Sony Ericsson W850 review: A Walkman with a slide

GSMArena team, 06 November 2006.
Pages: 1234567Ľ

Sony Ericsson W850 is the next Walkman phone, but this time it comes in the slider form factor. It boasts a large display with QVGA resolution, full 3G capabilities with video calls, a 2 megapixel camera and the latest Walkman 2.0 music player. It's an expensive mobile to start with but hopes are that it's got more than needed to become a bestseller. Our job is to look through it thoroughly and present you some good information about it. In the end, the buying decision is all yours.

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Official Sony Ericsson W850 photos

Key features:

  • High quality 2 megapixel camera
  • Memory card slot with hot swap functionality
  • Comes with 1GB memory card included
  • 3G support with video calls
  • Great MP3 player
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Infrared port
  • Bluetooth stereo support (A2DP)
  • Multi-tasking support
  • TrackID music service
  • Light Effects mode for the backlighting
  • Included headset has a standard 3.5 mm audio adapter

Main disadvantages:

  • Uncomfortable navigation solution
  • Camera has no autofocus
  • No EDGE (W830 has EDGE, but no 3G)
  • Records video in the inadequate QCIF (176 x 144 pixels) resolution only

The first time we saw W850 it was in the popular "Da Vinci code" movie even before the handset itself was announced. The strangest thing was that it was not used as a Walkman music player but purely for it web browser capabilities. We suppose it should say something about the versatility of the device.

When it comes to functionality, the Sony Ericsson is almost identical to K800 and as long as the manufacturer is concerned, both would be positioned in the same price class. So good things don't come cheap, as you would see. And W850 is really a nice handset features and performance-wise - it boasts all the treats for the music-loving Walkman die-hard fan. In fact, it comes in two versions, just as K800 does. The only difference between the twins W850 and W830 are the available connectivity options. While W850 comes with GPRS/UMTS networks support along with video calls, just as K800, the Sony Ericsson W830 comes packed with GPRS/EDGE networks support only, just as K790 does.

The slight difference though is that W850 is now available, while we are still waiting for W830 to hit the market. Anyway, bear in mind that we are talking about identical mobiles and this review holds true for both of them.

So let's get back to our review. The Sony Ericsson W850 is available in two color flavors - one in matt black and one in pearl white. The one we got to test was the dark variant.

As regards the retail package, the box should include the Sony Ericsson stereo headset HPM-70, a USB cable and a 1GB Memory Stick Duo Pro card but as we have always said - the contents of the retail package are market and country dependant.


Sony Ericsson W850 retail package

Stylish music box

Sony Ericsson W850 design does not follow the latest trends in slimness, nor does it impress as a lightweight device. It weighs 116 g and when closed, it is as large as K800, being only a tad shorter. In fact its measures of 98 x 47 x 21 mm make it just about the size of Sony Ericsson W800. Despite its weight when held in hand the mobile does not seem heavy at all and is perfectly balanced. The body is made out of matt plastic, which feels very nice to touch. What is more, the display is the only place where you can find traces of fingerprints.

In terms of construction, we are not very pleased with the slider, because it gave out creaking sounds every time we touched it. Otherwise, the sliding mechanism is firm and steady allowing for the phone to be opened and closed single-handedly.

When closed, the greater part of the front panel is taken by the large 2" TFT display. It looks a lot like the one used in K800, and even the speaker grill above the display looks absolutely the same. Never mind, we have always found the design of K800 really stylish, so there is no wrong in copying some elements.

It's worth mentioning that the two elements on both sides of the ear speaker grill are in fact keys, just as in K800/K790. These are called Photo keys and serve as context keys for various functions such as view camera album pictures in fullscreen, view camera album pictures in thumbnail mode or turn on/off the camera LED flash.

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Sony Ericsson W850 when closed

Opening the handset reveals the alphanumeric keypad, which is made out of the same material the body is made of. The styling is great and it is rather comfortable to work with, but more on navigation and keypad is to come later on in the review.

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Sony Ericsson W850 when opened ē Zooming in on the keypad

The left side of the slider is pretty bare and in fact, it doesn't accommodate any keys at all.

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Left side view

Such is the case with the bottom part of the device, which incorporates only an eyelet for neck strip on the right, the Infrared port on the left, and the usual Fast Port in the middle, which is used for charging and for attaching any peripherals such as the earpieces.

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Bottom part

As usual, the right side of the mobile boasts the camera shutter key and the two volume keys.

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Right side

Strangely enough though, the usually dull upper part of the handset accommodates the memory card slot beside the on/off key and the light sensor. The memory card format used is the Memory Stick PRO Duo, which is really nice since it would offer full compatibility with Memory stick card that you perhaps already own. Of course, that would hardly be necessary, since W850 is supplied with a 1GB card in the retail package. And if that's just not enough you can always buy a larger capacity card since those are already available.

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Top part

The back panel of the phone has a rather interesting surface texture. It provides for a nice firm grip and doesn't catch any visible fingerprints. What is more, it looks very nice and attractive. The main design elements on the back are the Walkman logo, which in fact hides the loudspeaker grill, the 2 megapixel camera lens, the camera flashlight LED and the self-portrait mirror.

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W850 back panel

Sliding the upper part of the phone up reveals another interesting design solution. The back part of the upper panel, which is revealed when the slider is opened, is covered with a metal plate that bears the Walkman logo.

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Sliding the phone out

Removing the battery cover is straightforward as always and poses no trouble, while the cover itself is tightly closed. Beneath it lays a standard Li-Polymer Sony Ericsson BST-33 battery with a capacity of 950 mAh. The SIM card bed is right under it and is a standard Sony Ericsson one, meaning that the SIM is easy to put in but a nightmare to pull out with bare hands. According to the manufacturer, the battery should last up to 350 hours of standby mode and up to 7 hours of talk time when used in GSM-only network. The most exciting promise of the manufacturer though is that the battery would allow W850 to play music continuously for the amazing 30 hours.

We did spend a few days using the phone in the way a regular user would, spending about 10-15 minutes of talking a day and using almost no other feature and the fully charged battery kept the W850 running only for 3 twenty-four-hour periods in GSM-only network.

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Removing the battery cover

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