Sony Ericsson W508 review: Above the fold
The W508 is made completely of plastic and there's nothing about it that screams luxury. Under this modest guise however is a phone that certainly measures up to the Sony Ericsson W595, which we quite liked.
The clamshell measures 93.5 x 50 x 14 mm when closed and weighs 98g. Its 14 mm thickness is commendable as very few clamshells are more than a millimeter thinner.
Design and construction
Sony Ericsson don't seem too keen on clamshells lately - most of their recent releases have been either bars or sliders. In fact, the form factor as a whole seems to have been falling out of favor. It would be interesting to speculate as to why that is, but now's not really the time for an analysis of Sony Ericsson's design choices.
Anyway, the few flips they've released recently do look very similar. Let's check them out.
Just to clarify, the Sony Ericsson W508 and T707 are only slightly different breeds of the same species. It's the same chassis and specs, one repackaged as a Walkman and the other as a ladies' fashion phone.
The Sony Ericsson W508 is a midrange phone and that becomes clear on closer inspection. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery they say, and what better gadget to imitate than a former king of the hill? That's right, we're talking about the Sony Ericsson W980. The only reason we didn't include it in the selection above is the haughty Walkman wouldn't have blended in with the low and midrange crowd.
The W508 display is 2.2 inches in diagonal, which is the largest you get in Sony Ericsson flips but still not the most respectable size in clamshell terms. The unused space on the upper part of the clamshell doesn't make much sense and hurts the looks too. QVGA resolution and 256K colors make for decent picture quality and legibility under sunlight is passable, although viewing angles are not very wide.
The video-call camera is above the display next to the earpiece. That camera lacked on the T707.
The keypad is made of plastic and comes across as a cheap attempt to mimic that brushed metal look. It's quite practical though and it definitely feels better than it looks. We think the T707 keypad is more attractive, but the keys on the W508 are ergonomically much better. Then again the difference may be due to the pre-production status of our review units.
While both handsets use a flatbed membrane, the alphanumeric buttons on the W508 have a genuinely nicer press feedback and they are more raised than on the T707 and so are slightly more tactile. These slight differences are quite essentials as they can make or break the typing experience.
The control and navigation pad, which takes the upper part of the same flatbed that accommodates the numberpad, is quite user friendly. The call keys, along with the Activity Menu key and the Clear button are on each side of a round D-pad, while the soft keys are at the very top. The context keys are slightly bigger than those on the T707 and that's another point in favor of the Walkman.
The round D-pad raises no usability issues except that some users may miss the alternative color backlight in Walkman mode. The center key is big enough to use comfortably as is the direction rim, which is exactly the right width for perfect handling.
The keypad illumination is even, and light appears to spill down the keypad as it comes on and that's a nice visual enhancement.
On the right side of the W508 from top to bottom are the volume rocker, the lock slider and a slit with M2 written next to it. Don't get excited though, this just marks the location of the M2 card slot under the rear panel and the slit helps you pry the cover open.
The W508 left side is occupied by the standard FastPort only, yet again left uncovered. These two are small faults but still we'd like to see some improvement to the handsets as time goes on. A 3.5 mm audio jack would have scored some serious points in favor of the W508 but sadly, no such luck.
The bottom of the device is featureless - the mic hole is on the left of the 4 key.