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Sony Ericsson Walkman W980 music phone

Too few non-music features

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The 176 x 176, 262,000-colour outer screen is hidden at rest, popping up when the phone’s activated or the music player switched on. Underneath, the Walkman player control set up, glowing orange or white through the black, is rather nicely done. You can scroll through categories and track lists, viewing them on the mini screen as well as operating the standard forward/back/play/pause keys - so you can effectively operate the W980 as a music player without opening it. Haptic feedback lets you know when the touch buttons have been tapped, and a slider on the side locks the keys from accidental pressing.

Holding in the play/pause button enables you to play with the Shake Control function. Left or right motion switches tracks, while up or down movement does volume. It’s very gimmicky, and functionally unnecessary. It’s far simpler – and more reliable – to change tracks just by tapping the forward/back button directly next to the play/pause key, and there’s a no-nonsense volume rocker too that avoids the possibility of sending the phone flying.

Sony Ericsson W980

This isn’t a slimline clamshell

Another side button allows you to toggle the external display between the music player, a regular standby screen and the FM radio, which can also be operated from the external controls.

One design element you may want to turn off is a light effect in a strip of transparent plastic at the bottom of the flip, which pulses in time to tracks. Unless flashing lights on your phone are your thing, of course...

Open the flip, and the inside is neat and tidy rather than head-turning. Round keys, edged in chrome on a black panel, carry on the circular design theme. The flush numberpad seems slightly elongated and narrowly arranged but the buttons are large, fine to handle and responsive. The control keys around the large navpad, however, are a little too cramped for our liking, particularly on a panel that looks large enough for more separation. It’s possible to press adjacent keys too - such as the call end, clear and softkeys - if you have larger fingers or are using the phone in the gloom.

This model adopts straightforward control conventions, with regular Call and End buttons. The menu navigation system is the latest user-friendly Sony Ericsson standard-issue icon-plus-tabbed-menus set-up.

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