Sony Ericsson W960i

So close yet so far: the feature-packed W960i smartphone stands out on paper but is held back by a clunky processor and a laggy interface.


7.6
CNET Rating
8.4
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design
The W960i sports dimensions closer to a PDA handset than any of the recently released Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. The W960i is wider than your average mobile phone, but without being ungainly. In fact, if you want an accurate idea of how the W960i will feel in your hand -- and in your pocket -- then spending some time with the Sony Ericsson P1i will offer the closest comparison in size and weight you're likely to find.

Also similar to the P1i, the W960i employs a jog-wheel on the left side of the handset, which is pressed in to make selections. On the right of the phone are volume adjustment keys and a dedicated camera button for opening the camera app and firing off photos. At the base of the phone is a standard Sony Ericsson input port; used for charging, USB connectivity and as a Sony Ericsson headphone jack. As with all music-focused phones, we'd love to see a 3.5mm headphone jack, but it seems we'll have to accept that Sony Ericsson may never give us one; the upside to this being that the bundled headphones offer excellent sound quality.

The bright 2.6-inch QVGA (320x240) display is large enough to make good use of the touchscreen functionality, and a stylus, tucked away on the top-left corner of the phone, is on hand to help with some of the smaller, larger-than-finger selections, of which there are plenty.

Features
Sony Ericsson has obviously thought hard about implementing touchscreens into their mobile devices. Unlike full touchscreen mobile phones, such as LG's Viewty, which force you along the learning curve before you can navigate all touchscreen menus fluently, Sony Ericsson's phones, the W960i included, offer multiple input methods -- both physical and virtual -- effectively allowing you to decide which input method is best for you in a variety of different menu and application contexts.

On the entertainment front the W960i features a predictably excellent Walkman music player. There's no doubt that the Walkman music application is the best and most attractive music player in a mobile device to date, and when you add navigation via the touchscreen and the jog-wheel, you have a winner. The W960i will play most popular music files types; with the exception of DRM protected files, like those purchased from the iTunes music store, and also supports album art display.

The W960i also features much of the business functionality you'd find in the P1i, as well as other popular smartphones; calendars and organisers, and the business card reader we liked so much when we reviewed the P1i. This software's ability to identify the different information on a business card from a black-and-white photo is nothing short of astounding. The W960 supports POP3 and IMAP e-mail, including push-e-mail for IMAP accounts.

A few of the advances on Sony Ericsson's previous Walkman smartphone, the W950i, are the inclusion of a 3.2-megapixel camera with auto-focus, which takes excellent photos, 3G and Wi-Fi data connections for Web browsing, and the increase of the non-expandable internal memory from 4GB to 8GB, all of which show the W960i to be much more than an incremental update on its predecessor.

Performance
While there is a lot to like about the W960i, the sheer weight of its features makes the operation of the phone very slow and clunky indeed, and it's a crying shame. The W960i runs on a 220MHz ARM9 processor -- as used previously by Sony Ericsson in the P1i, amongst others -- which is inadequate for performing the various tasks required. Some applications and menus can take five or more seconds to open, and even then, we encountered serious lag-spikes when trying to perform simple tasks, like accessing album lists in the Walkman player, or creating new SMS messages. The more we used the phone the more these lag spikes impaired our experience of the W960i.

Considering the input methods and Wi-Fi connectivity it was no surprise that the W960i excelled as a Web browser. Navigating pages and RSS feeds with the jog-wheel is a breeze and, with the help of the stylus, using the touchscreen feels natural and intuitive.

Surprisingly, we found text input to be cumbersome with the absence of Sony Ericsson's usually excellent predictive text input for SMS messaging and other text fields. Instead you're required to enter each letter manually -- either with the numeric keypad or an onscreen QWERTY keyboard -- until you have entered enough for the phone to make an educated guess. Ultimately this system requires far more button-mashing than should be necessary to tap out a text message.

As noted briefly above, the 3.2-megapixel camera is a gem, and out-does even some of the 5-megapixel camera phones we've seen recently. As with the rest of the phones operation, there is considerable lag entering camera mode and after you've pressed the shutter, but the auto-focus is sharp, the flash is bright, and overall the images we took looked great.

Overall
When we first heard about the W960i we started asking if this would be the Apple iPhone killer. On paper the W960i has the iPhone beat, with faster data speeds, a better camera, and comparable storage. With that considered you'd be probably be burned at the stake for suggesting the W960i was a more attractive device, and the slow operation may be enough to turn off a portion of shoppers.

But if you can get past the clunky interface there's no doubt a vast range of features waiting beyond the load times; both for basic business use and for entertainment.

