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Hands on with Sony's first Walkman smartphone

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3GSM It's in the collegiate spirit of the GSM show that manufacturers can glad hand their rivals on each other's stands without resort to subterfuge.

In a show bereft of show-stoppers, Sony Ericsson's new 'Walkman' phone drew plenty of interest from other handset manufacturers, with the company's stand crowded to near sinking point.

While PalmOS kernel chief (and former BeOS kernel chief) Cyril Meurillon checked out the Sony Ericsson's P990, we spotted Motorola and Palm staff giving the 950 the once over.

And the verdict from the visitors we spoke to was fairly positive. Sony Ericsson claims to have sold three million Walkman-branded phones, but this is the most ambitious yet: the company's first Walkman smartphone (as opposed to a feature phone), and the first in the range that's really designed from the ground-up around music.

The W950 is essentially the same phone as the M600 that Sony Ericsson announced a couple of weeks ago. It's styled along the lines of what we'll call a flattened tube, similar to the company's V600i 3G handset.

It's light and responsive, with a nice matte texture, and while it's a general purpose Symbian phone that runs third party applications, it's very much geared around music, as you'd expect.

Instead of the M600's faux, two-letters-per-key QWERTY keyboard, there's a conventional dialpad, but this is recessed under a perfectly smooth surface. Fear not, however, there are real buttons underneath, so pressing a key gives you a little travel. Both phones are designed for one-handed use - but both have pen input too, using Symbian's UIQ 3.0 user interface.

Sony Ericsson Walkman W950 Music Smartphone

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