The keypad itself is rather innovative both in technology and in design; at least as much as the mobile phones’ world is concerned. The keys are level but have a good reaction to pressing – in general, the feedback is sure and positive. Each key has a small protruding dot that would help you work with the keypad without looking at it.
An interesting solution in W950 is that there are no conventional navigation keys. Navigating trough the menu options is carried out either with the help of the stylus or with the side Jog-Dial and Back button. The keypad also lacks the standard keys for receiving or ending calls – for that purpose you would again have to use either the Jog Dial or the touchscreen. A nice thing about the touchscreen is that you can use it for the basic functions without taking out the stylus – a simple press with your thumb would do since the most important on-screen keys are made large enough.
Beside the regular alphanumeric keys, there is also a dedicated Music player key on the left marked with the Walkman logo and a correction C on the right. The alphanumeric keys have a white backlighting while the Walkman key and the C key have an orange one.
When you turn on the Music player a new row of keys lights up – those are the three dedicated multimedia keys REW, STOP/PLAY, and FFW.
The keypad is ok when typing slowly and you take your time to make sure that you press each key strong enough, but when it comes to writing regular messages at regular speed it can easily turn your life into hell. The innovative design of the keys in fact provides for their highly inconvenient use. You are almost sure to make writing mistakes all the time unless you take your time and write very carefully.
The smartphone, however, is really comfortable for everyday use and feels great when held in hand. The added millimeters in width in fact provide for a very good grip and the weight of 112 g feels just fine. Besides the nagging writing problem, we might say that it’s one of the most comfortable smartphones to use and carry with you.
The touchscreen display of Sony Ericsson W950 is pretty large with a diagonal of 2.6”. It supports 262K colors and works in QVGA (240 x 320 pixels) resolution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do so well under direct sun light.
As anyone could expect, W950 offers nice signal reception strength and we found no problems during calls. The vibration is on a medium level, while the ringing volume is more than enough to alert you of incoming calls even in a noisy street.
The phone’s interface is UIQ 3.0, which is a customizable stylus-based user interface for media-rich mobile phones that is based on the Symbian OS 9.1 OS. Besides regular clock, date, signal strength and battery meter, the standby mode offers the user a Today screen and a customizable shortcuts bar. The Today screen shows current Calendar events, message and email inbox, missed calls, general notes, etc. It is directly accessible by pressing the Jog-Dial. By default the shortcuts bar allows access to the Calendar, the phonebook, the web browser, the message inbox and the main menu. The shortcut items can be selected with the stylus as well as with your finger since the graphic icons are large enough for the purpose.
In standby, there are also two pop-up menus. The first one can be invoked by the More softkey and the second one can be opened by pressing with the stylus the triangle in the upper left corner. The first one offers the option to turn on a connectivity feature, change the volume, view the smartphone’s status, and allows access to a call management option for filtering incoming calls. The other one gives you access to the most important items or actions you may need or like to do – for example, turn on connectivity options such as Bluetooth or Infrared, make a new call, add a new contact or put down some appointments and notes. Furthermore, it gives you access to the dual time zone clock and allows you to control the volume level for different events centrally. We are very pleased with this menu since it allows quick access to the most important functions of any smartphone.
A nice thing is that the smartphone has a dedicated Flight mode, which can be turned on seamlessly without even restarting the phone. Even if you have to turn it off for some reason, there is an option that the phone asks you whether you want to start it directly into Flight mode.
The main menu of the Sony Ericsson W950 allows you two different views such as icons grid or list view.
The smartphone interface can be customized through various graphic themes. We find the default orange Walkman theme very pleasing to the eye but still there are other graphic themes that may freshen up the things for you when you get fed up with it. Several of them come preinstalled while many more should be available online once the phone becomes publicly available.