The Sony Ericsson R306 Radio will be available in Q3 2008 in two color combos - Coffee Black and Champagne White. We had the pleasure of the Coffee Black version.
Sony Ericsson R306 Radio has a stand-out design. The clamshell measures 90 x 47.9 x 15.8mm when closed and weighs 93g. The 15.8mm thickness is far from slim by any standard but the chubby clamshell handles quite well.
The body is made of plastic but a few shiny silver elements here and there certainly make a difference.
The display is a 65K-color TFT unit with a resolution of 128 x 160 pixels. It measures 1.9 inches in diagonal but the low resolution has taken its toll on the appearance of the user interface.
The keypad is utterly flat and the space between keys is too much, so in the end tactility suffers. The D-pad is quite large too, but the confirmation center is small, rigid and not sufficiently elevated - the overall result is far from user-friendly. The upper direction of the D-pad is a fixed shortcut to the radio.
Around the D-pad there are two context keys, two receiver keys, a correction C key and a Shortcut key (much like the Activity menu key in more sophisticated Sony Ericsson handsets).
On the right-hand side of the Sony Ericsson R306 Radio there are no controls whatsoever. But there's a reason for that - on that side there are a couple of small rubber knobs that allow the R306 to stand on your desk (or any other even surface for that matter).
On the left-hand side you can find the volume rocker, the dedicated radio key and the regular Sony Ericsson Fast port.
On the outside the Sony Ericsson R306 is covered in matt black plastic that doesn't catch fingerprints easily. The centerpiece on the front panel is the glossy film coating of the external display. Below it there are five shortcut keys - a couple of them are used to switch between stored radio stations and the other three are used for quick access to three custom selected favorite stations.
Removing the battery cover is easy enough - it comes off with a slide, unlike most recent Sony Ericsson handsets with their pry-to-open rear covers.
Underneath the R306 cover is the standard Sony Ericsson BST-38 Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 930 mAh. It's quoted at up to 410 hours of standby time and up to 9 hours of talk time.
Holding the R306 in hand definitely gives a lightweight and compact feel. The plastic panels are quite nice to touch. Unfortunately, when it comes to ergonomics and the simple task of opening the clamshell, the R306 loses some points. The R306 Radio is really hard to flip single-handedly - you have to use both of your hands every time.
The R306 display is nothing special really. It's a low-end TFT display capable of displaying 65K colors and it offers the rather low resolution of 128 x 160 pixels. We are so used to QVGA resolution now that everything below that feels… well, insufficient.
Other than that, the display contrast is not on par either but backlighting is ok. You're also not to expect anything fancy from it under direct sunlight - legibility certainly suffers.
Moving ahead to the backlighting of the keypad we've got to note it's a bit uneven but it's not that much of an issue.
The external display of Sony Ericsson R306 Radio is a kind of a mixed bag. Due to the high-gloss finish it's almost unusable in broad daylight - and we don't even mean direct sunlight here.
The secondary display shows info about the current station you've tuned to or, if the radio is not on, you can spot the clock and battery and signal status. And finally, the incoming call ID is also displayed here.