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MWC 2009

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Sony Ericsson Memoir  

Feb 15, 2009, 7:13 PM   by Eric Zeman and Rich Brome
updated Feb 19, 2009, 5:00 AM

Our Mobile World Congress coverage, with hands-on reports from Barcelona on the HTC Magic with Android, Linux phones, Acer, and new phones from Samsung, Nokia and Sony Ericsson.

Sony Ericsson kicked off Mobile World Congress this year with a whimper. It only announced one fully-conceived phone, while teasing us with scant facts about another. Despite the lack of exciting announcements, there were a few other Sony Ericsson models on hand that we haven't had a chance to play with yet.

W995

The W995 is the latest and greatest Walkman phone from Sony Ericsson. I'd be lying if I said it was exciting. It may boast some impressive specs, but it is so similar to other Sony Ericsson phones, that it would be hard to tell them apart. Lack of interesting design features aside, the devices Sony Ericsson had on hand were solid and felt like production-quality phones.

 

W995

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The slider mechanism was strong and smooth, with no wobbly-ness at all. The control pad was the usual mess of buttons from Sony Ericsson. No less than six buttons flanked the D-pad, making the navigation area feel a bit cramped. The D-pad itself was easy to find and use. The dialpad felt very good. The number keys were well spaced and had excellent travel and feedback. The buttons on the side of the phone all felt good enough.

The software running the phone didn't look terribly different from what we've seen on other Sony Ericsson phones. The PS3-style media menu remains the same, and the camera software was quite good. The W995 has an accelerometer and reacted immediately to any changes in orientation of the phone.

It has a pop-out stand so the phone can be placed on a level surface and watched like a miniature TV. This is meant to make sharing content easier. It has a regular 3.5mm headset jack, supports Sony Ericsson's M2 memory format and has stereo external speakers.

In all, the W995 is certainly a solid phone and offers a decent spec list. It's too bad Sony Ericsson wrapped it in the same garb as so many of its other phones.



Idou

We didn't get to touch the Idou - it was behind glass - but we did take a close look at it. If Sony Ericsson can implement the software on it well enough, it should be a really exciting phone. The Idou will run a future version of Symbian, which has yet to be developed by the Symbian Foundation. SE loaded it with some sort of demonstration software that looked pretty slick, but there's no real indication that this represented the actual software that the phone will ship with. The operating system, however, will be fully touch-based.

 

Idou

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The Idou is a nicely-sized black slab of a phone with a cover over the camera and an array of buttons all over it. It is a little on the thick side for my tastes, but isn't terribly fat. Unfortunately, that's about all we can say at this point. Even so, we shot some video for you to look at.



C903

The C903 is an 8.1 megapixel camera phone that will have support for North American 3G networks. Like the W995, the Sony Ericsson family resemblance is very strong. The control pad felt especially crunched and the soft keys jutted out from the phone's face in a way that they may catch things in your pocket.

 

C903

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The display was brilliant and looked fantastic. The dialpad was nearly identical to that of the W995. In fact, it was so similar, I have to wonder if it is made from the same parts. It worked well.

The back of the phone has a hatch covering the camera lens and flash. Slide it down to reveal both, and launch the camera software. This hatch felt a little flimsy to me. It could be that the devices on-hand were well-worn, or it could be a bad design. Sony Ericsson wouldn't say if the phones we sampled were final builds or not.

The user interface was identical to that of the W995, with the same menus and icons and software. The camera software, in particular, was very responsive and fast. There was little to no delay when making adjustments to the camera's settings or functions, and the flash was insanely bright.

It will no doubt make photographers happy with its capable camera and solid photos-handling applications.



W395

This was the lowest-end device announced by Sony Ericsson this year, but it is no slacker. It has a 2 megapixel camera and the latest Walkman and music software from Sony Ericsson. Everything about it felt good. The buttons on the front face surrounding the D-pad were comfortable. The D-pad itself was a breeze to find and use. The keypad wasn't as good as the other two discussed above, but it was still decent. The slider mechanism felt strong and it was comfortable to hold.

 

W395

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The buttons on the sides were a bit harder to find and use that I would have liked, and I thought the user interface was a little sluggish. In all, though, it is a decent little phone.

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