13 September 2009
Sony Ericsson W995
Armed with an 8.1-megapixel camera, the Sony Ericsson W995 is the second phone from Sony Ericsson that bridges the gap between its Walkman and Cyber-shot portfolios.
Sony Ericsson is finally melding its Walkman and Cyber-shot lines into feature-packed phones.
The first was the W902 and the W995 is its second effort. The W995 manages to fulfil nearly all the requirements of a high-end user as we will find out.
The W995 is a compact slider phone. The sliding mechanism is smooth, solid and feels durable.
The face of the phone is mostly dominated by a 2.6in inch screen and a few handy buttons. These buttons allow you to navigate most of the functions of the phone without having to use the keypad.
Sliding open the phone reveals the keypad which is quite comfortable to use as it has good tactile feedback. You will use it mostly for dialling numbers and composing messages.
The face and battery cover are made with brushed metal while the other parts are made of high quality plastic to give the W995 a strong but lightweight feel and slim shape.
The 2.6in screen is considered large for a phone of this size. It is extremely clear and stays that way even when outdoors. It does lose a bit of contrast under direct sunlight on a cloudless day though.
Aesthetically, the phone has a macho, sophisticated, high tech look. It also looks beautiful when the phone lights up in the dark.
This phone is really easy to use as it has a lot of shortcuts for applications. Plus, you can even configure your own shortcuts so you do not have to enter the main menu to drill down to your applications.
Dialling contacts through the address book or keying in numbers is easy. And when you dial a number, the phone will look up names in your address book that have the corresponding number. You can then select a name instead of dialling the whole number.
The W995 supports SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging. You can view SMS and MMS messages as a list or conversations.
The phone can handle e-mail attachments but there isn’t a document viewer on the phone, so you can’t view Word, Excel or PDF files.
The media centre menu is much like a mini XMB (CrossMediaBar) interface found on the PlayStation3.
You can use it to access your music, photos, videos, RSS feeds, podcasts and even games. We found it intuitive and easy to use.
You can activate the Walkman 4.0 player by just pressing a button. The volume control is on the right of the phone but the buttons were a bit hard to press as they were too tiny.
There are also rewind, play/pause and forward buttons beside the volume control. Holding down the Walkman button and shaking the phone activates the ShakeControl for adjusting the volume and changing tracks.
The SensMe feature works with MP3s that are tagged and analysed by the Media Go application on a computer and then loaded back into the phone.
The tagged MP3s fall into four quadrants of moods — sad, happy, fast and slow — so you can select songs based on mood rather than thumbing through a playlist.
Being a Walkman phone, the W995 delivers superior sound quality. It has stereo speakers at the top and bottom of the phone, a 3.5mm jack for your headphones and is bundled with premium in-ear earphones.
Other features include a graphic equaliser with presets or you can even configure your own setting.
This phone is definitely strong on bass so I had to turn it down a bit with the help of the equaliser.
Those who like heavy bass however will enjoy the sound. No distortions whatsoever were heard during testing.
The quality of the photos are as good as those of a camera though there is a bit more noise in low-light conditions.
This is understandable given the fact that the 8-megapixel sensor is made much smaller to fit into the phone.
An LED flash provides adequate lighting. The Cyber-shot shooting modes and settings also allow you to take photos in diverse conditions.
The built-in image stabiliser works well in properly lighted conditions but your hands have to be more steady to get the best shots. Also, the colours of the photos turned out wonderful.
Videos are captured in WQVGA resolution at 30fps in MP4 format. The videos turned out clear, and the audio was crisp and loud.
As the phone has a kickstand and stereo speakers positioned on the top and bottom of the phone, you can comfortably watch videos with stereo sound.
Supported video formats are MPEG4 and 3GP. However for a phone with all the necessary hardware that is touted as a great video playback phone, there is no support for more advanced codecs such as DivX which is a bit of a letdown.
Also, the W995 comes with 118MB of internal memory and an 8GB M2 card so there should be ample space to store all your media.
The W995 comes with the usual assortment of notes, alarm, calendar and reminder functions to keep track of your appointments and meetings.
But that’s as far as productivity applications go for the W995. It would’ve been cool to have document viewers or editors installed to do some work on it.
There are several games on the phone ranging from puzzles to racing and action games. There is even a game that asks you questions based on the songs on your phone.
Fitness fans would be happy to know there is a WalkMate step counter application. It can be set as your wallpaper so you can check how many steps you’ve done for the day.
The Light application which uses the LED flash as a torchlight is quite useful.
The most interesting thing about it is that it can be set to blink out an SOS signal. Great for those “I’m stuck on a desert island with a coconut tree” situations.
The W995 has a aGPS that works with Google Maps and other navigation applications that can give you voice directions as well as location services.
The aGPS also allows you to geotag the photos that you snap.
In terms of battery life, if you use the phone for calls and SMS, watching videos, listening to music, snapping pictures and moderate surfing, it will last about three days on a full charge.
You can charge it using the supplied charger or through a USB port but the phone uses a proprietary connector.
I loved the Sony Ericsson W995 — it looks stylish, is easy to use, the screen is lovely and it has good speakers.
Plus, the camera could even replace a basic point-and-shoot camera.
All in all, the W995 performed well and I felt a little pang when I had to part with it. That’s when you know it’s a good product.
Pros: Easy to use; large, bright screen; excellent camera; good sound quality; 3.5mm audio jack; stylish phone.
Cons: No DivX codec support.
Camera: 8.1 megapixels with autofocus and LED flash
Display: 2.6in screen (240 x 320 pixels), 256,000 colours
Messaging: SMS, MMS, e-mail
Connectivity: GSM 850/ 900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100, Bluetooth, USB, WiFi
Expansion slot: M2 (up to 8 GB)
Phone memory: 118MB internal memory, bundled with 8GB M2 card
Battery Type: 930mAh lithium polymer
Standby/talk time: 360 hours/4 hours
Other features: aGPS, kickstand
Dimensions (W x D x H): 49 x 15 x 97mm
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