Sony Ericsson W880 Review

Even at its presentation, W880 stood out among its ‘predecessors’ as an innovative and modern model. This is the telephone that has been the topic of company gossip for months on end, and one impatiently expected by the public as well. The new W800 ‘Ai’ is the revolutionary slim-line device, which has been missing from the products range of the Swedish-Japanese joint-venture so far. What is interesting about W880 and distinguishes it from other Walkman models of the company is the fact that, apart from featuring a completely new design and market strategy, it is ‘one of a kind’ and has a definitely distinctive look, rather than be a ‘clone’ of another Sony Ericsson model. With its high-quality manufacturing this thin Walkman is targeted at consumers that tend to prefer portable size to very high functionality, and would not deny themselves the musical advantages of the Walkman series at the same time.

The standard sales package set includes:
  • W880
  • Charger
  • Computer connection cable
  • Headphones
  • CD
  • Instruction manual.

W880 is the smallest Walkman phone so far: its 9 mm ‘thickness’ make this quite evident. Being a classical ‘candy bar’ unit, it has the standard Walkman color combination of black and orange (a grey instead of black version is available, too), which contributes to its ‘youthful’ and a bit frivolous air. The orange is a clear indicator of its purpose – amusement, not work. The front panel is of metal proper, very pleasant to touch; the back one – quality plastic. Interestingly, leaving finger prints on it is very hard – only the display is susceptible to that. Its construction is sturdy and one gets the feel of a high-class telephone, with no compromise in this respect.


Dimension (Inches)

Dimension (MM)

Weight (OZ)

Weight (Gramms)

Sony Ericsson W880

4.0" x 1.8" x 0.4"

103 x 46.5 x 9.4



Sony Ericsson W810

3.9" x 1.8" x 0.8"

100 x 46 x 19.5



Nokia 6300

4.2" x 1.7" x 0.5"

106.5 x 43.5 x 12



Motorola SLVR L7

4.5" x 1.9" x 0.5"

113.5 x 49 x 11.5



One of the fields, subject to compromise, however, is the display. Despite its high resolution, typical of the respective class (240 x 320 pixels), it is rather small (only 1.8 inches) in order to fit into the compact body. It is not quite bright, which is compensated for by good contrast, so objects can be seen well. If laid next to an older one like that of W810, the difference will be clearly made in its favor. The best side of it is definitely the resolution – very high for the size, making pixels invisible because of their minuteness.

The keypad is below the display, where the small size of the buttons along with the comparatively large distance between them makes a strong impression. At first it seemed inconvenient to us, but it is just the opposite – all buttons are easily localized and very light to press. One can seldom press a key by mistake, or press without result. The small 5-direction pad works faultlessly, and the bulges in its upper and lower parts help to clearly feel the directions. Even large-handed people can use it with ease, which is really impressive.

Being quite a slim telephone, its side buttons are significantly smaller than those of other models. On the upper left side there is the miniature Walkman shortcut, which can hardly be felt but is still convenient to press. This button opens the music player or hides it, if opened. Instead of another one on the right, there is a small scroller to control the sound or change tracks. A quick push will alter the sound up/down, whereas holding it (during music playback) will switch to previous/next song. This is a bit strange – logically the direction increasing the volume must correspond to NEXT, not previous, song. In the lower part there is the camera’s shutter button.

The lower left side serves as a non-standard location for the connector, which is normally placed on the bottom surface, left bare here. It means you will not be able to make use of some accessories (various kits and syncing stations) and moreover, we consider the side-protruding cables more unpleasant with regard to the increased unit size than their normal positioning underneath. Next below the connector is the M2 card slot with a rubber cap. Cards can be replaced while the telephone is in operation.


As far as software is concerned W880 is a typical Sony Ericsson. The new series of the manufacturer does not come with a new user interface, which makes it very similar to the previous models. The musical software Walkman 2.0 is the available upgrade for this type of phones, but there is nothing so special about it really.

The unit’s home-screen displays system information only: level of signal strength/ battery, date, hour, etc. Unlike the Nokia Series 40, Sony Ericsson does not yet dispose of the option to display active information on the screen in stand-by mode, and thus use most of its potential. The four directions of the d-pad are shortcuts to various functions, three of them pre-defined whereas the fourth (right) is left to the user’s choice. In addition you can use the right-side shortcut button as well as the link to the Web browser. There is no Walkman key here like the one in the previous models. Anyway, you will not need such there so long as you have it on the left side.

The appearance of the Start menu can differ depending on the current visual theme you are using. By default the telephone shows the ‘Walkman’ theme with a 3 x 4 grid of animated icons, which is simply reminiscent of the ‘Old School’. Our unit had 2 themes on the card and one – in the built-in memory. Since Flash UI Themes is supported (as with W810), the menu can be replaced trouble-free. Apart from the colors, two of the themes altered the icons of the main menu as well. Perhaps the most interesting of them (though not most convenient) is the one called Citybeat, which turns the main menu into a horizontal list that can only be scrolled left/right. This system provides a lot of choice to personalize and themes are not restricted to color and icon change. They are capable of altering the menu type itself and adding effects like vibration at moving, etc. Unfortunately the sub-menus are hardly changed by the themes; they always appear as a horizontal list with several different tabs.


