Sony Ericsson W395 Walkman review: Sony Ericsson W395 Walkman
The budget W395 Walkman music phone may not offer a fantastic screen or camera, but it punches above its weight in pretty much every other department. Its music player is excellent, the on-board speakers are great and it offers a decent feature set. At its current pay-as-you-go price, it's a steal
Designed to appeal to pay-as-you-go fans, the Sony Ericsson W395 Walkman is a music phone that packs in plenty of features, including stereo speakers, an FM tuner and a 2-megapixel camera, while still managing to be one of the cheaper handsets in the current Walkman range. You can pick it up for as little as £48 on a pay-as-you-go deal with O2. You can also get it for free on a £20-per-month contract with O2, or for about £110 SIM-free.
Cheap and cheerful
The W395 may have a low price tag, but it feels extremely sturdy, and is free from the plasticky feel that often mars cheaper phones. Its design is appealing too. The smooth slider mechanism looks the business and the phone's rounded edges give it a sleek and stylish look. Our review sample was decked out in a grey colour scheme, but there's a range of other finishes available, including silver, black and pink.
The phone's 51mm (2-inch) screen has a relatively low resolution of 220x176 pixels, but it looks quite sharp, and it's very bright. It's certainly one of the better displays we've seen on a budget mobile, and it works well for reading text messages or emails. The keypad is on the small side, so those with larger fingers may struggle to reach a decent speed when texting, but at least the membrane-style keys are quite responsive.
Face the music
As with all of the handsets in the Walkman range, the W395 has a dedicated button on the front for launching the music-player applet. The Walkman music player is actually pretty good, making it relatively easy to browse through your library of tunes, with tracks organised by the usual artist, album and track-name categories.
The handset only has 10MB of on-board memory, so you have to store music on Memory Stick Micro M2 cards. There's a 1GB card supplied in the box to get you started, and the handset can accept cards of up to 4GB in size. The music player includes a five-band equaliser, letting you tweak the audio output to your taste, and there's also a stereo-widening setting that helps expand the stereo image. When you're bored of your own tunes, you can always turn to the handy FM tuner, which has RDS support, so it automatically displays station names.
The supplied headphones are much better than those that come with cheaper handsets like the W205 Walkman. They have much deeper bass response and, as a result, sound more balanced and pleasing to the ear. But the headphones attach to the phone's proprietary Sony Ericsson charging connector and there's no standard headphone jack. If you want to use your own cans, you'll have to invest in a headphone adaptor cable.
The handset's stereo speakers are one of its key features. These are mounted at the top and bottom of the rear side of the phone to give some stereo separation. As you'd expect, they sound quite tinny, but, on the plus side, they're quite loud, so you can use them to kick up quite a racket. In fact, they're up there with the best built-in speakers we've heard on a mobile.
On the downside, the phone's camera is quite poor. It has only a 2-megapixel resolution and, when you transfer shots to a computer, they tend to show plenty of artefacts, like digital noise and blue fringing on sharp edges.
Nevertheless, the W395 offers excellent call quality, with both the earpiece and microphone doing a top-class job. Battery life is also impressive. We got around 2.5 days of use out of the handset before it needed recharging. No doubt this longevity is helped by the fact that the handset doesn't support battery-sapping 3G, although this does mean you're limited to slower GPRS or Edge speeds for picking up emails or viewing Web pages in the phone's browser.
The Sony Ericsson W395 Walkman boasts an excellent music player, great on-board speakers and a decent line-up of features. Its budget nature may be evident in its low-resolution screen and basic camera, but, in pretty much every other department, it manages to punch above its weight. It's an absolute steal at its current pay-as-you-go asking price.
Edited by Charles Kloet