Sony Ericsson roundup: W902, W595, W302 preview
User interface is clean and simple
Sony Ericsson W302 comes with 20MB of internal memory, but as Walkman usually has it, a memory card is part of the retail package. In this case it's a 512MB M2 unit.
The context keys in the interface follow the three-key layout found in all recent Sony Ericsson phones. Thanks to the Flash Lite theme support, the interface can be changed beyond recognition.
Unlike the more expensive Sony Ericsson handsets, the W302 lacks an Activity menu, which allows some multi-taksing. Instead, it only offers a customizable shortucts list.
The Sony Ericsson W302 image gallery is nothing spectacular. There is no Media manager for browsing multimedia files, so you have to rely on the regular file browser for this purpose. As we already pointed, the W302 offers excellent responsiveness, so browsing the 2 megapixel images was a breeze. Unfortunately, images cannot be browsed in landscape mode nor they can be zoomed in.
There's a second (and better) image gallery however, which is accessible only from the camera interface. It displays the images in landscape orientation for a more pleasant browsing.
The Sony Ericsson W350 is equipped with the Walkman music player 2.0, which is found on handsets such as the Sony Ericsson W350 for example. It has several equalizer presets but the proprietary Mega Bass is not among them.
The music player can be set to run in the background, so you can do other things while listening to music. When in background mode, the title and artist get displayed in the top part of the screen. The player is intuitive and really easy to use.
The music player can use the keypad backlighting as light effects, which blink to the rhythm of the currently playing track.
There are two other skins beside the standard black one and you can use those to suit your themes, since the theming itself doesn't change the music player interface.
The Walkman music player can display the album cover during playback or you can choose from the other available visualizations.
The Sony Ericsson W302 also has an FM radio that supports RDS. An extra feature is the TrackID music recognition service. If you want to get the name of a track that's playing on the radio, you just fire it up, it records several seconds from it and hopefully, gives back the name and artist after looking up the Gracenote servers (data charges apply if you are not on a flat rate data plan).
You can also use the TrackID service to record a sample of a track through the handset microphone.
Sony Ericsson W302 is equipped with a 2 megapixel camera that produces images with a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels. It's got the really sleek Cyber-shot interface but without most of the high-end features. Auto focus or LED flash are not available.
It's got a dedicated burst mode that takes four snapshots in quick succession for capturing action shots. Unfortunately, in Burst mode the camera shoots in VGA resolution only.
The camera also offers a Night mode, a self timer, some color effects and white balance settings. There is no choice of shutter sounds, but the existing tone can be muted.
Here are a couple of samples from the Sony Ericsson W302 camera:
Image quality was a nice surprise - it looks good for a 2 megapixel camera, but it still falls short of the best 2 megapixel examples we've seen recently - such as the Samsung D780, for example. You can check out some of its samples here.
Nevertheless, the W302 pulled off some nice shots with balanced sharpening and no traces of purple fringing. Contrast and colors are ok too. The W302 camera failed to capture the right white balance much like the W595, however this time we are dealing with a warmer setup, which is more pleasant than the slight bluish cast produced by W595.
As far as video recording is concerned, the Sony Ericsson W302 captures video in the meager QCIF resolution at 15 fps in 3GP format.
Sony Ericsson W302 preview conclusion
The Sony Ericsson W302 is without a doubt one looker of a handset. Featurewise it seems the most balanced Walkman handset to date in its segment. The nice music package and the slim profile will probably be its strongest selling points. Well, with the right price tag, that is.
There are a number of handsets already to offer even better feature sets in this segment and while the W302 certainly has its place in the Sony Ericsson portfolio, we can't help the feeling it comes at least a year late. Nokia 5310 is already gaining popularity and it's been around long enough to finally reach rather acceptable price levels.
The Samsung U600 is another excellent alternative although it's a different form factor - it has a nice display, excellent camera and top notch audio quality. And both these handset can be found for around 150 euro SIM-free.
So without underestimating the Sony Ericsson W302 potential and qualities, we do believe its success is very much staked on a reasonable price tag.