Sony Ericsson W980 is finished in nice glossy plastic that gives it those sleek and sexy looks. Its mirror-like front surface is not the easiest to work with but is visually impressive. The main problem here is fingerprint smudges. Those are a huge issue with the W980 and we had to spend almost as much time cleaning the handset as we did using it.
The Sony Ericsson W980 stands at 92 x 46 x 16.9 mm, which is compact enough for a clamshell phone. It seems rather large when opened but is in fact very pocket-friendly when closed. Besides, it weighs the delightful 100 g.
The front panel of Sony Ericsson W980 looks as if it holds no controls whatsoever. When the handset is dormant, the whole front is just one solid piece of opaque mirror. As soon as you press a key however, eye-pleasing illuminations appear to mark the location of the touch-sensitive controls. Those are in charge of the music player and the FM radio without even opening the phone.
There is a lock slider on the side of Sony Ericsson W980 that comes in handy for avoiding accidental presses. The volume rocker is also placed on the side, as usual.
We however didn't like the Walkman key location much. It's placed under the cover, so you have to open the flip to use it. It would have been much more comfortable somewhere on the side, so you can use the Shake control feature without bothering to flip up.
The lower part of the front is decked with a transparent stripe. It illuminates to create light effects to the currently playing music track. Those light effects are also available when you play some of the preinstalled games but in different color. We know it's only eye-candy with no actual use but that doesn't make it any less cool, does it?
Opening the Sony Ericsson W980 reveals the 2.2" QVGA display. The moderately sized screen doesn't quite befit a flagship device that the W980 is supposed to be. It is capable of showing up to 262K colors and really won us over with picture quality.
The keypad of Sony Ericsson W980 has rather extraordinary looks (very much like the low-end R306 radio) with its round buttons. It is however quite comfortable to use due to the large enough keys and sufficient space between them.
It's difficult though to say the same about the soft keys that are too tiny for our taste. They are a nuisance to use if you have larger fingers - pressing some of the neighboring keys seems imminent.
A nice feature in Sony Ericsson W980 is the ambient light sensor that is placed slightly below the display. It takes care of adjusting the display brightness according to the current lighting conditions.
The thing to note at the rear is the 3 megapixel camera lens. Sony Ericsson didn't bother putting either auto focus or flash, so you probably understand you're not to expect miracles of it. Its placement is also quite inconvenient as it is exactly where your index finger will normally rest when shooting. You will need to work out a proper way of holding the W980 when taking pictures.