Sony Ericsson W980 Walkman review: 8 gigs of character
Display much to our liking
The primary display of Sony Ericsson W980 is a 2.2" TFT unit of QVGA resolution and 262K colors. It is not quite what you would expect in a top-of-the-range phone in terms of size, but picture quality makes up for that. The secondary screen is also capable of showing up to 262K colors but has the modest resolution of 176 x 176 pixels.
The Sony Ericsson W980 primary display has commendable contrast and brightness levels. In addition, the long standing sunlight legibility issue with some of the Sony Ericsson handsets is at least partially resolved. With the W980 the display might not be perfectly visible in every position, but there are enough angles for problem-free working with the device.
We are not as pleased however with the external display. The shiny surface severely reduces sunlight legibility. Even indoors, its picture quality isn't as impressive. On the other hand, that's an issue with most external displays, so Sony Ericsson W980 is not to be judged so harshly.
Keypad gives mixed feelings
We are rather pleased with the alphanumeric part of the keypad of Sony Ericsson W980. The keys are comfortably sized and there is more than enough space between them so you can hardly make a typo. The press feedback and touch orientation are also quite good. We are happy with the typing skills of Sony Ericsson W980.
What we don't like is the six keys around the D-pad. Those are way too tiny and very hard to use, especially if you have larger fingers.
Other than that, we have little complains. Even the touch-sensitive keys on the front panel are nice to use. We still prefer the regular press keys but those somehow managed to avoid getting on our nerves.
The backlighting of Sony Ericsson W980 is strong enough but slightly uneven. Still it is good enough for making the phone perfectly usable in the dark. Furthermore, the light effects look all the more cooler in such conditions making the handset a real eye-catcher.
User interface really snappy
A high-end phone, it is no wonder Sony Ericsson W980 has the most advanced version of the user interface of the house. The UI has the typical Sony Ericsson feature phone styling, and offers an extensive set of options and settings.
The standby screen of Sony Ericsson W980 has pretty standard looks. It shows the pre-selected wallpaper and the typical status info in the top bar. That includes signal strength, battery status, the type of currently used data transfer method (3G, EDGE, GPRS) and the icon of the currently active profile (none if General is selected). Beneath the top bar are the operator logo, the clock and date. The bottom bar is reserved for the descriptions of the functions assigned to the confirming center of the D-pad key and the two soft keys.
There are four options for the main menu layout of Sony Ericsson W980. In addition to the traditional 4 x 3 grid, the main menu now has a couple of alternative views: rotating and single icon. The last option is to use the layout of the currently selected Flash Lite theme.
There is nice icon animation, which is most obvious when one of the standard Sony Ericsson themes is applied. When you select an icon it smoothly pops up on the display for a moment before you see the next screen. Besides, there are a number of animated transition effects throughout the interface plus some eye-candy reflections.
Sony Ericsson W980 features the well-known Activity menu, which is a really handy, especially for a feature phone. It offers quick access to a number of selected functions. In addition, the Running Apps tab takes care of multi-tasking.
With Sony Ericsson W980 you can even minimize the status window when you receive files via Bluetooth and restore it through the Running Apps tab. However, this is not the case when you are sending content via Bluetooth. The other features of the Activity menu are quick access to recent events, web menu and the My Shortcuts tab, which is a user-configurable list of favorite features.
As most previous models, Sony Ericsson W980 comes with a dedicated Flight mode. It switches all transceivers off but, unluckily, requires a reboot. The other problem with the flight mode is that it can only work with a SIM card inserted, unlike some of the handsets offered by competing brands.
In general the user interface of Sony Ericsson W980 is really snappy with no lagging or holdups anywhere. We wouldn't have expected any different in a high-rated device anyway.