As the W205 Walkman can be picked up for as little as £40 on a Vodafone pay-as-you-go deal, or £80 SIM-free, it's probably the cheapest phone in Sony Ericsson's current line-up of Walkman handsets. As you'd expect at this price, it lacks many of the bells and whistles of the high-end Walkman phones, but it still offers a decent range of features for the money.
Most budget handsets have a candybar design, but, despite this phone's low price, Sony Ericsson has decided to take the more adventurous slider approach. The sliding mechanism doesn't feel as smooth or as satisfying as those on the company's more expensive handsets, but it certainly doesn't feel flimsy either, and it adds a certain degree of panache. The matte black, plasticky front ensures the W205 still has a rather budget feel to it, though.
The tiny screen doesn't help matters either. At 41mm (1.6 inches), it's smaller than the available space would have allowed, so you're left with a thick, black border around the edge. The 128x160-pixel resolution is very low, making the phone's browser practically useless. Also, the viewing angle is poor. Consequently, the screen can be difficult to read at times.
The keypad is also very cramped. While it's fine for tapping in numbers, you can only comfortably text on it using a single thumb, rather than the two-thumb approach that most people seem to adopt when texting. The stickiness of the keys doesn't help either, so the W205 is definitely not a great option for those who send plenty of text messages.
The W205 isn't all bad, though. The phone uses the standard Sony Ericsson menu system, so it's easy to find your way around and, as a result, very straightforward to use. Call quality is also top-class, thanks to the loud earpiece. Even the speaker-phone function works well, since the W205 uses an external speaker rather than simply cranking up the earpiece volume, as some other budget handsets do.
Connectivity is more than adequate, at least by budget-phone standards. Although the W205 doesn't have 3G, which is hardly surprising at this price, it offers support for GPRS and Edge, and there's also Bluetooth for use with wireless headsets or for transferring files like pictures and music snippets to other phones. Battery life isn't bad either -- you'll get around 9 hours of talk time from this phone.
The camera has a low resolution of just 1.3 megapixels, limiting you to shots of a maximum size of 1,280x1,024 pixels. Despite the camera lacking advanced features like autofocus or an LED flash, pictures taken in good light come out pretty well, so it's fine for taking the odd snap here and there when you don't have a dedicated camera to hand.
It's this phone's music features that will attract most people's attention. Unfortunately, the W205 only has a meagre 5MB of free memory out of the box, so you'll need to buy a Memory Stick Micro M2 card to actually get music onto it. To make matters worse, only cards of up to 2GB are officially supported.
Still, once you've got music onto the phone, you'll find that the supplied stereo headset produces pretty decent sound quality, which is important, because there's no graphic equaliser or bass-boost controls. The rest of the music-player applet is pretty good -- the interface is well-presented, and very quick and straightforward to use. The handset also has an on-board FM tuner complete with RDS, and you can actually record directly from the tuner to the phone's memory, so you can grab tracks from the radio.
The Sony Ericsson W205 Walkman has quite obviously been built to a tight budget and, as such, it's not the type of phone you're going to flash around down the boozer. Nevertheless, it offers a decent range of features for the price. Sony Ericsson should have kitted it out with a better screen and keypad, though.
Edited by Charles Kloet