The Sony Ericsson W890i is one of the latest additions to the Walkman phone family. As the successor to the Sony Ericsson W880i, will it be just another thin phone with titchy keys or is this possibly one of the best Walkman phones yet?
It's available from several major networks for free on a monthly contract.
Although similar to the W880i, the W890i has a much better design. It's thicker in size than its predecessor but still markedly thinner than most other phones. Because of its metal casing, it's also a tougher handset, but it's the overall quality feel of it that had us excited. Unlike many thin phones, the W890i is solid. You don't feel like you have to protect it with your life and it can definitely take a few tumbles.
Sony Ericsson also has put much more thought into the user experience with the W890i, adding a larger screen that makes viewing pictures and Web pages on the phone much more enjoyable. The navigation keys follow a much better specification -- they're easier to press and the keys on the keypad are larger and have a better layout. One of the reasons we didn't give the W880i higher marks was due to its tiny rice-grain-like keys, but we're happy to report that the W890i instead features larger, albeit still small keys that are easy to press unless you have massive thumbs.
Our only issue with the W890i's design is the proprietary headphone jack that's on the left side of the phone, which aside from making the W890i awkward to pull out of your pocket when headphones are plugged in, it also means you can't plug standard 3.5mm headphones straight into the handset without an adaptor.
We were impressed by the W880i's features, so we were keen to see what Sony Ericsson could cram into the W890i. As a Walkman phone, its music features are very similar to the W880i's but with a few added extras. Uploading music is easy using the provided Media Manager software that lets you drag and drop music straight on to the phone using a simple software interface. Using Media Manager, you can categorise individual tracks by mood in the same way as you can on the Sony Ericsson W960i.
Once uploaded, you can create playlists, adjust the equaliser and control your music using the four-way navigation key that doubles up as individual play, pause, forward and rewind music keys. The pre-installed Walkman Player 3.0 app is intuitive and neither under-featured nor packed with too many frills.
As we mentioned, you can listen to music using the provided headphones or by plugging your own pair in via the 3.5mm adaptor. If you're too cool for wires, you can use a pair of Bluetooth stereo headphones, but keep in mind using Bluetooth drains more battery power.
One of our pet peeves about the W880i was that its 2-megapixel camera wasn't fantastic. We're glad to see a better, 3.2-megapixel snapper on the W890i. Sadly, this upgraded camera still doesn't have a flash or LED photo light, so shots in low light don't come out well.
Still, what does work and is one of the most compelling reasons to buy the W890i is HSDPA (3.5G). Unlike the W880i that only had 3G, the W890i can surf the Web at a much faster speed than on EDGE or 3G-only phones.
Having downloaded an array of apps, including Google Maps for mobiles and Opera Mini 4, we were doing our Internet thing in no time at all. Our only word of advice is to keep an eye out on what data charges you're on. We recommend that if you love the Internet then go for a flat-rate data tariff.
Audio during calls is loud and clear without any noticeable distortions or muffling during calls. You're not going to get great sound quality from the loudspeaker when using it to listen to music, but it's alright. We're pleased to report that audio quality from the MP3 player using the provided headphones is good enough to replace your standalone music device, which is arguably the main selling point of a Sony Ericsson Walkman phone.
Its camera, however, isn't substantial enough to replace your dedicated snapper. Without a flash or LED photo light, your best bet would be to stick to daylight pictures. There's not an autofocus option either so close-up shots aren't clear.
The battery life is good, lasting for over two days with moderate to high use before needing recharge. Obviously, you'll use up more battery power if you use HSDPA and have a pair of stereo Bluetooth headphones connected to it on a regular basis.
The Sony Ericsson W890i will go down in the mobile phone history books as one of Sony Ericsson's best handsets ever. The combination of solid features with a solid, slim casing works a real treat.
Certainly, the W890i has its flaws -- the camera isn't perfect and could certainly do with a flash, and it would be good if the phone had Wi-Fi. For what it is, though, the handset performs really well. If you're after a more business-centric phone then there's the similarly featured Nokia E51. As Walkman phones go, we dare say this is the best one yet.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday