The W200i is Sony Ericsson's cheap Walkman phone aimed at those who are on pay as you go and so don't get the luxury of free upgrades. It costs around £50 SIM-free, and while its design and features largely reflect its bargain price tag, Sony Ericsson has still managed to pack in a few surprises.
You wouldn't exactly describe this handset as a looker, but the styling isn't too bad for a budget phone. You can rattle off text messages at a fine speed -- the buttons on the keypad are a decent size and there's a dedicated Walkman button to bring you straight to the music player. On the right-hand side there's a volume rocker switch, which doubles as a track skip control when you hold it down for a second or so.
In fact, the music features are one of the most impressive aspects of the handset. The Walkman application is fast and easy to use and the sound quality is first rate. The supplied headphones are surprisingly good, but if you're not satisfied with them you can swap them out for your own, thanks to the standard 3.5mm jack on the hands-free kit. However, you'll probably want to upgrade the 128MB M2 Memory Stick to something a bit larger if you want to store a decent number of tracks.
In terms of call quality, the phone's performance was excellent and battery life was also impressive -- we got around four days' use out of it before it needed a charge. There are also a few neat extras hidden away in the menus, such as the handy RSS reader that lets you keep up to date with the latest news from your favourite Web sites.
The screen is certainly nothing to write home about -- its viewing angle is poor, so if you look at it from any angle other than straight on the colours look murky and washed out, not that they're great to begin with. And while the menu system is easy to understand, the mini joystick is a fraction too recessed, making it sometimes fiddly to get to the icon you're after.
If you want a phone that takes decent snaps then this isn't the model for you. The camera has a lowly VGA resolution so when you view photos full screen on a laptop they're so blocky you'll think your mates are made of Lego. There's no flash either, so taking pictures down the local dingy boozer is out.
Sony Ericsson has made a bizarre choice when it comes to wireless support: there's no Bluetooth, but you do get IrDA (infrared). Infrared ports are fast disappearing from the latest laptops and phones, so its usefulness is somewhat questionable.
The W200i is definitely more functional than flash. The design is a tad dull and the joystick is fiddly, but it has excellent music features and is very easy to use.
Overall, we reckon it's a decent bet for those looking for a cheap pay-as-you -go music phone, however if you can afford to spend around £70 more, the Sony Ericsson W810i comes with a reasonable 2-megapixel camera.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield