Sony Ericsson is undoubtedly a frontrunner in terms of mobile technology. With phones like the W800i Walkman phone and the K750i camera phone storming the mobile charts over the past year, and the upcoming W950i and K790i set to do the same later this year, it's been interesting to see what Sony Ericsson has been doing in the meantime.
It appears that Sony Ericsson really liked the W800i Walkman phone, so much so that it decided to upgrade it in black, add some new keys and call it the W810i. Then, in an unexpected move, they launched the W700i, which is literally the W800i in gold. Is the W810i really an upgrade though, or is it another transformer-like W700i that looks like a new phone but is actually a W800i in disguise?Design
There's no hiding the fact that the W810i is an upgrade of the W800i, especially since they share practically the same dimensions and weight. The W810i is black, though, which is a huge improvement if white and orange isn't your thing. The entire handset including keys is black except for the dedicated Walkman key, a Walkman symbol on the bottom and back, and an orange portrait mirror. The other immediately noticeable design features are the new keypad, navigation button and soft keys.
The new keypad has oblong-shaped buttons that are more spaced out than on the W800i. In between the keypad and the screen, a new navigation button has replaced the sometimes troublesome joystick and is made up of a silver circular four-way button with a separate OK button located in the middle.
Either side of the navigation key are two soft keys. On the left soft key is a dedicated metallic orange Walkman key that takes you straight to the Walkman application, and next to that is a soft key that consists of two parts within one button. The top half lets you access calls and the bottom half is a return to previous page key. On the right side of the phone is an identical grouping of buttons that features a dedicated shortcut menu key that lets you access several shortcuts to applications, and next to that is another two-in-one soft key. The top half lets you access the menu and the bottom half is a cancel key.
Above these new keys is a familiar screen -- exactly the same as the one found on the W800i -- which features 262k colours and a 176x220-pixel resolution. The sides of the phone are also similar as they are again exactly the same as on the W800i. There's a Memory Stick Duo slot on the bottom left side and a play and pause button on the top left side. On the top is an infrared port and the on and off button. On the top right side there's a volume up and down button, which also doubles as a zoom in and out button and on the bottom right is the dedicated shutter button. The bottom houses the charging port and also doubles up as the dedicated headphones port.
Fortunately, the similarities between the W810i and the W800i end there and the back of the phone has been modified in several ways. The most important change is the removal of the lens cover on the back, that was renowned on the W800i for opening in your pocket and activating the camera application when you didn't want it, or completely breaking and confusing the automatic camera application, making the phone difficult to use. The other design change to the back of the phone is the new speaker grill, which is larger than the old one and features three holes. Next to this is a new circular orange portrait mirror. The camera and flash are in the same position as on the W800i but don't feature the same metallic looking borders.
The W810i also comes with a 3.5mm headphone adaptor which proves very useful as it lets you use your own headphones instead of proprietary ones. We also hope that at some point they include a 3.5mm port directly in the phone so we don't have to carry to many wires around. This would make those times when you just want to use the handset as an MP3 player, for example on the tube, a lot easier.Features
The W810i hasn't had many feature upgrades -- it does feature quad band connectivity but otherwise has an almost identical feature set to the W800i. There are some discreet differences, like the added functionality in the file manager that lets you access the memory card and internal memory independently, and the disappearance of the world clock application, which has been replaced by a news reader.
There are also some new themes that are very pleasing to look at and we especially like the orbit theme. The themes not only change the W810i's wallpaper but also change the icons, screensaver and, in the case of certain themes, will even create a vibrating effect as you scroll from icon to icon in the menu. Aside from that, the interface is identical to the W800i's -- if you interested in seeing what that is like, check out the W800i review.Performance
The audio quality on calls was good and the MP3 player sounded good and was loud enough to hear on the tube. Playing music on the speaker wasn't great but it's good enough to annoy commuters or play music at a picnic.
The battery life was good, too, and lasted for around a week and a half on standby. Talktime lasted for around 7 hours but only around 3 to 4 hours when using the MP3 player moderately.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield