Sony Ericsson W850i

The first slider phone in the Walkman series, the W850i has a lot of fun features but an annoying keypad design.

CNET Rating
User Rating

View more from Sony Ericsson »

About The Author

CNET Editor

We've seen Walkman phones in candy bar, clamshell and even swivel varieties, but never a slider. Until now. Sony Ericsson's W850i is the latest of the music-focused models, and the first to feature a slide-out keypad design.

With dimensions of 47mm by 21mm by 98mm, the W850i is almost identical to Nokia's 6280 in the pocket protrusion stakes. Weight-wise, it's just one gram heavier, tipping the scales at 116g. Sony Ericsson has long been hip to the cool kids' jive, and this model is no exception, with a funky-looking geometric texture adorning the back, and decorative circles and swirls giving a modern appearance.

Sony Ericsson certainly isn't big on the slider form factor, with most of its phones belonging to the candy bar or clamshell categories. The lack of experience with the slider design doesn't seem to have hampered the springy W850i though -- the top half glides up smoothly and settles into place with a satisfying click.

Where the W850i runs into problems is in the button layout. The navigation keys aren't so much keys as sections of the phone's surface, meaning moving around the menus requires a surprising amount of finger effort. The central selection key is recessed from the surface -- like a large dimple, but, without the accompanying smile. Two circular keys on each side of the navigation section are small and squished against the edges. The orange Walkman shortcut key is positioned as a thin horizontal strip between two rounded soft keys. Perhaps the Sony Ericsson designers feel they have to constantly reinvent keypad shapes in order to stay trendy, but when new shapes affect usability, it's time to get back to tried and tested configurations.

Turn the phone on its side, and it becomes a 2-megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom, photo light and a dedicated shutter key. For those into making video calls, a VGA camera lens is cannily integrated into the speaker on the front of the W850i.

The headphones/hands-free combo has the same impressive properties as that of previous Walkman phones -- the rubber-coated buds snuggle into your ear canal, sealing off the sounds of the outside world. A 3.5mm stereo socket on the microphone section of the headset allows you to plug in your own headphones if you fancy earcans instead.

Like the others in the Walkman series, the W850i is all about the music. Colour and movement has been added to the music player interface, with visualisations and a "heartbeat illumination" feature that makes sections of the keypad glow orange in a rhythm matching your music.

A big selling point for the W850i is the inclusion of TrackID: a song recognition service powered by Gracenote Mobile MusicID. This music identification app allows you to record an excerpt (up to five seconds) from a song, send the file to a database, and receive information on the artist and track name. It's a nifty little feature, especially if you use your phone to listen to FM radio.

The 3G W850i has also been built for generation Web, with an Access NetFront browser, RSS reader and POP3/IMAP e-mail support. Connectivity options abound, with support for USB mass storage, infrared, GPRS and A2DP-enabled Bluetooth (allowing you to stream those tunes to a wireless stereo headset).

Internal memory is 16MB, which isn't exactly spacious for a music phone. However, a Memory Stick PRO Duo is bundled into the mix -- and it's decently sized, too, at 1GB.

As fans of the Walkman series, we were looking forward to reviewing the first slider model. While the high standard of the music-focused range has been upheld in terms of user interface and solid sonic performance, the oddly designed navigation keys brought the W850i's score down.

Music sounded clear and full-bodied, and the bass line will have you feeling fine, even without the Bass or Mega Bass settings engaged. Song transfer using the bundled Disc2Phone software is a lengthy process, but the wait is worth it when you see how nicely your tunes are organised in the phone.

The light effects during music playback were fun for a while, if a mite gratuitous -- will (sober) people really stare mesmerised at their glowing handsets while cranking their tunes? Perhaps it will impress in a "can your phone do this?" kind of way.

It's a shame that the first 3G slider from Sony Ericsson suffers from a case of the nav button nasties. Besides the key design issues, we can find few faults with this model.

Add Your Review 64

* Below fields optional

Post comment as

Pierre posted a review   

The Good:Industructable!!! Good sound!

The Bad:Keypad cracked

Very nice phone!


