MWC 2009: Live Report

Sony Ericsson Idou

The code-named Idou (read it “I do”) is Sony Ericsson’s first phone following the slogan “entertainment unlimited”. Are you wondering what this means? Well, this is what we call an “all-in-one” device and what rivaling manufacturers (Samsung, LG) have already offered last year. Until now, Sony Ericsson had either good camera or good music features – respectively in the top Cyber-shot and top Walkman phones. It seems that they have now realized the customers want it all and Idou is the first all-in-one model. Although looking as a C905 on steroids, it is a really new phone, so check the following lines.

It will do it all, but will it do it fine? If we read its specs  - definitely yes! The camera is top-notch, with 12-megapixel resolution and a xenon flash. The display is also really impressive – it is a 3.5” touch sensitive unit with 360x640 pixels resolution for 16:9 ratio, suitable for movie watching. There is no information if it will support DivX, Xvid or if it will play HD movies (as the OMNIA HD), but the TV in the Media menu gives us hope that the final unit will have a tuner – DVB-T will be great! By the way, the Media menu is almost identical to the one found on every other Sony Ericsson phone and the gallery and music player also look very similar, but upgraded  in order to take advantage of the touch screen. This made us think the Idou is not a smartphone during its announcement, but we were wrong  – it is the first announced device to run the new open-source version of the Symbian OS. Of course “regular” stuff like GPS, 3G and Wi-Fi are present and supported.
So overall, it really seems that it has it all, and the “entertainment unlimited” slogan doesn’t look out of place.  However, the performance and the software will be what will make or break it. What we see is nice, but we’ll keep our final judgment for our review. It is expected to launch in the second half of the year and additional details, including its real model name will be revealed later. Don’t worry, we’ll update you on each of them!

Sony Ericsson W995

The second big announcement SE made at the MWC is the new top of the line Walkman phone – the W995. Previously known from leaked (we just love those) information as the Hikaru, the W995 will not only pack the standard Walkman functionality, but 8.1 mega pixel camera as well, to “offer the ultimate in multimedia experience”.

Keep in mind the units present here at the expo as all pre-production, so their performance in terms of keyboard, screen etc. might change. The phone is comparably small with very good in-hand feel. The front is dominated by the untypically large for Sony Ericsson 2.6” display. The quality is good, but we actually expected something with even greater quality, given this top of the line device. Here is our personal message to Sony Ericsson: it is about time you forget about the 320x240 resolution and move up… at least on the high-end models.

The keys on the front were quite good, given its pre-release status. Some of us were quite happy with the d-pad, while others found it kind of small for larger fingers. No doubt, even a legally blind person will see the humongous OK button located in the middle of the d-pad (this is not a complaint!). The keys on the keypad were really hard to press, which is something we are confident will be fixed before it ships out.

The right side has three music dedicated buttons, the camera shutter and the … hmm… what do you call something that is hard to see, hard to fell and hard to press? SE calls it the volume rocker. They should follow their own example from the IV-835 headset, where they just completely removed the volume keys after struggling to make them user-friendly. Now on more serious note, hopefully at least the tactile feedback is improved on the volume rocker.

The back side has the 8.1 mega-pixel camera module with photo flash and a metal semi-ellipse used to either as a stand to prop the phone on a flat surface for watching videos, or to wear it on your neck. Making it stay upright on the table is not easy, unless stand is not exactly at 90 degrees to your phone.

After bashing SE for the volume-rocker, we have to congratulate them for finally including the standard 3.5mm head-phones jack in a Walkman-series device! Another nifty feature is the DLNA compatibility, allowing the user to view content from the W995 on other DLNA certified devices, such as Play Station 3.

Sony Ericsson C903

From the first look, the C903 seems like just another Sony Ericsson handset and indeed it is. However, if it comes at a good price it may become pretty decent camera phone. It is a mid-level device and wouldn’t wow you with its specs, but wouldn’t disappoint either – it has 2.4” QVGA display, 5MP camera, 3G, GPS, you name it, all packed into decently sized and designed slider phone. What we love about it is the sliding lens cover that is as long as the phone itself and moves very easy, without any effort. This is a great improvement compared to previous models and some may like it even more than the automatic covers, as it allows you to easily start the camera without using the buttons. Mentioning the keys, the design of the numeric keypad reminds us of the C905, and it seems to be flat, but actually is not. Also as the high-end Cyber-shot, the d-pad illuminates its camera functionality once the camera interface turns on. Typically for SE, the navigation keys are well spaced and with well expressed relief, so feeling them by touch is extra easy. Overall, as we started, the C903 may become a nice slider camera phone and the only things we don’t like about it are the d-pad design and the color solution – white, chrome and purple?!

Sony Ericsson W395

The W395 was announced a few days ago and is what SE touts as the Walkman “bringing great music to the masses”.  The newest Walkman slider is part of the lower end of the family, but still packs decent feature-set. Design-wise, it is a standard slider with 2.0 inch display on the front. The screen is nothing to brag about but still offers very decent brightness and details given it is a low-end device.  All the keys and the d-pad located below the display were with good feedback and did not cause any issues. The same can be said about the main keypad.  One of the more interesting features is the stereo speakers located on its back. Unfortunately, the room was way too loud to test them out properly, so expect an update on this soon.

Feature-wise, the device is a quad-band with EDGE only data and 2-megapixel camera. Similar to the other Sony Ericsson device, it runs their generic UI.  The expected availability is the first quarter of this year.


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