Reviewer: Nathan Taylor
A member of the Walkman series of phones, the Sony Ericsson 880i is for those who like their phones rich in multimedia but small in size. The phone is very thin, very light and very small.
The phone is targeted at users who want their phones to also act as a full-featured MP3 player similar to an iPod. Yet, for all its focus on music, the W880i is remarkably good at the other functions of a modern mobile as well. It supports extensive messaging options, including push and regular email, and has excellent call management capabilities. It comes with a number of useful tools, including a web browser, calculator, contact management and organisational applications as well as several addictive games (and you can, of course, install more using Java). It supports Bluetooth and has a more than decent camera.
If Sony’s official battery life figures are to be believed, it also has an extraordinarily long battery life. It comes with a 1GB Memory Stick Micro card, which is enough for about 200 MP3 tracks.
While having a small, funky phone is nice, we tend to think that being able to use the buttons on the phone is kind of necessary (we’re funny that way). Unfortunately, the buttons on the W880i are so tiny that it’s difficult to do anything on the phone with any fluency. It requires the most delicate of touches, and we constantly found ourselves fighting with the phone to get it to do what we wanted.
It’s a shame, because the phone has a lot going for it. It doesn’t over-complicate anything, and we managed to intuitively access all of the phone’s features. The audio quality during phone calls was excellent during our testing (although the volume could be higher), and the quick buttons for music, web browsing and camera made performing common tasks simple.
The camera takes good photos, though the lack of autofocus and flash hurts, and we were particularly impressed with some of the touch-up tools built into the phone, like light levelling and red-eye removal.
As you’d expect with a Walkman phone, the music playback is quite decent, though occasionally a little tinny. The phone is supplied with quality earbuds (as opposed to the usual junk you get with mobiles), but these are annoyingly proprietary and you can’t just attach your own headset to the W880i (though you could use Bluetooth headphones). It doesn’t have much internal memory, but you can expand its memory with Memory Stick Micro cards. Memory Stick Micro is a little harder to find than miniSD, but the prices are comparable.
If it weren’t for the tiny buttons on the W880i, we’d be huge fans of this phone. It’s small, stylish and the software is just about right. It plays music well, takes good pictures and manages messaging very well. The quality of the display is fair and the supplied proprietary PC software is easy enough to control.