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Our love for the Walkman phone clan knows no bounds, but with toys like accelerometer motion sensors (the W910i) and 3.2MP cameras (the W880i) they don’t come cheap. But what if you want the pleasure of Sony Ericsson’s audio player for prepay pennies? Well, now you can audition the new entry-level member of its tribe – the very purple W380i.  

It may be cheap, but the W380i is far from a drab simpleton. Not only do you get the latest Walkman player, there are gesture controls on board that can kill a call or alarm at the swipe of your hand. Mmm, smells gimmicky.

Funky clamshell

Frippery aside, the W380i is a funky and compact clamshell with a slanting top, tailed design and dimpled front panelling. Its matt paint finish is highly tactile and there’s very little creak for a prepay handset.

Flip open the W380i – the action is sturdy and springy – and an unusually spacious thumb-doting keypad and standard issue 176x220 pixel resolution screen reveal themselves. The UI also doesn’t deviate from regular Sony Ericsson handsets, so it’s slick and simple to operate.

Walkman player rocks

Unsurprisingly, the W380i hasn’t been afforded the latest under-one-roof multimedia menu and third generation music player. But it’s still a feisty sounding music player and a cut above most handsets at this level. Extra touches like Mega Bass to top up the low-end quota, album art and playlist creation just add to its rep.

The Walkman player is controlled from the front via large Braille-esque touch-sensitive keys that emit a vibration, while a lock switch sits at the rear to stop any inadvertent key activation. Storage is handled by bundled 512MB card that can hoard around 125 good quality MP3s.

Sony Ericsson also hasn’t skimped on the music mods with its reliable TrackID music recognition software and support for Stereo Bluetooth both embedded. There’s also room for a capable FM radio with 20 station presets.

Empty gesture

Predictably, it really shouldn’t have bothered with gesture control. It’s a fickle feature, taking at least three or four waves of the hand before it stops an incoming call. We could definitely see this being handy for killing the early morning wake-up alarm but not if you have to repeatedly flail your arm.

The W380i’s camera abilities are a tad disappointing and the 1.3MP snapper, along with the absence of video recording skills, is pretty puny. It’s a case of point and shoot, although should you get adventurous you can tinker with limited white balance and effects or post snaps to your blog over languid EDGE speeds.

With its purple-livery, the W380i will catch the eye rather than the headlines. But if the belt is tight and you need a decent music phone at an attractive pre-pay price, then this Walkman clamshell is definitely worth a listen.


Stuff says... 

Sony Ericsson W380i review

Ideal if you want a sweet music set-up at a tidy pre-pay price. But it could have been even cheaper without the pointless gesture controls

Where to buy Sony Ericsson W380i: