Sony Ericsson W508 review: Above the fold
Fixed focus 3 megapixel camera is nothing new
The 3 megapixel snapper, like most things about this phone, is the same as in the Sony Ericsson T707. It shoots at a maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels and has no autofocus or flash. Pictures are taken with the handset held in portrait mode, part of the display serving as the viewfinder. The center of the navigation key is the capture button.
The options include white balance, shot mode, geotagging and various color effects. You can capture panorama images by taking three consecutive shots using the dedicated shooting mode.
The image quality is the same as it was in the T707 - significantly short of exceptional - the noise-suppression processing is pretty harsh on the details, giving the photos a watercolor painting effect.
However you've got to remember our W508 is a pre-release unit so the camera will most probably be tuned differently (better) in the final retail product.
Again the video recording is limited to QVGA resolution at 15 frames per second - there are no surprises here. It's like most of the Sony Ericsson handsets in this class and we won't even bother publishing a sample.
Sweet and fluent browsing
Sony Ericsson W508 comes with the nice Access NetFront web browser v3.4 featuring the extended home screen, also available in the other recent Sony Ericsson handsets. Plenty of shortcuts arranged in a tree structure are listed on the homescreen right under a search and an address bar. The appearance of the home screen changes to various bright colors each time you start the browser too.
Elaborate web pages are rendered well and there are lots of configurable settings too. There is a full screen mode both in portrait and landscape view. Unfortunately, it must be switched manually because there is no auto-rotate capability. View modes include Text only, Pan and Zoom, and Zoom page. The panning/scrolling speed is up to standard.
The Sony Ericsson W508 web browser offers a virtual mouse pointer that is nice to work with. Another interesting and practical feature is the "Find on page" option.
Mid-range connectivity for a mid-range handset
The W508 scores highly on connectivity options. Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and 3G are all on board for worldwide roaming. HSDPA is also supported.
Besides the network-based connectivity, the Sony Ericsson W508 offers the usual Bluetooth v2.0 and USB options. There is also support for the A2DP profile allowing you to listen to music on a stereo Bluetooth headset. Last, but not least, there is also the M2 card slot, which is often one of the quickest ways of transferring data.
Typical organizer and familiar apps
The Sony Ericsson W508 offers a wide range of time-management features as is usual for its class. There is an Organizer icon in the main menu and it contains several applications: File manager ,Java Applications, Video call, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Synchronization, Timer, Stopwatch, Calculator, and Code memo.
The Calendar offers monthly, weekly and daily views. When you add a birth date in the phonebook, the phone prompts you to add it to the calendar. Tasks can be of two types: simple Tasks and Phone calls. Notes are written similar to messages and the T9 dictionary can be used here as well.
The Alarms application hardly needs any introduction. There are five alarm slots available. Each one offers a lot of options - you can choose to repeat the alarm on chosen days of the week or everyday.
As for the additional applications, Sony Ericsson W508 comes with AccuWeather, Music Mate 5, Music Quiz and Walk Mate, all well known from the Walkman series. The last app can be used as wallpaper.
Available for free download and compatible with a variety of mobile OS and Java-enabled handsets, Google Maps for Mobile come preinstalled on the Sony Ericsson W508.
After defining a start and end location, the possible routes are calculated with overall guidance based on the available information in the database.
Two different view modes are available - Satellite and Map view and the user interface is clean and intuitive. Traffic information is another important feature here.
Sony Ericsson W508 packs three preinstalled games. All of them are old and known: Bowling, Guitar Rock Tour, and FMX III.
The Sony Ericsson W508 is the first Walkman flip since the Sony Ericsson W980 and the two have a lot in common. It's sure welcome that the new Walkman midranger almost matches the specs of the high-end W980 that was released almost a year ago.
While the W508 doesn't have the roomy 8 GB internal storage of its spiritual forefather, it supports M2 cards of up to 16 GB, giving it even more storage potential as the W980 doesn't even have a card slot.
The FM transmitter is missing (it's still a strictly high-end feature), there are no stereo speakers and the external display is monochrome, but the W508 has a much more attractive price tag.
Online stores are currently accepting pre-orders for W508 at under 130 euro (180 US dollars) and the price will probably drop even further once the handset becomes available.
But the story of W508 won't be complete without its T-series twin. The Sony Ericsson T707, which we recently reviewed, is similarly spec'd but trades the Walkman moniker for a slight design edge. The T707 omits an accelerometer and the Walkman goodies but has some really cool light effects. Other than that, the two are pretty much identical in terms of hardware.
Basically, you shouldn't have any second thoughts about these two mainstream phones, as Sony Ericsson have come up with two rather capable mid-rangers in their ranks. However, the way we see it, the concept of an affordable style-driven phone (T707) is somewhat questionable. But an affordable music phone - which gets the real high-end Walkman treatment (W508) - sounds just right.