Sony Ericsson W980 Walkman review: 8 gigs of character

GSMArena team, 23 May 2008.
Pages: 12345678

Sony Ericsson W980 360-degree spin

In clamshell terms, Sony Ericsson W980 has the rather compact dimensions of 92 x 46 x 16.9 mm. It also weighs exactly 100 grams, which doesn't sound like tearing a hole in your pocket. Our 360-degree spin of the Sony Ericsson W980 pretty much says it all.

Design and construction

In plain words, Sony Ericsson W980 is hot. The glossy front looks terrific and gives the phone a classy look when closed. Flipping it up ruins some of the pleasure, as the round buttons on the keypad are suspiciously reminiscent of the low-end Sony Ericsson R306. Imagine how that's immensely flattering the other way around. Anyway, we are still pleased with the exterior of Sony Ericsson W980 and we are sure it will make the right impression in public.

We start inspecting the Sony Ericsson W980 flip in closed position. The front panel features the square secondary display of 262K colors and a resolution of 176 x 176 pixels. When it's off, it blends perfectly with the opaque mirror surface, so much so that you cannot even guess its exact location.

Sony Ericsson W980
The piano black front panel of Sony Ericsson W980 looks awesome

Below the secondary display of Sony Ericsson W980 there are 7 touch-sensitive keys. Those are music player controls and thanks to them and the external display you can access and navigate your music player without even opening the flip. Furthermore, the FM radio can also be operated without flipping up, thanks to a dedicated key on the side of the handset.

For the radio to work however, you need the headset plugged in. When the W980 was first announced it bragged a built-in antenna to save you the effort but this has gone missing somewhere in the pre-production phase.. Real pity, as it would have been another exotic feature for Sony Ericsson W980 owners to take pride in.

The last element of interest on the front panel of Sony Ericsson W980 is the transparent stripe at its lowest part. Using some color LEDs it creates those really cool light effects when listening to music or playing games. This is undoubtedly one useless yet cool feature that we like the Sony Ericsson W980 for.

There are two colors for the light effects - orange and white. The first one is reserved for the Walkman music player and the best thing about it is that it flashes to the rhythm of the currently playing track.

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Thumbs up for the light effects

Opening the Sony Ericsson W980 reveals the 2.2" main display and the keypad, which will get its due attention later on. Above the display is the secondary video-call camera. The earpiece is on its right side. At the bottom of the flip, right above the keypad, we find the ambient light sensor.

The ambient light sensor is a nice addition to the Sony Ericsson W980. It takes care of adjusting the display brightness according to the current lighting conditions. This benefits both user experience and battery life, as reducing the brightness reduces power consumption.

The FastPort connector is placed on the left side of Sony Ericsson W980. The manufacturer has once again used a combined port for charging, data transfers and earphones. This time however, they have come up with a very practical solution for the DC charger plug. It allows you to connect a second accessory along with the charger. This can come in handy if you want to listen to the radio while recharging.

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The FastPort connector the charger of Sony Ericsson W980 is a nice novelty

The other things worth noting on the left side of Sony Ericsson W980 are the lanyard eyelet, the LED status indicator and one of the stereo speakers.

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Sony Ericsson W980's left side

Naturally, the other speaker is on the right side of Sony Ericsson W980. Above it is the lock slider. It is a very convenient way of avoiding some unwanted presses, especially having in mind that the touch-sensitive keys respond to any kind of touch - not just by your skin only, but any object that might turn out in your pocket.

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The right side hosts the second loudspeaker and the lock slider

Above the lock slider is the key used for toggling stand-by, FM radio and Music player mode for the external screen. The last control on the right side of Sony Ericsson W980 is the volume rocker.

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The other keys on the right of Sony Ericsson W980

Quite customary in a clamshell, there is nothing of interest at either the top or the bottom of Sony Ericsson W980.

The rear side of the handset is finished in some nice rubber-like material. It gives a pleasant feel and, if it wasn't for the manufacturer logo, it would have also provided a reasonable degree of slip proofing when the handset is placed on a desk for example. The thing is the logo sticks out a few millimeters causing the handset to wobble when rested on its back.

In addition to the unpleasant feel, that also means that the logo will be the first thing to experience the everyday wear and tear.

As far as the functional elements on the rear are concerned, Sony Ericsson has a 3 megapixel camera with neither auto focus nor flash. Its performance will be duly covered in the relevant chapter of this review. Next to the camera lens is the light sensor that should take care of picking the correct settings for the camera to shoot.

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The back side of Sony Ericsson W980

The camera lens itself is rather inconveniently placed exactly where your index finger would rest when shooting with the Sony Ericsson W980. Getting a comfortable hold of the handset, when taking a photo, is quite a challenge.

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The 3 megapixel camera could have been better placed

Opening the battery cover reveals the 930 mAh BST-38 Li-Polymer battery. As we managed to confirm it is quite a performer, allowing about 4 days of moderate use. The manufacturer claims the handset is also capable of up to 20 hours of music playback, which sounds like a quite a deal.

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The 930 mAh battery has longer life than you would expect

We are generally pleased with the build quality of Sony Ericsson W980. The handset feels and looks attractive and durable. There were no creaks or other signs to suggest problems with the day-to-day handling. It also feels great in hand and, if it wasn't for the fingerprint-magnet surface and the few ergonomic flaws we already mentioned, we would've given it a perfect mark. As the things stand now - very good should do.

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Sony Ericsson W980 handles nicely

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