The new Sony Ericsson W890i Walkman phone has some big ‘ole shoes to fill. Its predecessor, the W880i, not only mainlined the Walkman clan with a hefty dose of desirability, it was the only phone to nab an exalted place on Stuff’s 2007 Cool List.
The W890i maintains its predecessor’s devilishly gossamer frame but adds some new multimedia muscle. It riffs to 3.6Mbps-flavoured HSDPA download speeds, flaunts a 3.2megapixel snapper and rocks using the latest Walkman player.
It’s also been given a subtle cosmetic makeover. The W880i’s angled corners have been softened, but the most notable revamp is the keypad. The previous ‘tiny tab’ arrangement caused much consternation among the fat-fingered but, although it appears cramped, the new layout is more traditional and much easier to thumb.
The W890i is fitted with Sony Ericsson’s third generation Walkman music player and sports the intuitive multimedia menu first seen on the excellent W910i. Its audio performance, especially when topped-up with Mega Bass, is still dynamic, while the new look Media Manager software now marshals all of your multimedia clobber along with your music and CD-ripping.
The bundled in-ear phones are decent enough but Sony Ericsson still relies on adapters to hook up your quality 3.5mm headphones. It may only be 10mm thin but if its nearest rival and equally slim Nokia 5310 XpressMusic can handle this connection, then why not the W890i?
All of the Walkman music mods – TrackID music recognition software, quirky SenseMe mood playlist creation, support for Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP) and built-in FM radio – are present and correct, while a 2GB Memory Stick Micro is generously bundled to accommodate around 500 average sized MP3 tracks. It can handle up to 8GB cards if you want to go from ABBA to Zappa.
Sadly, Sony Ericsson’s Cyber-shot pedigree hasn’t trickled down to the W890i – its 3.2MP snapper is bereft of autofocus, macro focus for close-ups and any kind of flash. Maintaining its size zero physique is probably the reason for the autofocus no-show but it still takes basic bright and colourful snaps, despite the lack of detail and sharpness. Video is shot in a respectable QVGA-quality at 30fps.
The improvement on the W880i is clear for all to see. Sure, the W890i may not sport the shake controls and accelerometer sensors of the W910i, but if you like your music phones deliciously slim and feather light, you won’t care one jot.