Flash memory is getting cheaper and more capacious by the month and gadget makers are falling over themselves to shoehorn the stuff into their latest kit. In this feature-packed new clamshell phone from Sony Ericsson, 8GB of memory is crammed into the uber-stylish chassis.
The W980 Walkman will be out very soon, on a range of networks and price plans, or for around £350 SIM-free online. There's a good deal of excitement surrounding this phone, but is it going to justify it?
For once on a clamshell phone, both the primary and secondary screens are excellent. Sony Ericsson has given the W980 a terrific, ultra-sharp primary screen with a 240x320-pixel resolution and awesome pixel density.
The external colour screen sports a lower resolution, but is dedicated to browsing music with its accompanying touch-sensitive buttons, making for quick music navigation.
Conversely we found the main keypad less enjoyable to use. The circular keys are spaced apart a little too much, requiring extended finger travel. Users with chubbier digits may find the small menu and call-handling buttons too minute. One quirk is that the buttons required for taking photos are exactly opposite the camera. This means your fingers naturally cover the lens when holding the phone up, which is mildly annoying.
It's a solid, sturdy phone, however, with plenty of strength in the hinge to survive life on the road. But like all Walkman phones, this Sony Ericsson has no 3.5mm headphone socket -- you have to use a horrible proprietary adaptor to connect your own headphones.
This adaptor, when attached to a standard pair of earphones, gives you about three metres of cabling to deal with. It's long enough to use as a skipping rope. Music phones need 3.5mm headphone sockets as standard.
Still, inside the W980 is 3.6Mbps HSDPA data transmission, quad-band connectivity, A2DP stereo Bluetooth, 3D Java games, twin cameras for video calling, an FM radio and an FM transmitter for sending music to radio receivers, which works really well once you snag an empty part of the radio spectrum.
It's also got respectable support for Microsoft Exchange right out of the box, giving you BlackBerry-like push email, contacts and calendars over the air. We tried it out with our corporate email system and it worked perfectly. A terrific feature, if a little out of place on a music phone.
More relevant to its calling, the W980 is compatible with MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA and protected WMA format music files from Napster and 7digital et al. You can either drag and drop these files through Windows or sync them up with Windows Media Player.
In an iPhone-esque touch, screen orientation is handled by an internal accelerometer.
Landscape photos, for example, rotate by simply flipping the handset on
Unfortunately, the 3.2-megapixel camera doesn't have a flash, or a memory expansion slot. The 8GB of internal memory is a fair reason to consider omitting expandability, but we're all about having options.