Sony Ericsson W995 review: Ready, set, play
Recent Sony Ericsson phones have been quite adept at messaging but in the Sony Ericsson W995 the Messaging menu has been slightly restructured and is all the better for it. The old interface was geared towards SMS/MMS with all the subfolders (Drafts, Outbox, Sent) appearing in the main Messaging menu. The new interface is much more concise and makes email equal to the other types of messages.
The Conversations submenu handles threaded SMS - messages between you and a contact are presented in a way that resembles an Instant Messenger application. Messages are sorted by contact into different "conversations".
Typically all messages but emails go into a shared inbox, while composing new messages regardless of their type (voice messages included) is centralized through the Write new submenu.
When composing a message the attachment toolbar is available under the text box, granting quick access to adding pictures, videos and sounds. The last two buttons on the toolbar will launch the camera or voice recorder in case you haven't prerecorded what you need for your MMS.
A smooth animation accompanies the switch between the slides of an MMS. This fits in very nicely with the rest of the UI, which doesn't seem content with things just "popping up" on the screen, but instead makes everything just flow seamlessly. Manage Messages is still on board allowing you to move messages to phone or external memory and arrange them by categories, date, size and contact.
The phone handles emails as easily as the other types of messages. It automatically downloaded the settings for our Gmail account. The variable font size and full screen view option, along with the bigger 2.6 inch screen, mean a lot more text can fit on screen. Even at the smallest font setting text remained legible.
For email, you get the Manage Email feature, which has the same functionality as the one for text messages. Saving attachments is problem-free, even if the phone doesn't recognize the file type.
The phone can't handle any documents that are attached to emails (such as .xls, .doc, or .pdf files for example) due to the lack of a document reader.
Media Center likes sharing
Digging deep in the Media Center of the W995 you almost get to think you are using a PMP rather than a phone. It is a portal to all the media the device can handle, both on the phone itself, on the web or via media sharing. It's navigated via a simple and intuitive interface complete with the smooth animations that are all over the phone UI.
The Media Center allows instant access to the Photos, Music, Videos, Games and Web Feeds on the handset. The current pick is highlighted and the count of stored files is displayed. Since the Sony Ericsson W995 is equipped with a built-in accelerometer, the Media center interface rotates automatically to match the handset orientation.
And that's not all the Sony Ericsson W995 has to offer. It supports DLNA, which means you can share media on the phone (music, pictures, videos, etc.) and play them on a DLNA compatible device over a wireless connection. There are DLNA compatible TV sets but a computer or a last generation gaming console will do just as well.
Excellent image gallery
The Sony Ericsson photo gallery is definitely among the best we've seen on a feature phone. It's a convenient tool for managing a vast collection of pictures with great customization capabilities and features. Some of those options include: one-click access to the latest snapshot you've taken, timeline view for your images and tags. Tags are a very helpful feature, offering better ways to make albums - one photo can belong to more than one tag, something you can't do with folders.
Viewing photos is a joy with the Sony Ericsson W995, especially when browsing images fullscreen. When you want to go to the next in line, it doesn't simply pop up but instead slides in from left or right. Selecting a photo zooms it in to fill the screen.
One place where the music and imaging skills of the phone come together is the Slide show. You're prompted to pick a mood (no "silent" option this time around) so it can set the proper music background and transition effects.
The Pictures section stores all the images that are not photos taken with the phone's camera. If the currently highlighted picture is animated (.gif) you get a nice preview.
Geo-tagging is of course available, hardly a surprise in such a feature-rich phone. You have the option to view the location where the picture was taken on a map (Google Maps).