Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman Review

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T, but without 3G.


The Walkman revolutionized the way people listened to music when it came out in the late 70's. For the first time, people could easily enjoy their favorite tunes on the go thanks to a portable battery powered gizmo. Now that Walkman Personal Stereos are way past their time, the brand name lives only in the form of digital media players and an aging line of cell phones built by Sony Ericsson.

The Sony Ericsson W8 is an attempt to revive the Walkman brand and bring it to the world of modern smartphones with the help of Android – its rather outdated 2.1 Eclair version, to be exact. Built by using the Xperia X8 as a template, the W8 promises to deliver outstanding audio performance while being an affordable entry-level Android device at the same time. At a glance, the handset grabs the attention with its brightly colored back panel and its easy to use interface, but will it leave a good impression in our minds once we are done playing with it? Lets take a closer look and find out for ourselves.


The Sony Ericsson Xperia W8 basically looks like a differently colored Xperia X8 with a Walkman logo slapped on it, and the more we use it the more obvious this becomes. We have the same 3-inch scratch-resistant capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 320x480 pixels and the practically identical thick, lumpy body with a slight curve at the back. Even though the TFT LCD display should display a spectrum of 16 million colors, there is a noticeable amount of dithering when viewing color gradients. Besides that, the screen looks yellowish and the color temperature leans quite a bit towards the warm side. Another drawback of the display is that if it has been off for a while, it flickers for a few seconds once you turn it back on, supposedly because of a poorly engineered backlight dimming technique. Nevertheless, the display resolution is more than satisfactory for a screen of this size – graphics look smooth and even the smallest of text is easily readable. Using the W8 Walkman outdoors might get a bit tricky if the sun shines too bright, but turning the brightness all the way up should help to some extent.

You can compare the Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The body of the Xperia W8 Walkman is built entirely out of plastic, even though its back cover slightly resembles anodized aluminum. The slight curves on the back of the handset make it comfortable to hold, yet being a humble 3-incher means that people with bigger hands might have a hard time using it. With a weight of 3.7 ounces, or 104 grams, the Xperia W8 weighs just enough so that you can feel how it is resting in your pocket.

Well, there seems to be nothing impressive about the Xperia W8 Walkman so far, but it is the audio performance of the device that we are more interested in, right? Lets put it to the test and see if the Sony Ericsson W8 can bring it.

Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman 360-degrees View:

Interface and Functionality:

As we mentioned earlier, the Sony Ericsson W8 runs the aging Android 2.1 Eclair. This is very disappointing to see on a smartphone launching in a time when 2.2 Froyo is dominating and 2.3 Gingerbread is already catching up. On top of the Android platform we see an optimized version of the UX interface, which is actually quite intuitive and easy to use. Every home screen on the W8 can have only one widget on it, but the limitation is probably imposed due to the screen's relatively small size. The four corners of the home screen can be personalized with a shortcut of your choice, which is really a neat feature to have.

The list of software that comes preinstalled on the Xperia W8 Walkman includes Timescape, which acts like a social hub putting notifications from Facebook and Twitter together, It also keeps track of your call logs and text messages. Of course, it is not as functional as a dedicated client, but it gets the job done if you need to take a quick peak at what is going on with your buddies. You also get a perfectly working YouTube player, Google Maps, and a trial version of Wisepilot for navigation. The GPS module on the W8 worked pretty well taking only about 20 seconds to find our location from a cold start and about a couple of seconds from then onwards.

Browsing the web on the Sony Ericsson W8 would have been a better experience if the built-in browser did support pinch-to-zoom and Adobe Flash. Nevertheless, heavy web pages, including our own, scrolled smoothly once the page loaded completely. You can connect to the internet either over Wi-Fi, or by using the smartphone's 3G radio, which theoretically could handle speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps on the downlink and 2.0 Mbps on the uplink.

