Sony Ericsson W610i review: Sony Ericsson W610i

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The Good Good sound quality. Easy to use Walkman. FM radio. Stylish design.

The Bad Tiny buttons are difficult to use. Earbuds won't fit all ears.

The Bottom Line Although it's not a 3G handset, the W610i is an excellent music phone we'd have no hesitation in recommending.

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8.1 Overall

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The W610i is another candy-bar-style mobile phone in the Walkman series from Sony Ericsson. The W610i is available in two colour schemes: fancy Plush Orange (black and orange) and the more traditional Satin Black (black and white). Our review sample was the plush orange model and we immediately fell in love with the stylish design. It has a black front with the small shaped silver buttons, an orange back and rounded edges -- a true eye catcher.

The W610i measures 102mm by 46mm by 14mm and weighs 85 grams, almost identical dimensions to its predecessor, the W660i. The display is a 176 x 220-pixel TFT screen with 262K colours, and can easily be read in sunlight.

Sony Ericsson has gotten rid of the joystick for navigating through the main functions. Instead, the W610i employs a stylish silver navigation key. To its left and right are two similarly designed semi-circles for shortcuts. Four buttons above the numerical keypad allow you to program your own shortcuts for common functions such as contacts, alarm clock, inbox and calendar. The left circle activates the Walkman music player and the right circle brings you to the Activity Menu, which gives you direct access to missed calls, new messages, appointments, running applications and the Web browser. Down the side of the phone are shortcuts for playlists and to activate the camera.

Unfortunately the biggest drawback of the W610i is its numerical keys, which are very tiny dash-like silver buttons. Granted, they look good, but that's about it. The buttons are too close to each other and make typing text messages quickly quite difficult -- at least if you have adult-sized thumbs. Somehow you get used to using the keypad with the side of your thumbs, but we still had to use the delete button often.

The feature list is similar to other Walkman phones, although the W610i comes with an updated music player that has a more user-friendly interface. The phone also supports two Sony Ericsson services called Play Now and TrackID. You have to pay if you want to download ringtones via PlayNow, but the service TrackID is free (aside from data transfer costs). TrackID is a really cool feature which allows you to record a 10-second sample of whatever music is playing through the microphone and sends it to the CD database Gracenote for identification.

Additionally in the software bundle is the CD-ripping software Disc2Phone to easily transfer your favourite songs from a music CD to the phone.

One advantage of the W610i is the built-in FM radio, although it only works with the provided headset, which works as an antenna.

Another thing we really liked about the W610i is that you can use the music player in the background, while writing text messages, playing with the various functions, using the camera or reading RSS feeds.

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