Sony Ericsson W380i
It's not every day we get the chance to take a look at a pre-production mobile phone here at TweakTown, but this time we've managed to get you an exclusive preview of Sony Ericsson's upcoming W380i handset which is expected to launch in early March. This is a new handset in the Walkman line of handsets from the company, and in all fairness this is the most exciting feature of the handset. The reason for this is the three touch sensitive buttons on the front of the flip, as they look more like a part of the design rather than actual buttons.
There is a play/pause button, skip track/fast forward button and reverse button. When you touch them they light up with a nice blue glow. The handset also has a small front mounted LCD display which is text only, but when it's turned off you can't even see that it's there. It will display a wide range of information such as the current playing track, radio station frequency and incoming calls; while in standby it will also show the time, signal and battery status.
To prevent you from pressing the buttons on the front of the flip all the time, the handset has a small keylock button at the rear. This is rather unusual and at first we thought this was used for releasing the battery cover. The front of the flip is also home to the 1.3 Megapixel camera which indicates that this is a mid-range handset.
Open the flip and you're greeted by a fairly standard Sony Ericsson keypad for their flip phone models as well as a bright LCD display. The screen resolution is a mere 176x220 pixels, which feels a little bit outdated by today's standards, but considering that this is a rather basic handset we can't really complain too much.
The screen is at least capable of displaying 262k colours which is better than a lot of handsets in the expected price range. The W380i has a mere 14MB of user accessible memory, but this can be expanded via the Sony M2 memory card slot. We're not too keen on this memory format, as it's much more expensive than micro SD without bringing any advantages to the table. On the upside, the W380i will connect to your PC via a special USB cable and it'll be detected as a USB mass storage device, so you don't need any annoying software to load your music onto it.
We didn't have access to the USB cable or a M2 memory card during the short time we had with the handset for this preview, but we're fairly sure these features works as well as they do on other Sony Ericsson handsets. The W380i also has integrated Bluetooth and it supports A2DP Stereo headsets. The wired headset which comes with the phone uses the same side mounted Sony Ericsson connector as the charger and USB cable, so you can only use one of them at a time with the W380i which isn't so great. The headset also acts as FM radio antenna, as the W380i has a built-in FM radio with RDS where available.
On top of the flip next to the camera is also a small speaker through which you can play your music, but we hope you're not one of those that sit in the back of the bus and try to be cool by playing your poorly recorded MP3s through your phone speaker. It will allow you to use the W380i as a hands free speaker phone which can come in handy at times. There's a volume control on the right hand side and apart from the rear mounted keylock toggle, there are no other external buttons. There's also a small LED underneath the camera lens, but this can't be used as a photo light, as it is instead used to get your attention when you have an incoming call or when the alarm sounds.
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