stylish flip handset featuring touch-sensitive music controls. It also boasts a gesture motion feature that allows you to silence incoming calls and set the alarm to 'snooze'.

Aesthetically, the W380i is certainly stylish; the 'magnetic grey' finish complements the design of the handset quite nicely. We were impressed with build quality; it feels like it could cope with a few knocks, and the flip mechanism is sturdy.

A highlight of the W380i is the camouflaged external display and touch-sensitive music controls. When not active, the display is invisible and blends into the rest of the handset. When activated, it lights up to display reception and battery indicators, the time and incoming caller ID information. The display works reasonably well; however, one complaint is that due to the finish of the plastic, text isn’t crisp and clear and it looks hazy.

When gesture control is activated, simply moving your hand across the camera without touching it mutes a call, or puts the alarm in snooze mode. The latter is particularly handy for those who use their mobile phone as an alarm clock to wake them up in the morning.

The touch-sensitive music controls, which sit just below the external display, are reasonably responsive. Like the display, they are backlit when activated, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal of this handset. To guard against accidental button presses, Sony Ericsson has included a small sliding key lock — an excellent feature when using the music player and controlling your tunes with the external controls.

Flipped open, the W380i reveals a well laid out keypad and reasonably good controls. The keys are quite flat but messaging is a breeze thanks to reasonable tactility and excellent spacing between each key. A five-way navigational pad does the rest of the work, supported by two selection buttons and dedicated keys for back, clear, Internet, power and shortcuts. Some of these keys are a little small though, so you’ll have to dig your finger into them, which quickly becomes uncomfortable.

Like most phones in the Walkman series, the W380i is a fair music player. The Walkman software is intuitive to use, and audio quality is reasonable. The included earphones produce reasonably good sound and an adapter allows standard 3.5mm headphones to be used if you wish. You can tailor your audio using the five-band equaliser or four presets, including Sony's proprietary Mega Bass. The W380i also features A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) which enables you to wirelessly stream your music to a compatible pair of Bluetooth headphones. A Memory Stick Micro (M2) slot located behind the battery cover allows you to add up to 2GB of extra storage to store your music.

Unfortunately, the W380i isn’t a 3G phone, so users looking for fast mobile Internet are advised to look elsewhere. A 1.3-megapixel camera is barely enough for a few happy snaps, while the standard array of PIM features — alarms, calendar, tasks, notes, time, stopwatch and calculator — are all included. TrackID is also present, enabling you to record a few seconds of any song and be sent title, album and artist information.

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