In the contact list up to 1000 names can be loaded into the phone memory with several numbers each, but the total must not exceed 2500 numbers. Contacts are viewed in a vertical name list without images. There is an option to search by up to several symbols, but only applied to the first name word. This has been our major complaint for quite some time – there is no way to search by family name.
Each contact has a quite a lot of blank lines that are sufficient to fit the necessary information in most cases. Up to five numbers can be entered, but only one of a type (i.e. it is not possible to type two mobile phone numbers); also several e-mails and an address. There is a space for adding text information and one for birth date, which enables you to enter an All Day Event to your calendar. It is a bit inconvenient that it will not inform you of the exact age of the respective person. Each contact can be supplied with its own Caller ID image and Ring ID tone, which can also be a Video file.


Here you will find the standard Sony Ericsson organizer as well. The number of alarms has been increased to five; however, other problematic issues have not been fixed. For example, the days with ascribed events from the calendar are only barely marked in bold and one can hardly tell them from the rest. In the Task menu reminders with an alarm for certain hour can be set and the calculator interface is rather inconvenient. Notes, Timer and Stopwatch are also available. Code Memo is an odd application: in it you can create messages that are not protected by a password – it only serves for decoding them instead. However, anyone – even not knowing the password – can erase them, which makes us think there is little sense in this.

The voice control system is really useless and mediocre. It has to be manually activated and, not being speaker-independent, a voice tag for each name to be dialed must be recorded. While recording (respectively – searching) a voice tag, the unit must be in contact with your ear. First it displays the necessary instructions on the screen and in no time has to be pressed against the ear, so that you can hear the ‘beep’ sound prior to recording the tag. Whether one has performed that right is not registered by sound, which takes another look at the display in order to confirm you have successfully done so.

The telephone features around 16 – 17 Mb in-built user-available memory, which can be increased up to thru a Micro M2 card. We consider this to be a very impractical solution, typical for Sony Ericsson, because this card’s price is higher than that of its analogues and its capacity definitely does not exceed theirs. Fortunately the manufacturer has included a 1 Gb Micro M2 in the sales package. If you wish to replace it with a one of larger memory, there are M2 cards of up to 2 Gb on the market at present.


In the messages field you will find not only the text and multimedia messages, but extras like e-mail, My Friends (instant messenger) and an RSS reader as well. The electronic mail can be used while on the move with POP3, as well as IMAP4 servers. The RSS reader is convenient and easy option to look at an interesting Internet site without having to download it all; the RSS content will enable you to receive only certain information. My Friends is a chat messenger that combines your contacts from the other popular messengers (including MSN, ICQ, AOL, and Yahoo) in one shared program on the telephone. In order to start using it you need register free in



The local connection to other telephones is done only thru Bluetooth so long as this model lacks Infrared. Clearly Sony Ericsson have at last decided to follow suit and do as Motorola and Nokia did – stop using this technology, which is already obsolete. Bluetooth version 2 is supported, supposed to provide the highest transfer speed; and thanks to the A2DP profile music can be played thru a wireless stereo system or headphones of the same standard.

Recommended Stories
One of the weaknesses of W880 is the network support, since it is a tri-, not quad-band telephone – therefore not usable on all continents. Thus its operation is restricted to Europe and Asia, not America, and the same restriction applies to the 3G support as well. The latter provides for fast Internet connection and the option for video conversations. This is feasible due to the second camera located on the front panel.

Despite the small-sized display you will not be disappointed by the Internet browser in case you use the UMTS connection. However, in an area not covered by 3G you need to rely entirely on the slow GPRS in view of the fact that the telephone does not support the intermediate EDGE level. The QVGA resolution demonstrates here its advantages, visualizing quite a large portion of the desired site. The browser disposes of two options: either an optimized viewing in a single column without horizontal scroll (altering the original image), or a real HTML – the way you would see it on a computer. We preferred the latter and chose to view pages in landscape screen orientation and with the full screen mode on. The Internet is definitely usable and the only unpleasant thing about it is the small display, which, in our opinion, would prevent users from logging on frequently. However, if need be, it will do its job.


On the back of W880 there is a 2 mega pixel camera, standard equipment for most phones of a similar class. The distinction here between W880 and the Cybershop telephones is even greater than before because this module has neither flashlight nor auto-focus. It means that, according to specifications, its camera is of even lower quality than the one of the first Walkman (W800), which became available almost two years ago!
However, the interface used by the camera is similar to that of the other Sony Ericssons. It is horizontally oriented, fast and easy to use, enabling white balance control and color effects.

The camera is on within 3.5 seconds of holding its button. The picture saving at maximum resolution is also speedy – it takes about 4 seconds.
This camera is mostly intended to take pictures in the open, where light is bright and natural; given the proper conditions photos look really good, have a correct exposure and genuine colors. When viewed at 100 % though, they look slightly blurred because of the ‘noise’-reduction system. The auto-focus absence is quite evident, but provided you take pictures of distant objects such as buildings you will achieve very good results due to the camera’s fixed focal length.