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The Xperia W8 may be made for listening to music, but as a digital camera, it really leaves a lot to be desired. The 3.2-megapixel shooter takes average-looking photos with little detail, even under well-lit conditions. Due to the absence of autofocus, close-ups look somewhat blurry, and since there is no flash of any kind, using the camera at night is pointless. The W8 Walkman can shoot videos in VGA resolution at 30 frames per second, and for a low-end smartphone, they look satisfying.

Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman Sample Video:

Viewing videos on the W8 is not something that you might be doing on a daily basis, but if the relatively small display does not bother you, the smartphone can easily handle MPEG-4 videos up to 800x480 in resolution. Other formats do not seem to be playable through the built-in video player.

The Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman comes with two components, which are essential for a music-oriented phone – a 2-gigabyte microSD card preinstalled and a pair of premium earphones that also double as a hands-free headset. You also get media and volume control buttons right on the earphones' cord for a fast and easy access to your tunes. Nevertheless, if you feel like using a pair of headphones of your own, there is a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack at your disposal.

So, how did it sound like? Well, after a couple of days of listening to a variety of music genres, we concluded that the Xperia W8 Walkman sounds better than most smartphones in the low- to mid-end category, but that is only because of the headphones that it comes with. Contrary to popular belief, Walkman phones do not have a special high performance audio chip in them. The earphones sit tightly inside your ear canal and isolate some of the background noise with their rubber tips, which is why the music sounds clear with a good amount of bass. The sound that they produce is just as loud as it should be, which some people who like cranking it up too much might find annoying. Overall, listening to music on the Sony Ericsson W8 is a pleasant experience.

In terms of software, the built-in audio player seems to be quite basic for a Walkman-branded phone, and you might be better off downloading a different one from the Android Market. You can sort your music by title or artist name, as well as to create playlists of your own, but the ability to browse audio by albums is surprisingly missing. It is also strange to see no equalizer presets and that the Mega Bass feature is not present. Overall, the default audio player is rather underwhelming and should have definitely been improved on. One useful feature, though, is the player's ability to search the web and recommend music similar to the one you are currently listening to, kind of like Apple's Genius, and it can even play it back through the phone's YouTube client.


The Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman left us with mixed feelings about its in-call sound quality. The earpiece was making voices sound muffled and even somewhat distorted when the volume was set to the maximum. Using the wired headset did not seem to help much and its microphone is simply too far down the cord to be used without having to hold it closer to your mouth. Fortunately, the other side of the line could hear us loud and clear without even a hint of digitizing.

Being powered by a modest 600 MHz processor does not seem to slow the W8 Walkman down in any way. The interface feels fluid and responsive while navigating even when the music is playing in the background. It may not be powerful enough to let you play any demanding games, but Angry Birds, Speedx 3D and Robo Defence run flawlessly on the Xperia W8.

The W8 comes with a 1200mAh Li-Po battery rated at 4.75 hours of talk time and 18 days of stand-by, which is somewhat below average. Our real life test showed that it takes about 6 hours of heavy usage, with Wi-Fi on and the brightness set to the maximum, to drain it completely out of juice. If you use the smartphone as an audio player only, it should be good for almost 24 hours of playback.


To wrap things up, we liked the Sony Ericsson Xperia W8 Walkman for being a simple to use entry-level smartphone and for coming with a pair of nice earphones out of the box. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much backing up its Walkman brand, let alone bring it back to life. The Xperia W8 is an easy way of joining the Android team, but the aging Android 2.1 Eclair version that it comes with will simply not give you the full potential of the platform. We would only recommend getting one if you are a music lover who needs an affordable smartphone that can double as an audio player. The LG Optimus One, the HTC Wildfire S and the Samsung GALAXY Gio seem like great alternatives to the Xperia W8.

Model Number: E16i
Firmware version: 2.1-update1
Baseband version: M76XX-TSNCJOLYM-53404015
Kernel version: 2.6.29 / SEMCUser@SEMChost #1
Build number: 2.1.1.A.0.46

Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman Video Review:


  • High quality earphones
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable Android device


  • Comes with Android 2.1 Eclair
  • Poor camera performance

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User Rating:

3 Reviews

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