All messages, except emails, use one Inbox. No matter what kind of message has been received, it goes to the common Inbox. Only email messages have their own separate Inbox. There is a My Friends feature, which works like an instant messaging application and can be used if your network operator supports it. The phone also offers a RSS feeds reader that in fact uses the NetFront web browser.
When you start typing a message, first you must choose from the three variants: Text message, Picture message or Voice message. There is no point in that as you can easily transform a SMS into a MMS along the way by simply attaching multimedia objects to the message. The editor shows up to 5 lines en bloc. There is a character counter, which activates when you reach 20 characters before the 160 limit. When you pass the limit a "2 SMS" warning sign comes up for a second to alert you that the message will be divided in two parts. Of course, there is the T9 dictionary to assist the typing.
The email client supports POP3 and IMAP protocols. It can also manage several accounts simultaneously. You can choose from downloading only headers or headers and text. The phone can automatically check for new emails at a preset interval.
Sony Ericsson W850 supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, E-AAC+, WAV, WMA, M4A and MIDI file formats. The Walkman media player is version 2.0 and features improved interface. It has several equalizer presets including the proprietary Mega Bass. It can be set to run in background so you can do other things with the phone while listening to music. When in background mode, there is an indication of the name of the song and artist of the track currently playing in the top part of the screen. The control of the player is intuitive and really easy to use. It even displays the album cover during playback if there is one.
We are really pleased with the improved user interface. The sound is nice, too. We were even pleasantly surprised with the performance of the external loudspeaker when it comes to listening to music. The mid and high tones sound great and there are even some low ones. There is a certain crack sound when playing music at the highest volume level though. The only music phone we've seen recently to sound better through its external loudspeaker is the Sony Ericsson W950, but then again it doesn't play music as loud as W850.
The video player of W850 is nice and offers the option to watch videos in landscape mode.
The FM radio has a memory for 20 preset stations and supports RDS. It also features the TrackID option which records several seconds from the song you are listening to at the moment, connects to the Gracenote servers and should hopefully identify it for you. So if you happen to hear a great song on the radio you can always get the name and artist and even buy it directly online.
If you have used other Sony Ericsson handsets you won't be surprised by the W850 file manager because there are no significant improvements here. On the other hand if you are still new to SE phones, well let me tell you that they have one of the best non-OS file managers. It allows you to mark files (single or multiple), copy them, move them, and also create and delete folders as you please. There are three tabs of file lists - one for the phone memory files, one for the memory stick files and one mutual for all files. By selecting a given tab you can filter the file list you wish to see.
Browsing your pictures is as easy as ever - you could do that in a list view with or without thumbnails while the file names are visible. You can also choose to view your pictures as a grid matrix of thumbnails in 2 x 2 or 3 x 3 grids with no file names visible. The video files can also be browsed as thumbnails.
You can view the pictures themselves vertically (in portrait mode) just as you would on any other phone or horizontally (in landscape mode) if you prefer. When viewing the pictures one by one the phone preloads a lower quality preview in order to allow you fast browsing Once you find a picture, you would like to see in its full glory you should stop browsing for a second and the phone would load it with its normal quality.
You can zoom in to the actual size of the picture or even more, up to 32x. Zooming is performed by small incrementing steps. That allows greater control but is kind of irritating since you have to go through several stages before you zoom in enough to check the details.
The interesting thing about the file browser is the Timeline view, which allows you to filter the pictures according to the month they have been taken in. After you specify the month, you could even choose the exact date. That sort of image filtering is offered by computer picture browsers and digital cameras. The Timeline sorting is seen more and more often lately in the recent Sony Ericsson phones.
While browsing pictures you can easily do a little bit of editing on them or send them as MMS and email or via Bluetooth and Infrared. You can even upload the selected image to an online blog.
If you intend to do detailed editing of the picture, the PhotoDJ application is at your disposal. With its help you can easily adjust levels, light balance, brightness and contrast, remove unwanted red-eye effect, apply some color effects to the picture such as negative and sepia, or you can add a frame or a text to the picture.