Sony Ericsson W705
It’s been about a year since I last used a Sony Ericsson mobile phone. I was using the K800i before replacing it with the Nokia 6220 Classic last year when I switched providers. Well it’s time to touch base with Sony Ericsson and see what they have to offer in 2009 with the W705, one of the Walkman-based slider phones.
At first glance at the spec sheet, the W705 is squarely aimed at the mid-range market with a few extras that you wouldn’t expect. Included with the phone is a massive 4GB of Memory Stick M2 memory, 3G compatibility, accelerometer and Wi-Fi. These are features that you rarely find on a mid-range phone, so the fact that the W705 manages to cram all that in a svelte package is definitely a bonus.
Talking of packaging, Sony Ericsson try to make it clear that this is a Walkman branded phone with the famous emblem and Walkman insignia in the usual places. The front of the device packs a 2.5-inch 320 x 240 display on the front, which is finished in a brushed metal effect. The W705 has a solid quality finish with a blend of metal, plastic and a rubbery textured back for grip. The trim has a mixture of gold detailing and chrome buttons.
The W705 is a slider phone and features a snap-in sliding mechanism that either snaps open or snap closes depending on where it’s at. This makes it easy to slide open and close shut in the palm of your hand using your thumb.
Number keys have a spacious layout that comfortably accommodates two-finger text typing. The keys themselves are designed into the phone rather than separate physical keys. Each key is distinctly raised to make it easy for your fingers to find the keys. My week of using the W705 proved it to be a perfectly adequate for frequent text messaging.
Since this is a Walkman phone, you’ll find plenty of shortcut keys and software menus for accessing the Walkman media interface. This is almost like a separate application in itself. Loading the Walkman software is very quick and you’re immediately greeted with a simple menu for accessing your photos, music, videos and more. The W705 has a dedicated shortcut key at the top of the phone for instant launch and you’ll also find the left shortcut key is programmed by default to launch the Walkman media interface.
Once you’re playing your video or music, the central circular control button provides playback functionality. This section is neatly lit up in orange when they’re activated. A dedicated speaker on the back of the phone provides better-than-usual playback of your music but it’s far from being a replacement to listening via your headphones or external speakers. Included in the box are a set of Sony Ericsson headphones which attach to the phone through another cable which plugs into the side of the phone via its data/charging port. It’s a shame a 3.5mm jack isn’t available directly on the phone since we all have our own taste for headphones – and using the extension jack means you end up with too much cable.
The rest of the W705 interface is similar to other Sony Ericsson’s of the past and present. That’s not a bad thing, because I was able to pick up this handset and find my way around with minimal learning curve. The enhancements since I last used the K800i definitely is a plus point for the W705, with the most effective being the conversations feature for text messaging. I won’t be coy about where this idea most likely came from, but it’s certainly not disliked on the W705. If you’re not familiar with text messaging on an iPhone, you can see your replies as well as the original messaging in a thread that looks like an IM window. This is great for looking back on previous messages that either you or the recipient sent without having to exit the message you’re writing.
An accelerometer has been included in the W705 and is used for the media-centric features of the phone. This includes auto rotating pictures, music playback information and videos.
Music transfer to the phone can be done through the music management software included on a CD in the box – since that was Windows only, I decided to do it the manual method by attaching the USB cord directly to my Mac. This put the phone into USB mass storage mode and allowed for simple drag and drop transfer of my audio, video and photos directly onto the 4GB memory card.
Photo snaps come courtesy of the 3.2 megapixel camera with VGA video recording. Unfortunately there’s no Xenon flash, but there is a white-LED light that you can switch on whilst taking your snaps. It doesn’t provide the same effect as a flash but it’s better than nothing. The LED light is brighter than I was expecting it to be. So bright that it’s also used for the torch application. Quality of the snaps aren’t quite what I remembered from the K800i, but then this isn’t a Cyber-shot branded phone so expect nothing more than just your average snaps.
Wi-Fi internet connectivity was what piqued my interest with the W705 – I don’t expect to see this on anything other than the high-end models so I was curious to find out how well it worked. Yet another surprise from the W705. It works seamlessly with 802.11 b and g Wi-Fi networks. With a 2.5-inch screen, you can’t expect all that great a web browsing experience – but it can prove to be useful if you do ever need access to decent data speeds either at home or out and about. You can also use the Walkman interface to stream BBC iPlayer, although I wasn’t able to actually get this to work. A few other data-enabled apps like Google Apps and Google Search come pre-loaded and built-in to the software interface for quick access. Google Maps works as expected providing you got a decent signal, as it’s bandwidth-heavy.
I would have to rate the battery performance at average as it lasts 2-3 days with Wi-Fi off. When Wi-Fi was left on, I was only able get a couple of days out of it at the most.
You’ll find the W705 for as little as free on contracts from less than £20 per month – so ownership can be quite cheap. What makes the W705 an attractive buy is it’s rich feature set and solid build quality. Naturally, it doesn’t rival the higher-end Smartphones, but it’s certainly not far from belonging to that crowd.
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