Photos: Hands-on with the Sony Ericsson W980 Walkman

We've got our hands on the new Walkman phone from Sony Ericsson -- the W980. It's a dual-screened clamshell with a built-in FM transmitter and 8GB of on-board memory

Until the rocking W902 comes out later this year, we're happy to know Sony Ericsson's W760i is on the market. It's our favourite Walkman phone along with the W890i . But if you fancy a dual-screened clamshell phone, you should take a look at the brand spanking new W980, sometimes erroneously called the W980i.

This is an interesting quad-band handset for more interesting reasons than vowel confusion. Firstly, it's got 8GB of on-board memory, but no expansion slot for microSD or Memory Stick Micro cards. Secondly, underneath the colour 40mm secondary LCD screen are dedicated touch-sensitive Walkman control buttons for browsing music without having to access the phone's main menu.

Thirdly, it's got an integrated FM transmitter for firing tunes wirelessly to a car stereo, for example. We rarely see this, even in MP3 players, and for a phone to have it is even more unusual.

It's a pretty stylish phone as well. We're not fond of the positioning of the 3.2-megapixel camera on the back, as the buttons you need to press to take photos are so high up that it's way too easy to accidentally put your hand over the lens -- it takes a conscious effort to keep your fingers out of the camera's way while taking a shot. And there's no flash.

There's also no 3.5mm headphone socket -- you need to use a bloody annoying proprietary adaptor. Epic fail. While many people don't give a shiznit about using bundled adaptors, it's still a demented design when you're trying to compete with dedicated MP3 players and the iPhone.

So far it's been a reasonably pleasant experience using the W980, although the circular keys on the keypad are too widely spaced, which makes texting at speed tricky. But it's got a great screen, terrific menus, stereo Bluetooth, HSDPA 3.6Mbps data access and it's generally easy to use.

It's compatible with MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA and protected WMA from the likes of Napster and 7digital. You can either drag and drop these files through Windows or sync them up with Windows Media Player.

You can expect heaps of details about sound quality and how it performs as a music device in our full, epic and concise review, due in the next week or so. Until then, click through for a gallery of hands-on photos.

The W980 will be out soon on Orange, O2 and Vodafone on a range of price plans. -Nate Lanxon

Update: Read our full Sony Ericsson W980 Walkman review here.

Here are the touch-sensitive controls on the front of the phone. They work pretty well and allow for basic music management. There's a physical lock switch located on the side of the handset to make sure you don't accidentally skip tracks.

Just look at that ugly proprietary headphone socket. There's a plastic adaptor bundled in the box if, God forbid, you want to use your own decent earphones.

The keypad is decent enough, but it takes some getting used to, thanks to the keys being quite far apart.

More conventional navigational buttons sit above the keys, but they're not ideal for fatties with massive fingers.

As we so often see on Sony Ericsson handsets, the W980's screen is excellent.

This translucent plastic trimming is the only really questionable aspect of the phone's design -- why would you put this thing on such a purdy handset?

Here's the 3-megapixel camera. As mentioned, there's no flash, so night-time shots are pretty much out of the question.

We hinted at an issue with the camera's location in the main article on page one, but it's hard to photograph it.

Compare the above photograph with the one on the next page. You should be able to see that the buttons seen here -- required for taking photos -- are exactly opposite the camera. Fingers naturally cover the lens when holding the phone up, causing mild annoyance.

Can you see what we're talking about?

The hinge on the W980 is solid. There shouldn't be any snapping issues, unless you're fond of bending phones in half with both hands.

Finally, here's the W980 next to the just-announced Sony Ericsson W902 -- yeah, we've got one, wanna fight about it? Two cracking Walkman handsets for 2008. Reviews will follow very soon.

 

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