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Sony Ericsson Z550i, Z710i, W710i and W850i: Fantastic 4

Sony Ericsson has got jumping out of our seats again with the launch of three new handsets that look rather tasty: a Walkman slider, a Walkman phone for the sporty type, and a nicely featured clamshell phone

After the launch of the Sony Ericsson W300i, W810i, W700i and K750i, we expected Sony Ericsson to launch more phones later this year. We thought we'd have to wait until the summer to get a glimpse of what these new phones would look like, but we were wrong -- seriously wrong. Today in London, Sony Ericsson launched the W850i, W710i, Z550i and the Z710i (pictured in sequence clockwise from top left).

These new handsets feature classic Sony Ericsson designs but also have a few extras that have us salivating like tech-hungry St Bernards. The W850i Walkman phone is -- unusually for Sony Ericsson -- a slider phone. It features 3G support and video calling, a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0, a 262k colour screen, Track ID that lets you record music and identify it, in a similar way to the Shazam service, and Walkman player version 2.0, which now lets you download music straight on to your phone via a 3G connection. The W850i comes with a 1GB Memory Stick Duo and can support up to 4GB, which is equivalent to around 1,000 songs. It will play MP3, AAC, AAC+ eAAC+ and M4a formats.

The Z710i is a quad-band clamshell phone that looks almost identical to the W710i, another recently launched Walkman phone. The Z710i features a 128x128-pixel four-greyscale STN display and dedicated music buttons. These let you view track information or radio stations and control the MP3 player and built-in FM radio while the phone is shut. It supports EDGE, push email and RSS feeds, has Bluetooth and infrared connectivity and a 2-megapixel camera. The Z510 also has an expandable Memory Stick Micro slot, so you won't be stuck for storage space.

While the W710i looks like the Z710i, it's aimed at those who (unlike us) take exercise and features sports applications and a built-in motion sensor that will measure your speed and distance. The W710i will even help you count those pesky calories. It also comes with an arm band so that you can strap it to a limb and look like a serious jogger while keeping your phone in a safe place.

The Z550i is a more fashionable-looking tri-band clamshell phone and features a brushed aluminium surface. It isn't as fully loaded as the other phones, but it does come with a 1.3-megapixel camera, an FM radio, push-email support, Bluetooth and a Memory Stick Micro slot. Sony Ericsson says that the phones will be commercially available at the end of the year. Expect a full review of all four phones soon. -AL