The Good The Sony Ericsson W300i offers good call quality, a top-notch MP3 player, and a generous set of features.
The Bad The Sony Ericsson W300i suffers from poorly designed controls and keypad buttons and low-grade picture quality, and it had a tendency to freeze on occasion in our tests.
The Bottom Line Though it has a few design and performance glitches, the Sony Ericsson W300i is a quality, basic MP3 cell phone.
Sony Ericsson W300i (AT&T)
Since Sony Ericsson first introduced its Walkman cell phone line last year, music-friendly phones have had mixed success in the United States. Though they're lauded by users and critics alike, including us, U.S. carriers, haven't clamored to include the handsets in their lineups. Sure, Cingular offers the W600i, but that's the exception rather than the rule. Sony Ericsson no doubt has taken notice of this discrepancy, which may be a reason behind the Sony Ericsson W300i. While previous Walkman phones were packed with the most expensive features, the W300i aims to be a low-end Walkman phone. Though you still get Bluetooth, a VGA camera, and the full range of Walkman music compatibility, the overall effect is a step down from models like the Sony Ericsson W810i. We weren't crazy about some design elements, but call quality was good, and we applaud Sony Ericsson for bringing mobile music to the masses. No carrier was set at the time of this review, so the GSM handset will run you $299.
So far, Sony Ericsson has stuck to swivel and candy bar designs for its Walkman phones, so we were glad to see the company roll out a flip phone in the series. From the outside it's quite attractive; our version came in black, but you can get it in white as well. It doesn't bear much of a resemblance to the company's few other flip phones; we like the clean lines, the looped antenna, and the textured covering on the bottom of the front flap. The phone is relatively compact at 3.5 by 1.8 by 1.0 inches, so it's easily placed in most pockets. It's also quite light for its size at 3.3 ounces, but the trade-off is that the overall construction feels somewhat flimsy. We didn't have any problems when using the phone, but it felt almost too light in our hands.
In the center of the front flap is the postage stamp-size external display. Though monochrome, it's quite bright and displays the usual information, including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available). You can't change the backlighting time, but a quick flick of the volume rocker will activate the display for inspection. Above the screen is the VGA camera lens and a self-portrait mirror (but no flash), while the speaker is on the top of the rear face. The aforementioned volume control is on the left spine along with a control for activating the music player and playing and pausing music. The infrared port is on the right spine, while the connection port for the charger, the wired headset, and the USB cable is on the bottom of the handset. One design flaw of the new Walkman phone connection port is that you can't connect two cables at once.
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