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juuwwboy
8
Rating
 

juuwwboy posted a review   

The Good:its probe

The Bad:quites good

iz good aye some bad aye but evry phone hav bad aye but its good aye maybe very good aye nice aye

bmxjosh92
8
Rating
 

bmxjosh92 posted a review   

The Good:Camera,Wifi,Memory,Walkman and Software support

The Bad:Battery,Touch screen,only Wifi b not g,Startup speed and Sometimes slow reactions

I could almost say i love this phone, its almost as good as the iphone the worst thing about this phone is that it only sopports wireless b which is now old it also take some time to startup and sometimes the touchscreen die's for no reason. but when its all working its and awsome device

 

SHiNODA posted a comment   

The Good:best walkman, wifi, touch screen, 8gb internal memory

The Bad:battery easily weak

best walkman pda smartphone eva..!!! everything perfect except da battery..!!! 950mAh.. when surfing, hear the music 4 sure da battery will dry fast.. omg..!!

 

Jeff316 posted a comment   

The Good:Great Walkman Player, Flexible Symbian OS, Decent Feautures

The Bad:Lags on occasion (if more than 4 programs are open at once), Camera quality is not great, Uneven backlight and rather flimsy Keys

A great phone, had it for over 5 months now, nothing has gone wrong besides a few crashes due to abusing the available RAM. Overall great performance, Walkman player is amazing, although the rear speaker is by far not from the best mobile speakers around. A good buy, and I would recommend it to anyone.

tiffanysmith202
10
Rating
 

tiffanysmith202 posted a review   

The Good:just read the specs!

The Bad:?????? NOTHING ???????

this is one heck of a phone! the walkman is great and.............my grandmother can use it!

worth every cent!

jasonhandly
10
Rating
 

jasonhandly posted a review   

The Good:every thing!

The Bad:n/a

excellent! very handy and reliable!

mark jason
3
Rating
 

mark jason posted a review   

the touchscreen is no longer functioning properly. i need to bring my mobile to the nearest repair shop for it to be checked. seems like almost 3-4 times a day i have to turn if off by removing the battery since i can't receive a call nor i can make a call. turning it off by removing the battery since it hanged almost always and i can't use the on/off key on the upper left side of it. also the touch screen have a problem. it just started this morning. it won't function if you touch it on top of the "more" key. the "call" key, you have to touch it on top of the menu key. i'll have to bring it this afternoon. i've been using it for almost 6 months.

alvinf1209
1
Rating
 

alvinf1209 posted a review   

must upgrade the speed of the program.
The UI must be better

meh_unlimited
9
Rating
 

meh_unlimited posted a review   

The Good:The design is very nice in my opinion. I love how the front is glossy and the back feels like rubber for better grip, and the white strip which goes around the sides/top/bottom of the phone give a good balance. The UIQ interface I have found to be very finger friendly, the only time I use the stylus is for handwriting recognition as it is a very easy way to input data. The camera (and the software in particular) is supurb. You can navigate the menu with the jog dial, or simply press 3 to increase brightness, 2 to decrease brightness, 1 for image size, 2 for shoot mode, 7 for night mode and * for light. The camera doesn't have a xenon flash, but the dual LED lights work very well. The web browser is alright, tabs works well, it renders pages good, tabs are easy to use (although it IS limited to 4 tabs). Without an easy to use zoom function Opera Mini is a better alternative.

The Walkman application is simply outstanding. Compared to the iPhone/iPod Touch's music software, I will prefer the W960's any day. Sure it doesn't have the fun multi-touch menus, but it does its job very well. Full-screen visualisations, mood assigning, equaliser, auto playlists (creating playlists of songs from certain years, moods, etc) is simply excellent. Wi-Fi works excellent! The bundled office applications work very well, messaging works a charm.

The Bad:I wish the screen had a bigger resolution (QVGA is alright, but if it was VGA I would be in heaven), the bundled video application could have been somewhat better, and as excellent as Wi-Fi was, if 802.11g was included it would push it over the bar for internet access. Also if only it had HSPA...

Been using this phone for a few months now for all of its functions.

x1kenzo
9
Rating
 

x1kenzo posted a review   

The Good:Best storage no need to purchase memory sticks

The Bad:bulky

no need to pay extra money for mp3 player. just fit a normal user


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Ericsson W960i

  • juuwwboy

    juuwwboy

    Rating8

    "iz good aye some bad aye but evry phone hav bad aye but its good aye maybe very good aye nice aye"

  • bmxjosh92

    bmxjosh92

    Rating8

    "I could almost say i love this phone, its almost as good as the iphone the worst thing about this phone is that it only sopports wireless b which is now old it also take some time to startup and so..."

  • SHiNODA

    SHiNODA

    "best walkman pda smartphone eva..!!! everything perfect except da battery..!!! 950mAh.. when surfing, hear the music 4 sure da battery will dry fast.. omg..!!"

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