With the latest Walkman phones packing 8GB of storage and impressive sonic pedigree, the line between MP3 players and music phones is blurring. And not just in terms of features – the new W350i even looks like a dedicated music device.
As a lower division Walkman handset, the W350i is designed for music snackers. With an almost W890i-esque slimline and lightweight torso, it’ll have little impact on the pocket, while its soft paint finish is incredibly tactile but durable enough to survive the vagaries of on-the-fly living.
Ye olde looks
With music controls dominating the front, the W350i looks every inch the MP3 player and it’s not until you flick open the façade that its secret life as a phone is exposed. Sony Ericsson has plundered its distant Scandinavian past, circa 1999, for this flip design, clearly filching the idea from ye olde classics like the Ericsson T10 and T28. This action may be snappy but it feels pretty flimsy and definitely errs on the wrong side of retro.
Disappointingly, the W350i hasn’t been afforded the latest third generation Walkman player, but the version 2.0 is still nifty enough. A dedicated side Walkman button returns you to your menu options when in music mode, while you get the Mega Bass toting equalizer to spice up your tunes.
Naturally, its audio performance is in the usual Walkman class, delivering a warm fidelity through the supplied earphones. Unlike its rival, the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic, there’s still no space for integrated 3.5mm headphone socket, so you will have to make so with an adapter and a tangle of wires.
Severe storage issues
The W350i comes supplied with a 512MB Memory Stick Micro but its recommended maximum card dosage is 2GB, which stores around 500 good quality MP3s. Higher capacity cards will slow down the player’s performance, so you can see the W350i is geared for music nibblers rather than the avid record collector.
To make up for this storage shortfall, Sony Ericsson has thrown in some neat mobile treats including TrackID recognition software and an FM radio, although the rather unremarkable 1.3MP snapper and languid EDGE download speeds brings you back down with to prepay earth with a bump.
Considering the similarly priced and slimmer Nokia 5310 packs a superior, video capturing 2MP snapper and higher memory card support, the W350i starts to look a tad tame. Its Walkman sonics and MP3 player looks may not be enough to persuade mobile music fans on a budget to take a gamble.