CES 2007 + iPhone
Sony Ericsson had two new phones to show off at CES this year. Both are basic tri-band GSM phones (with the 850 band). Although both models are entry-level, each one has a couple of features that one might not expect on a basic phone.
The W200 Sony Ericsson's newest and most affordable addition to its Walkman lineup. The highlight is the music player - which can play in the background - and an M2 (Memory Stick Micro) memory card slot for storing up to 1 GB of music. EDGE and an FM radio round out the notable features.
The W200 is about the same size as the W810, but tapered on the sides so it feels smaller. The W200 is also extremely light. Just like the W810, both black and white colors are planned.
The phone feels good to hold and seems well-built. The joystick and two soft keys would be more comfortable to use if they were raised a little more, although we didn't have trouble manipulating them.
The W200 has an STN display and a VGA camera. The camera function unfortunately lacks any kind of quick-access key; you need to dig through menus to snap a photo.
The Z310a is the other new model here at CES. It's just like the Z310i for Europe and Asia, but with GSM 850 for U.S. networks. It's a fairly standard basic clamshell phone.
The emphasis with the Z310 is on style. Like the W200, it should come in more than one color. A mirrored finish on the front cover hides the external display, although sometimes a little too well. Pressing a side key will light up the external display to check the time. It appears very dim and somewhat hard to read. We could read it in normal indoor light, but those with imperfect vision might not fare so well.
Fortunately the dim outer display is augmented with some very bright lights dedicated to important status icons like voicemail, missed call, and charging.
Opening up the Z310, there is a standard-size STN display just like the W200's, and an attractive keypad. The navigation keys are great, but the number pad and side keys could be better.
Overall, the Z310 looks and feels great. The build quality is excellent for an entry-level clamshell.
The Z310 has a few features you wouldn't expect on an entry-level phone. EDGE, Bluetooth and speakerphone are nice, but it's the full HTML browser and RSS reader that are the most pleasant surprises.
We were glad to see that the Z310 abandons the unfortunate user interface on its predecessor, the Z300, instead offering a standard user-friendly Sony Ericsson interface with two soft keys. The W200 has the same interface and display.
The Z310 also has customizable color-changing animated lights around the keypad like the Z520 and Z525.
The W200 should be out later this quarter (by the end of March at the latest,) with the Z310a following one or two months after that.
Sony Ericsson's main carrier partner in the U.S. these days is Cingular, so that would be a good guess as to who will offer both phones.
Sony Ericsson is working hard on getting some phones back into T-Mobile's lineup by the end of the year. The current hangup is T-Mobile's custom software requirements like MyFaves.
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