Sony Ericsson's Walkman music-phone range expands into the world of 3G with the W900i -- and it's not the only way it's stretched. On-board memory gets a considerable boost compared to the last Walkman phone we looked at, the W550i, and this handset is chunkier too.
At time of writing, the W900i is available exclusively from Vodafone, and only in white, with other operators to follow. You can get it for free on some price plans if you buy online, and can pay up to £160 with a £16 a month Anytime 75 contract. We also found the W900i SIM-free online for around £450.
If you were hoping that whiteness was on its way out for phones, music players and other gadgets, you're going to be disappointed. Sony Ericsson certainly thinks white handsets have some mileage left in them, having introduced the W900i into the UK in only that colour.
The handset is constructed in two pieces, which swivel around a hinge underneath the navigation button that sits below the screen. This keeps the number pad out of sight until you need it. Thankfully, you don't need it very often, because the front and sides of the casing have enough buttons to cater for most activities. When you do need to open the handset up, it becomes a lanky 165mm tall.
It's good that the power button is hidden on the number-pad section. It's an irritation when you want to turn the W900i on and off, but it does safeguard against accidentally doing so. A lock button on the left edge of the case is also useful in this respect. This edge also houses a button that takes you straight to the music software, with the navigation button on the front of the casing providing for track control and a rocker on the right edge catering for volume.
The slot for Memory Stick Duo and PRO Duo cards that boost the built-in memory is also on the left. It's protected by a tight-fitting rubber cover that makes it awkward to access.
As well as a volume rocker, the right edge of the casing houses an infrared port and the camera-activation button. This turns the screen into a viewfinder, while the volume rocker becomes a zoom rocker. Press it again to taken your snap -- half way down to invoke the built-in autofocus.
In camera mode, the navigation button takes on new roles, switching between stills and video recording and adjusting brightness, while other front buttons also change their functions.
The camera lens sits on the back of the casing alongside a flash unit. As we've seen before with Sony Ericsson's phones, the back of the casing looks more like a digital camera than a phone, and the ergonomics encourage you to use the W900i on its side, framing pictures in landscape format.
The screen itself is a delight. It's fairly large, and its 262k colours are sharp and bright. It does look lost in the large casing, though.
The key features of the W900i are its camera, its music ability and its 3G capability. There's a button on the front dedicated to initiating video calls with 3G, and a VGA lens sitting above the screen. It's extremely straightforward.
With music storage in mind, Sony Ericsson provides 470MB of internal memory -- more than on any of the previous Walkman handsets. This comes close to the 512MB standard for small, flash-based music players. But you'll need to invest in Memory Stick Duo or PRO Duo cards to store significantly more than 100 songs.