The phonebook interface is simple and easy to use. As always, the phonebook asks you whether you would like to copy your contacts from the SIM card to the phone's memory. However you can choose if the SIM contacts or the phone contacts should be the default for the phonebook. Both lists cannot be displayed simultaneously. Otherwise, a nice option is that you can make the phone to autosave to the SIM card any new contacts that you save in the phone's memory. You can also have the phone back up your phone numbers on the inserted memory card.
The maximum capacity of the phonebook is 1000 contacts but you can save up to 2500 phone numbers. Contacts can be ordered by First or Last name. Contacts are searched by gradual typing of the desired name.
When adding a new contact, there are five possibilities for the phone number: Mobile, Home, Work, Fax and Other. This is the first tab of fields for the new contacts. The second one is for email and web addresses. The third is for assigning a picture and a custom ringtone. The fourth goes for Title, Company, Street, City, State, ZIP, Country information. The last, fifth tab, is for additional information and birth date. When you add the birth date, the phone asks you whether you would like to add it to the calendar and put a reminder for it. That's a good feature and we like it that we see it available more and more often in current phones. While you browse your phonebook list, switching between different phone numbers and emails for a given contact is possible by pushing the side ways of the joystick.
The Calls log is divided in four different tabs. They are: All, Answered (Received), Dialed and Missed. The tabs altogether contain up to 30 call records, which are shared between the separate tabs.
All messages, except emails, use one Inbox. No matter what kind of message has been received, it goes to the common Inbox. Only email messages have their own separate Inbox. There is a My Friends feature, which works like an instant messaging application and can be used if your network operator supports it. The phone also offers a RSS feeds reader that in fact uses the NetFront web browser.
When you start typing a message, you must first choose from the three variants: Text message, Picture message, Voice message or Email. There is no point in that as you can easily transform a SMS into a MMS along the way by simply attaching multimedia objects to the message. The editor shows up to 5 lines en bloc. There is a character counter, which activates when you reach 20 characters before the 160 limit. When you pass the limit a "2 SMS" warning sign comes up for a second to alert you that the message will be divided in two parts. Of course, there is the T9 dictionary to assist the typing.
The email client supports POP3 and IMAP protocols. It can also manage several accounts simultaneously. You can choose between downloading only headers or headers and text. The phone can automatically check for new emails at a preset interval.
Sony Ericsson W880 supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, E-AAC+, WAV, WMA, M4A and MIDI file formats. The Walkman media player is version 2.0 and features improved interface. We have seen the 2.0 version already in our Sony Ericsson W850 review and we are more than pleased with it. It has several equalizer presets including the proprietary Mega Bass. The player can be set to run in background so you can do other things with the phone while listening to music. When in background mode, there is an indication of the name of the song and artist of the track currently playing in the top part of the screen. The control of the player is intuitive and really easy to use. It even displays the album cover during playback if there is one.
We are really pleased with the improved user interface. The sound is nice, too. The only negative side that the W880 has is the performance of the external loudspeaker when it comes to listening to music. It produces only the high and mid tones and there is not even a trace of the lower ones. What is more the sound is a bit hollow and metallic. But that is an inevitable consequence of the ultra slim shell which can only house a really small loudspeaker. Furthermore, there is a certain crack sound when playing music at the highest volume level. The Sony Ericsson W850 loudspeaker performs way better when it comes to loudness, and when it comes to great sound our all time favorite is the Sony Ericsson W950, but then again it doesn't play music as loud as W850.
The video player of W880 is nice and offers the option to watch videos in landscape mode - in the original video size or in fullscreen mode.
The Sony Ericsson W880 also features the TrackID service which appears as a separate item in the Main Menu. The TrackID application records several seconds from the song you are listening to on let say your home stereo, connects to the Gracenote servers and should hopefully identify it for you. So if you happen to hear a great song on the radio you can always get the name and artist and even buy it directly online.