Sony Ericsson W550 review: Walkman for less

Ivo Mareček, 29 November 2005. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
Pages: 1234

Sony Ericsson W550 features Walkman music player, plenty of internal storage, good mobile internet options and an interesting construction. However, it lacks memory card slot. Is it to offer something more than the competitors? To find out - read the following review.

Key features

  • full-featured MP3 player
  • radio with RDS
  • excellent sound quality
  • top-quality display
  • various accessories including a pair of very good earphones
  • internet browser
  • charging through USB

Main disadvantages

  • no memory card slot
  • keypad not very convenient
  • no EDGE

Do you feel like getting yourself a good stylish phone with a MP3 player? And you find Sony Ericsson W800 much too expensive and conservative? Then you may consider Motorola E398 for example... ah...no, I got carried away. In fact, I meant the new Sony Ericsson W550.

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Official photos

Sony Ericsson W550 has a lot of common with its forerunner, but it has been added some brand new useful functions facilitating the work with internet. The phone has already appeared in the shops and is being offered for a price lower than the one of W800.

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No doubt pictures are taken with a horizontal hand-hold

I will not dare recommend Sony Ericsson W550 to highly conservative users. Its design has been created to provoke and, to tell you the truth, it is quite successful in doing so. However, if you do not want to look much too eccentric, simply replace the orange cover with a white one and you can be sure that no one will notice that your phone hides something interesting. Considered its rich equipment, Sony Ericsson is a truly good mobile phone for all those, who love music and technological innovations.

Japan in Europe

Sony Ericsson W550 yields in many aspects to the typical non-traditional Japanese mobile phone. The trouble is that European customers still tend to accept what is standard in Asia with a certain dose of skepticism. Sony Ericsson's designers have made some serious experiments with W550, which make me forecast that this model's commercial success might be somewhat backpedaled by the general conservativeness of the Europeans.

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Comparison to Sony Ericsson D750

In the delivery box you will find two covers - an orange and a white one. I myself find the combination of silver body and white cover more attractive than the one with the orange cover. Nevertheless, it is doubtless that the latter is indispensable, for the orange has already become a kind of a label for all Walkman models of Sony Ericsson. The manufacturer has also prepared a dark red cover version, but it is not a part of the delivery package and has to be bought additionally.

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No spring seems to be helpful when opening this phone - similar to the rotating Sony Ericsson S700

The rotating construction results into the phone being a bit thicker than other mobile models. The good news is that the thickness of 23 mm is compensated by the lower parameters of the other two dimensions. Unfortunately, the weight is not pleasing, either. The phone is 120 g, which is somewhat heavy.

Display = quality

Regarding the display, the differences between the W800 and the W550 models are minor. Both feature the same high qualities; they both are easy-to-read at direct daylight and are able to show 262K colors. I cannot complain even about the backlighting, for I did not see any differences in the intensity between the middle part of the display and its margins.

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Display is brilliant, indeed

The main menu offers four basic graphic themes to choose from. Within two of the motives the icons start pulsing when selected, in the other two the icons are displayed in the form of a sliding animated menu bar. The overpasses into deeper menu levels are viewed as eye-taking animations. The two menu bar themes are probably quite energy-intensive, because at applying them the phone seems to be relatively slower than usual. The standard menu is fast though. It manages animation without delays. Unfortunately, the animation is not possible to deactivate for good.


Preinstalled graphic themes

The display surface reflects every single finger print or smudge. In this respect, a stylish clothe for cleaning the display's surface would have certainly been appreciated by the user.

SMS need to be improved

As the keypad is hidden behind the rotating top part of the phone, the keys had had to be designed to be situated below the rotating level. In result, they are much too flush, which influences the writing process, making it less comfortable. You will come across a similar problem when using the functional keys mounted on the side parts of the phone.

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The central point of the keypad backlighting is situated under the middle line

The functional keys are a completely different "pair of shoes". This holds true especially for the four-way control button situated centrally, below the display. It is brilliant indeed. It reacts with exactness and clear clicks without having to be pressed hard. The circle bed where options are confirmed feels as if it has been created for nothing else but the ball of your thumb. The keys that surround it are a little bit tougher to press, which in no way nips in their quality.

Buttons everywhere

As you may have already noticed, manufactures tend to use the side parts of their new models as useful space for installing various additional elements more and more. The W550 model is no exception to this tendency. A big part of the phone's bottom side, for example, is occupied by the port, through which the mobile is connected to the PC, the charger or the earphones. Above the connector you will find a tiny slot for the microphone.

The right side part of the W550 model features the second speaker, the infrared port, the release button of the camera as well as a pair of buttons which control the volume, switch music files and zoom when the phone is in camera mode. If you press the volume button when the device is in stand-by mode, info about the phone's state will appear on the display. Among everything else, this information includes details about the active profile, the free memory space available and the battery capacity in percents.

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Main connector and the elements on the phone's right side

The first button on the left side of the phone starts the radio or the Walkman music application. Which one exactly is up to you. The second button on the left side locks and unlocks the keypad. The keypad gets locked, if the button is moved downwards. The same move unlocks it as well. The entire system is extremely easy to get used to.


Manipulating the phone with both hands (AVI, DivX 5.2, 2.2 MB)

On the top side level there is a switch on/off button, which also serves the ringing profiles; here you will also find the eyelet for the phone's strip. The two buttons mounted above the display are the specialty of the W550 model. They are used in the camera applications and the mobile games.

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Keys above the display are really unusual

A step towards comfort

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Sony Ericsson W550 fits perfectly in hand

The joint of the phone works well and does not fluctuate. I confess that I felt somewhat uncomfortable at the fact that when once opened leftwards the phone is not possible to close but again rotating leftwards. A clear click confirms that the phone has been closed safely.


It is relatively complicated to close and open the phone with one hand only (AVI, DivX 5.2, 1.9 MB)

The back side of the device is dominated by the lens of the built-in 1.3 megapixel camera and its accessories - like the tiny convex mirror for making self-portraits or the flash LED created to help the camera in unfavorable light conditions. The LED's intensity is so high, that you can easily use it as a pocket lamp. The last element that is to be found on the rear cover of the phone is the loudspeaker (enables listening to music without using earphones).

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View at the back side of the phone

Li-Pol for the Walkman

Music is battery-intensive. Sony Ericsson has installed a Li-Pol (Lithium Polymer) battery of 900 mAh capacity not only in the W550 model, but also in its last two phones W800 and K750. The new model is said to have a battery life of 400 hours, but to me, this statement could be seen as realistic, only provided the phone load is minor. Once you plug in the earphones, you will start running out of energy fast. The battery gets charged in approximately two hours.

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The SIM card fits under the battery

To insert the SIM card you will need to remove the back cover and extract the battery. The SIM card is to go into the right upper corner, below the Sony Ericsson logo.

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