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Sony Ericsson W380i review: Sony Ericsson W380i

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The Good Affordable. Sound quality. Stereo Bluetooth. Sturdy build.

The Bad 1.3-megapixel camera. Gesture control is a gimmick. Slow interface. Speaker is disappointing.

The Bottom Line Sony Ericsson's W380i is pretty much an MP3 player wrapped around a mobile phone — and a pretty darned good MP3 player at that.

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7.2 Overall

Review Sections

Design
The W380i is the latest in Sony Ericsson's line-up of Walkman phones. Featuring a clamshell form factor, the W380i is an understated, entry-level mobile phone available in magnetic grey or electric purple.

While the flip phone's outer shell appears nondescript, on closer inspection hidden underneath the grey cover is an OLED screen that is visible when closing the clamshell or when selecting music in MP3 player mode. The information displayed is quite similar to Sony Ericsson's Z750i where information displayed includes battery life, missed call/message, time and reception levels.

Side on, the W380i is a parallelogram with just one proprietary port for hooking up the included stereo hands-free headphones, AC adapter and USB cable; on the opposite side is the volume button.

Opened up, the clamshell phone sports a nice clean design with soft keys shaped like little silver discs and a bright aqua jewel-like button at the centre of the five-way navigation disc. The tactile keys on the number pad are attractively rounded bubble-like keys that are easy to press and provide good tactile feedback.

Turning the phone over, there is a small sliding lock ... you'll have to read on to find out what this mystery button does.

Features
There are quite a few features on the W380i, like a 1.3-megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom, Bluetooth stereo, RSS reader and the usual assortment of apps such as calculator, alarm clock, etc.

What interested us the most was the Gesture control, which sets this phone apart from other models in Sony Ericsson's Walkman line-up. What's Gesture control, you ask? Quite simply it's a way to control your phone by waving your hand in front of the embedded camera lens.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do with gesture control. You can mute incoming calls or put your alarm on snooze — that's about it. (We also found that it took quite a few waves of the hand before it mutes or snoozes. In that amount of time, we could've pressed a button — and not look like a fool). A few onlookers mistakenly thought we were trying to answer the phone by waving hello. And if you think jiggling it around in your pocket will do the job, it doesn't.

Also, if you were to use it to turn off your alarm, you'd probably knock over everything on your bedside table before the alarm turns off. It's a gimmick you probably won't use after the first few days of purchasing the phone.

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