What's better than a Walkman music player by your side while running in the park? Well, there is one and that is to have a Walkman phone and a pedometer in an all-in-one pack. Well, you've guessed it; it's the Sony Ericsson W710, the latest Walkman mobile phone from Sony Ericsson. The clamshell sports a 2 megapixel camera, a Memory Stick Micro memory card slot, a FM radio, and a set of nice fitness applications to store your results and to calculate how many calories you have burned on the track that day. It's a highly attractive combination that makes the first steps for Sony Ericsson on the mobile sports track. We'll see how it keeps up there.
Sony Ericsson W710 is one of those rare sport-oriented mobiles that have begun to emerge on the market recently. They seem to have a market niche of their own and though they are few in numbers, they are beginning to gain popularity. Several manufacturers already have recognized the need for those kinds of mobile phones. The truth is that as we begin to see the mobile phone as an indispensable part of our everyday lives, it would develop more and more to cover a broader part of our everyday technological needs.
When we are speaking of sports, the other recent phone that first comes to mind is most definitely the Nokia 5500 Sport. But we won't compare the two phones as we don't perceive them as direct competitors. First, Nokia 5500 has a dust and splash resistant body, and furthermore it is based on the Symbian OS and thus it offers more versatile and expandable software capabilities. In the same time, it costs more. So they are not really direct competitors since they are targeted at different customer groups.
The first sport-oriented handsets in fact were the ones with a body with increased resistance to moisture and dust. This is not the case with Sony Ericsson W710 although it features some sporty design solutions.
As it happens often in the mobile world, the W710 in fact has a twin - it is the Sony Ericsson Z710. Sony Ericsson tends to keep up their budget-oriented Z-series of clamshells and Sony Ericsson Z710 is one of its latest additions. The two handsets are practically identical except for the added Walkman features to the W710 such as the MegaBass equalizer preset and the TrackID function, as well as the sports features such as the pedometer and calories counter.
The Sony Ericsson W710 would be offered in two color combinations - a grey/white one and a violet/white one. The one we got to test was the grey/white one.
The retail package should include a 512MB Memory Stick Micro card, a sports Sony Ericsson HPM-65 stereo headset, a sports belt/armband clip, an armband and a USB data cable card but as we have always said - the contents of the retail package are market and country dependant.
Seeing W710 for the first time left us with an impression of cheap white plastic combined with unpretentious grey rubber - nothing fancy, really. Opening the clamshell, made things better, since the white plastic seemed glossy from the inside of the clam, while the grey plastic covering the insides felt and looked nice.
When it comes to dimensions, well… There's nothing impressive in that department too. The W710 is a rather fatty fellow with a width of 24.5 mm - but despite the size, it still doesn't fit into the heavyweight category with its 101 g which is a somewhat normal weight these days.
The front of the Sony Ericsson W710 is dominated by the large monochrome external display which can fit a lot of information for the user. The Walkman logo sits right beneath it and the grey rubber on both sides accommodates the dedicated music keys.
In fact, speaking of those side music keys they tend to resemble a lot the ones incorporated into the Nokia 5300 Xpress Music. Maybe because of the similar color combination (white/grey) we just couldn't help the feeling that these two are as if made by one and the same designer team.
A look at the left side reveals that they are not the only side keys though. There we also see a dual volume key and the camera shortcut key. Placing the camera key on the left side hinted us from the very beginning that the camera is not made to shoot in landscape mode.
An interesting element is the one under the side music keys - the one designated with the Memory Stick Micro logo. Although it resembled a memory card slot cap a lot it turned out it's a dummy cap after all and it only designates where the memory card is located. To gain access to it you have to remove the back cover.
Speaking of a camera, this one is located on the usual place for all clamshells - in the upper portion of the external cover.
The right side of the W710 incorporates only the Infrared port and a hardware keylock for the dedicated music keys. It's a nice feature and it does a good job in preventing unwanted press of those.
The Sony Ericsson doesn't have a dedicated standard audio jack. Instead it uses the proprietary Sony Ericsson Fast Port for connecting the charger, the headphones and the USB cable. Don't get disappointed though, you would still be able to use your favorite headphones with it since the headset supplied in the retail kit has a standard audio jack connector just for the purpose. The top of the W710 doesn't feature any keys at all but it does feature an important design element that we are so used to see in the Z-series line-up - an external loop antenna which can be used for strip fastening.
The back of the Sony Ericsson W710 is bare with the exception of the loudspeaker grill which is styled in orange. The cover is made of the same white pearl shiny plastic that we see when the clamshell is opened. As expected from a sports oriented mobile, the cover has a rather secure locking mechanism which is opened with a slide.
Beneath the cover we can see the standard Sony Ericsson BST-37 Li-Polymer battery with a capacity of 900 mAh. According to the manufacturer it should provide power for up to the impressive 350 hours of standby time and up to 10 hours of talk time. Unfortunately, we couldn't test the phone's battery life since we used the phone heavily during our tests and thus the battery life we experienced was not indicative for the real-life performance of the phone. Beneath the battery lies the SIM card bed which features the regular locking mechanism seen on almost all Sony Ericsson mobiles.
The Sony Ericsson W710 has a rather nice keypad that would suit the taste of every messaging fan. The navigation D-pad is precise enough while the alphanumeric keys have a rather positive feedback while typing. Beside the usual key arrangement, the keypad also features a dedicated Walkman key. The keypad has a dim orange backlighting which is unpleasantly uneven but does its job in the dark.