The Sony Ericsson W890 exterior is dominated by straight lines and clean shapes. The minimalist design has crammed the keypad all the way down the front, but still the tiny alphanumeric buttons proved to be more comfortable than they look.
The 256K QVGA TFT display now has a 2" diagonal, as opposed to the 1.8" screen of W880. Grown it has, but we still couldn't help the what-if, imagining for a while that 2.2" could've been more like it. On a different note, the new display scores high in both brightness and contrast and it doesn't have reflection issues either.
Above the screen, a small secondary videocall camera is located, along with the earpiece. The golden Walkman logo completes the set.
Below the display are the navigation keys, which are grouped in three circular patterns. In the middle is the D-pad. The left semicircle hosts a soft key, the Call key and the Activity menu key, while the right features the other soft key, the End key and the correction C key.
Both the Call and End key are finished in golden and are tangibly elevated from their surroundings to improve accessibility and minimize wrong presses. The confirming center of the D-pad, doubled as the Walkman play/stop key, has the same golden color.
We were delighted to see the dedicated Call and End keys in Sony Ericsson K850 and the high-end Walkman W910. The three-soft-key layout is here as well. The dedicated call and End keys are the major difference from W880 in terms of control and navigation. They are available at the expense of the Back key and the Browser shortcut.
With the three-soft-key layout the three soft keys perform multiple functions varying by the context of different applications. The die-hard Sony Ericsson user will immediately notice that the location of the soft key functions is reversed.
In other Sony Ericsson phones the More soft key is located on the right, whereas now it is called Options and corresponds to the new left soft key, with small exceptions. The proprietary "Back" key is absent, now replaced by the right soft key. The center soft key performs variable functions within applications.
Bear in mind though that if you are an experienced Sony Ericsson fan and you encounter the three-soft-key layout for the first time, you will need to take your time and get used to it. The lack of the Back key will surely make your thumb twitching, but bear on, user-friendliness demand its victims.
The alphanumeric keypad is another serious change since W880. The ultra thin keys have been abandoned and typing is definitely improved. The middle-column keys are notched at the sides for better touch orientation. Though still quite small, the keys are quite comfortable and responsive.
The left side of the W890 hosts the dedicated Walkman key, which is yet another control finished in gold. The regular Fast port for connecting the charger, headset and the USB cable is at the bottom of this side. It does spoil the clean-cut lines and we would have liked it better if it had a cap on.
A tiny knob with a padlock pictogram right above the Walkman key could've almost gone unnoticed. This layout is symmetrically doubled on the opposite side, and both knobs are used for releasing/locking the battery cover.
The right side features the camera key and the volume rocker. It's also used for zooming when taking pictures and shooting video.
The top of the W890 body sports only a small On/Off key. The situation with the bottom part of the device is identical - it doesn't feature any controls or special design elements, save for the Walkman logo.
The back panel is made of plastic with a metallic paint finish. Topside at the rear are the 3.2 megapixel camera lens, the loudspeaker grill, along with the Sony Ericson and the Walkman logos.
The bottom part of the W890 back panel features the lanyard eyelet. An oblong patch of different color with the model name is another highlight on the battery cover.
|"...The Sony Ericsson W890 exterior is dominated by straight lines and clean shapes. The minimalist design has crammed the keypad all the way down the front, but still the tiny alphanumeric buttons proved to be more comfortable than they look..."|
Right beneath the Fast port there's an M2 logo, marking the memory card slot, which is accessible after releasing the rear cover.
We have seen a variety of mechanisms for removing the battery cover across a few dozens of Sony Ericson phones we've reviewed. W890 is yet another handset to feature a brand new lock/release mechanism.
This time, it is a couple of tiny knobs placed symmetrically on the sides of the phone. To release the lock both knobs need to be slid up. This solution reminds a bit the Sony Ericsson K550.
Removing the battery cover unveils the standard Sony Ericsson BST-33 Li-Poly battery with a capacity of 950 mAh. The same battery is used in Sony Ericsson W880 and W850.
According to the manufacturer, the battery should last up to 360 hours of standby mode and up to 9.5 hours of talk time when used in a GSM-only network.
The more exciting promise though is that the battery would allow W890 to play music continuously for 20 hours straight, two hours more than the official quote for W880.
The memory card slot is located under the battery cover and the SIM bed is right under the battery compartment. The SIM card is relatively easy to insert and remove. Actually, the SIM slot layout is identical to W880.
We are very pleased with the construction and friendly feel of the Sony Ericsson W890, though it was expected given the nice first impression W880 made.
We have no particular concerns with the display and keyboard backlighting - both are at the usual high level we've come to see with the latest Sony Ericsson phones. The keyboard itself has strong backlighting but, surprisingly for a Walkman phone, misses the traditional orange D-pad backlighting in Walkman mode. However, we are uncertain whether this will be the case with the final version of W890, as we're dealing with a beta unit issue.