Hippo-Hippy posted a comment   

The Good:Walkman and Muisc DJ. Lots of storage.

The Bad:After almost two years, it keeps turning itself off when I shut the slider. Not happy.

I thought it was a really good deal at the time. Now just waiting till May so I can dump this thing and the contract, and get an iPhone. It 'pixelates' the sound a bit. The camera could be much better. Is hard to remove the sim card when I really need it. I am not happy with this thing. >:(

CJ - xo

CJ - xo posted a review   

The Good:-Storage space
-Cool gadgets inside

The Bad:-My keypad thingo broke
-No longer charged
-Fades in and out


I loved it, Good storage space. Which I really needed. So much pictures and music. So GREAT for people like me. Awesome little things included like pic editor and video Dj more stuff like that. Great phone, except mine is now broken :(

<a href=>sony ericsson w888</a>

sony ericsson w888 posted a review   

The Good:Gorgeous color.
Small form factor.
Decent talk time.
Small stylish design.
Bluetooth 2.0 and USB for fast data transfers.
Solid construction.

The Bad:Nothing.

Great functioned mobile. I like its excellent quality of sound. Small in size, light weight and attractive looked Sony Ericsson W850i has many fast features. I like it.


snagger posted a review   

The Good:never get bored with it! seems to attract peoples attention!

The Bad:stuffed up and left direction, 2,4,8,0 and left earpiece keys stopped working and needed to be fixed. other than that its worked well!

awesome phone. had it for about a year and does the job pretty well


EagleLen posted a review   

The Good:Walkman 2.0 is decent

The Bad:D-pad cracks

It's a fairly good phone but the weird D-pad cracks =.=


vynncy posted a review   

The Good:-good sound quality
-loud enough
-good camera
-good battery life
-good music player
-1GB memory stick included
-even the memory is left 10kb or less,it'll still work fast
-Track ID is very helpful,it has it
-clear screen
-works fast
-internet speed is fast
-loudspeaker sounds loud n clear
-ringtone n message tone are real loud n clear
-looks real good
-good functions
-it has almost everything

The Bad:-keypad cracks easily,i mean the '4 tiny dots' (up,down,left,right) be gentle with em'
-the keypad is hard to press but once u get used to it ,it'll be just fine(don't need to worry bout it)

it's perfect!...i had it for a year n it was stolen.. i've been so sad because of it...i really loved it!!....i'm sure y'all will love it(especially for music lovers)...n it looks so good...i strongly recommend y'all to buy this phone!no regrets


turd_man5000 posted a review   

The Good:good

The Bad:weak

great phone but go easy on it, they break easy. one drop could be fatal. and my screen feel off :(


Timmy posted a review   

The Good:- Call quality is excellent (both video and voice)
- Speakerphone is excellent (loud and clear)
- The display is beautiful (crystal clear, but can smudge)
- Keypad navigation is fine after getting use to the layout.
- Never run out of memory with 1GB
- Battery life is good (3 days with heavy use).
- Bluetooth is fantastic (allows me to use phone as remote to control powerpoint slides during presentations)
- Looks great, sturdy construction,

The Bad:- battery life dies when a large amount of data is transferred via bluetooth.

This is the best phone I have ever owned! There really isn't anything that I can complain about. The camera isn't the best, but this isn't a camera phone, it's a walkman phone. If you want a better than good camera get a different phone.
IMHO there aren't any drawbacks to this phone. I can understand that some people might have received phones that are dodgy, but that will always happen. I have not had any problems and don't think there is anything wrong with this phone.


ronie4 posted a review   

I had this phone and it suffered a major component failure and was deemed as unrepairable

Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Sony Ericsson W850i

  • Pierre



    "Very nice phone!"

  • Hippo-Hippy


    "I thought it was a really good deal at the time. Now just waiting till May so I can dump this thing and the contract, and get an iPhone. It 'pixelates' the sound a bit. The camera could be much bet..."

  • CJ - xo

    CJ - xo


    "I loved it, Good storage space. Which I really needed. So much pictures and music. So GREAT for people like me. Awesome little things included like pic editor and video Dj more stuff like that. Gre..."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products