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Sony Ericsson Walkman W380i budget music phone

Less iPhone killer, more Shuffle worrier

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The menu system is conventional Sony Ericsson, with a grid of icons and subsequent sub-menu lists and tabs to work through. It’s easy to follow and intuitive.

Gimmicks aside, the main reason you'd choose any Walkman mobile is the promise of its music player. Although the W380i is a budget handset, you still get a set of above-average earphones and a 512MB Memory Stick Micro (M2) card bundled. The card slips into a hot-swappable slot under the back cover.

Sony Ericsson W380i mobile phone

The menu is conventional Sony Ericsson: easy to follow and intuitive

The Walkman player user interface is simple to use but attractive, using a well-structured, icon-aided system. Categories are limited to artists, albums, tracks and playlists, but it does support album cover art, and you can tweak equaliser settings and add Sony’s trademark Mega Bass to boost a bit of bottom, if that’s your thing. Copying tracks over from a PC is straightforward whether you use Sony Ericsson's software or drag and drop tracks over to the M2 when the phone's in file transfer mode.

Audio performance is highly impressive and excellent for a music mobile at this price. You get a well-rounded sound with subtlety and not a little punch too that is very pleasing. There’s an FM radio inside too, which you can use the external music buttons and controls to operate. You can add your own higher quality headphones, thanks to the usual Walkman two-part earphone cable that provides a 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor mid-way. Stereo Bluetooth headphones are supported too. One bugbear is the side positioning of the phone’s headphone connector socket, which is also used for the charger and data cable.

The standard Sony Ericsson connector is quite bulbous, making it a touch awkward and snaggy in your pocket when the headphones are plugged in. You can listen to tunes through the loudspeaker, although the sound is wincingly tinny.

Walkman phones don’t usually have Sony Ericsson’s best cameras inside, and the W380i maintains the tradition with aplomb. 1.3 megapixels is the entry-level resolution for cameraphones in 2008, while the lack of even scratchy video shooting won’t impress those looking for YouTube glory. In good light, you can get reasonable snaps for MMSes or viewing on a PC screen, but images aren’t detailed enough for decent printing and the overall quality is generally disappointing.

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