Sony Ericsson W995 review: Ready, set, play

GSMArena team, 06 March 2009.

Sony Ericsson W995 360-degree spin

The Sony Ericsson W995 measures 97 x 49 x 15 mm which, considering the large screen, is quite an achievement. The slider is compact enough to fit in any pocket or purse and weighs 113 g.

The friendly size and weight are best appreciated in comparison with the other 8 megapixel cameraphone in the Sony Ericsson portfolio. Our new Walkman here is more than 20 g lighter and has lost a few millimeters of the C905 height and girth.

Design and construction

The Sony Ericsson W995 comes in three colors - Progressive Black, Cosmic Silver and Energetic Red. All of them look quite nice, and the red one is particularly eye-catching. Even if the W995 shares the same form factor with the 8 megapixel Sony Ericsson C905, small details like the kickstand at the back and the music controls on the side give the top Walkman quite a distinct look and feel…and a look and feel that leaves a very positive impression.

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Sony Ericsson W995

The brushed metal front and back give it a sophisticated look but we're not particularly fond of the round D-pad and semicircular buttons under the screen. The C905 navigation pad is definitely more stylish.

Did we mention screen size? We guess we did, but the W995 is worth all the fuss for having the biggest display among feature phones in the Sony Ericsson portfolio. The ample 2.6-incher delivers sharp and vivid images at QVGA resolution that are easy to see not only in the dark, but also under direct sunlight.

The phone has a built-in accelerometer for auto-rotation of the screen. This works really smooth and can be very useful when browsing the internet or viewing multimedia files.

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The display is large and delivers sharp and vivid images

Above the screen is the centrally placed earpiece, flanked by an ambient light sensor and the secondary video-call camera.

Sony Ericsson W995
Ambient light sensor, earpiece and secondary video-call camera above the screen

The keys under the screen may fail on looks but are actually quite comfy and even the tiny semicircular knobs are spaced out well enough that they won't be a problem if your fingers are on the large side.

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D-pad and controls under the screen are quite user-friendly

The keypad is revealed by sliding the Sony Ericsson W995 open. We generally found it comfortable to use although it is somewhat lacking in terms of press feedback. You won't guess by the looks of it, but the alphanumeric keys have such a short stroke they're easily outclassed by even the flatbed keypad of the C905.

On a different note, the keys are well sized with sufficient spacing between each, making it easy to type without looking at the keypad.

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Keypad is easy to use even if it suffers from low press feedback

The Walkman key on the Sony Ericsson W995 is on the left side and grants access to the Walkman player and is used for Shake control. Like the keypad, it does suffer a little in terms of press feedback.

On the left-hand side is also the Fast Port connector and the "M2" symbol, which indicates the location of the card slot. Even if it's under the battery cover, it is hot-swappable. The phone ships with an 8GB M2 card.

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Walkman key, Fast Port connector and memory card slot are on the left-hand side

The right side of the device is overcrowded. You've got the camera button, which activates the camera and serves as a shutter key as well, the volume rocker and the dedicated music controls.

The volume keys are too small and uncomfortable but the player controls are just fine. The latter allow quick control of the Walkman player without even having to open the application itself.

Pressing and holding the Play/Stop button will launch the music player in mini mode and music will resume where you last left off.

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The right side is overcrowded • Camera key, volume rocker and music controls

The dedicated Walkman player controls glow in the dark when the Walkman player is on. The backlighting has a very pleasant red color, as opposed to the solid white illumination of the keypad and controls. The shutter key also has its own white backlighting.

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Music controls glow in the dark when the Walkman player is on

The Sony Ericsson W995 is equipped with a set of stereo speakers, placed at the top and bottom of the handset. This layout seems the right approach in a phone that's pitched for video and sports that kickstand on the back. But it's not the stereo speakers and not even the kickstand that make the W995 the first among its kind. On the top there is something you won't see on any other Walkman phone - a built-in 3.5 mm audio jack. Hallelujah!!

Though we never minded using an easy-to-find 3.5mm adapter with Sony Ericsson phones, the majority of Walkman users believed they deserve that dedicated port on board.

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Stereo speakers on top and bottom • 3.5 mm audio jack

The 8.1-megapixel autofocus camera lens is placed at the back. The W995 sports a LED flash for night-time shooting, but there's no camera lens protection.

What steals the spotlight at the rear though is the controversial kickstand. The idea itself is warmly welcomed, especially considering the great screen. However, the kickstand is far from perfect. It doesn't lock into position firmly enough to bear the weight of the phone and any vibrations on the surface it's placed on could topple the device over.

We really hope its design will be further polished before the handset gets to the mass market.

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8.1-megaixel autofocus camera, LED-flash, kickstand • Kickstand could've been more stable

The battery cover is made out of metal and has a really nice brushed surface. The cover fits tightly to the back of the body. To remove it, you first need to unfold the kickstand and then gently slide the latch outwards.

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the battery cover is easily removed when needed

Once the Sony Ericsson W995 battery cover is removed, you will find the 930 mAh BST-38 Li-Po battery underneath. It is quoted at 9 hours of talk time and 370 hours of stand-by time, which is basically the same as the Sony Ericsson W902.

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The BST-38 Li-Po battery delivers very good performance

The build quality of the Sony Ericsson W995 is great. The handset is well-made and there are no alarming creaks to question its solid construction. The friendly size and weight are a great asset, and the brushed metal finish is the right kind of styling for a high-end all-rounder. Usability and ergonomic issues were noted but we feel they are altogether minor points against this stylish and solid gadget.

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The Sony Ericsson W995 feels great in hand • Solid and stylish, the phone has no construction flaws

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