Sony Ericsson W950 review: Let the music play

GSMArena team, 16 October 2006.

The Sony Ericsson W950 is an exciting new addition to the Walkman series of Sony Ericsson. It is a smartphone based on the Symbian 9.1 UIQ 3.0 with a stylish and yet classical design. Although it doesn’t feature a camera, the 4GB of free space and the dedicated multimedia keys would make any music lover jump from joy. The large touchscreen TFT display with QVGA resolution is just another fascinating feature for the tech buffs. It seems that the W950 has got what it takes to overtake the high-end music phones market and it is our job to see how it performs in every possible aspect.

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Sony Ericsson W950 official pictures

Main advantages:

  • 4GB of storage space
  • Walkman MP3 player and stereo FM radio with RDS
  • Dedicated multimedia keys
  • 3G support
  • Symbian 9.1 OS with the UIQ 3.0 user interface
  • Touchscreen with QVGA resolution
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP profile, Infrared port and USB 2.0 support
  • Comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack adapter

Main disadvantages:

  • No camera
  • No Wi-Fi
  • No memory card slot
  • No EDGE support
  • Uncomfortable keypad

The Sony Ericsson W950 seems like the utmost music phone in its pure form. The whopping 4GB of internal memory are enough to store all the tracks you love to listen to. The addition of dedicated music keys that come alive when you start the player is just great. Moreover, all this comes in a rather compact body.

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Sony Ericsson W950

Although the 4GB of storage memory might make you think of Nokia N91, in fact the Nokia handset has more to offer such as a 2 megapixel camera and Wi-Fi. Nevertheless, N91 is much bigger and weighs a hefty 50 g more. Therefore, there is no room for comparison between the two and we would not make such attempt in our review.

The Sony Ericsson W950 retail package includes a USB cable and a Walkman stereo headset with a remote control. Of course, as with any other mobile phone, the contents of the retail package remain strictly market and country dependant.

The stereo headset that comes in the package in fact is standard one with a 3.5 mm jack. The remote control itself, also bearing the stylish Walkman logo, is an adapter so you may even opt for using your regular 3.5 mm headphones with W950.

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W950 retail package stereo headset

The W950 boasts a solid construction and a stylishly designed body made out of matt plastic along with silver lining and orange highlights. Thanks to those, the orange Walkman theme has been kept all over the handset, while keeping successfully away from the flamboyant styling of some of the previous Walkman phones.

Measuring at 106 x 54 x 15 mm, the W950 could be hardly called a compact phone, but as far as smartphones go, it is in fact pretty slim. The probable reason for that is the absence of a camera. When it comes to width though, our friend has lot more to show. But width is essential in order to be able to use comfortably the Jog Dial single-handedly. And you may agree, that is of great importance since besides the stylus, it is the only way to navigate through the interface.

Similar to Sony Ericsson P990, the Jog Dial can no longer be used in five directions as in Sony Ericsson P910. Now the only available directions are scroll up, scroll down and press. We think that the 5-way Jog Dial was a great navigation tool and stripping it of two of its functions would most surely disappoint many people that are already used to it.

Now, beside the Jog Dial, the left side of the body features only a Back button used for exiting the current menu. The left side is also the one from where you can pull out the stylus, which plugs in into a special slot in the phone’s body.

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W950 left side: Jog Dial, Back button and stylus visible

The right side of the phone features only a dual volume key and a dedicated stop/play key for the music player.

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W950 right side: volume and stop/play buttons visible

The upper part of the body incorporates the on/off key and the Infrared port while the bottom end features the Fast Port used for charging and for plugging in the headset.

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W950 top and bottom part: Infrared port and Fast port visible

The back part of the handset is rather bare in fact. The only visible elements are the loudspeaker grill in orange, the Sony Ericsson logo and the cap on the external antenna jack.

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W950 back view

Removing the back cover reveals the standard Sony Ericsson BST-33 Lithium-Polymer battery with a capacity of 900 mAh. According to the manufacturer, it should last up to 2.5 hours of talk time in UMTS networks and up to 7.5 hours in regular GSM networks. The expected standby time varies from up to 250 hours in UMTS networks to up to 340 hours in GSM ones. The battery should also be enough for up to 10 hours of listening to music. Unfortunately, we couldn’t test the phone’s battery life since we used the phone heavily during our tests and thus the battery life we experienced was not indicative for the real-life performance of the handset.

The SIM card slot is in the upper part. You simply plug it in and when you have to take it out, you should pull out the metal tray protruding from the slot.

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Battery cover removed

Now the front panel would probably arouse much more interest. Most of it is taken by the 2.6” touchscreen display. Above it is the in-call speaker grill again with an orange highlight. Below the display, there is the Walkman logo and the keypad.

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W950 front