There is no sense in attempting to photograph indoors or at poor illumination – the results will be quite unsatisfactory. The profuse ‘noise’ in such circumstances destroys the little detail and in a dark environment the pictures will be just as dark – there is no flashlight whatsoever to ‘brighten’ them up.

The user is capable of shooting short video clips at a very low resolution, which means their size will be too small when viewed on a computer (or another large-screen device); they are simply not suitable for that. Their sole usage is MMS messaging.

Music Player:

Oddly enough, at switching on, this telephone does not ask if it should enter Normal or Walkman mode like the previous W-series models but offers the choice between Normal and Flight instead - as with the other, non-Walkman ones.

W880 is one of the first telephones of this manufacturer to come with v.2 of the Walkman music player. Despite of the fact that the company advertises it as an entirely new product, we would rather say it is a cosmetic change without any new functionality – perhaps providing simply better comfort. During playback the names of the song, author and album are visualized, as well as a picture if the file contains one. Apart from sorting by play lists, your music can be sorted by author, album and track name. Music files of MP3, AAC, WAV, and WMA formats are playable.

The phone loudspeaker’s output is strong enough and it is pleasant to listen to music on it for a short time. In a normal, quiet environment, level 5 out of 8 is sufficient for listening. The design allows for the speaker to be heard loudly and clearly enough even when the unit has been laid on a table, despite its positioning on the back. However, in most cases you will prefer to enjoy music with the stereo headphones.

There are noise-reduction headphones like those of the rest Walkman units. One advantage is that they feature an adaptor from the Sony Ericsson jack to a 3.5 mm one; the drawback is that the earbuds have poor sound quality. None of the frequency ranges is reproduced well so instead of enjoyment, music listening can even prove irritable for discerning music lovers at times. Their sound is characterized by sharp and displeasing high frequency, unclear and ‘flat’ middle, and rumbling, undiscriminated bass. Listening to acoustic guitar proved to be a challenge to our nerves, let alone the ‘booming’ bass that turns nauseating when a corresponding bass equalizer is pushed up. As for vocals, they sound very unnaturally and flat as well.

In addition you can be dissatisfied by the rubber ear pieces. It is quite likely that none of the three set sizes will fit in, or you can even get an irritating feeling by the foreign body in the ear meatus, which will make you remove the headphones fast. In case you plan to seriously use the telephone for listening to music (which is only natural so long as it is a Walkman one), we definitely recommend the purchase of better headphones with a 3.5 mm connector. This is a way to considerably improve sound quality at a rather low price.

Another shortcoming of W880 compared to previous models is the side connector positioning, which renders the most of their kits and cradles unusable.

Another shortage is the lack of an FM radio. Obviously Sony Ericsson have not managed to squeeze in the radio module in the smaller corpus, thus depriving their top Walkman model of it. This is a pity.

A very enjoyable extra is the Track ID application, which is duly located in the options of the main menu. This is a program, which records a sample of sound, sends it to a server, and tells the user which song they belong to. The application operated faultlessly – it recognized 5 out of 5! After vocal performances we decided to encumber it with a guitar solo of Joe Satriani – it guessed the track unmistakably. Then we ‘tried’ it with a little-known song from a compilation of electronic music (Sounds of Asian Underground), which was also recognized easily. Within around 20 seconds (including recording, sending and analysis) the program achieves very good results.
It is rare to see a screen message that Track ID has not found any results for your music.

We are disappointed by the fact that the in-built Video Player cannot reproduce MPEG4 H.264 – the codec with best results on mobile phones at present, but just like its ‘predecessors’ makes a good use of H.263. Video files can be viewed in full screen mode and landscape orientation. A converted music clip of about 4 minutes takes up approximately 17 Mb. Of course, small-sized 3GPP clips can also be played but the quality is quite poor because of this format’s limitations.

A pleasant extra in the video folder of File Explorer is the automatic start of a minimized play at pointing the file’s thumbnail.


With the help of File Explorer you can view the items, memorized in the telephone or on the memory card. Here are the pre-loaded games as well: in our case – a single Quadra Pop, a version of the TETRIS classic.

There are two pre-loaded applications: Music Mate – a Music Utility with Pitch, Guitar and Metronome simulations and a World Clock. The latter is a 3D Earth model that can be rotated at will, but you can also search by town name, first letter only.

In the Entertainment menu one will find Video DJ, Photo DJ, and Music DJ. Video DJ enables you to merge text, images, and video files in a short clip; Photo DJ makes ordinary editing of pictures saved in the telephone (like brightness and contrast control); and Music DJ is a melody composer.
Other games and applications can also be loaded thanks to the JAVA MIDP 2.0 support.

Working with the telephone is reminiscent of the other Sony Ericsson models and the menus are comparatively fast and appropriate; they will seldom make you wait. Even the camera starts and saves images very rapidly. Unfortunately, during the several days we used the device, it crashed once for no reason, making a restart inevitable – this is not excusable for a non-smart phone.
Its performance as a receiver leaves on us mixed but mostly positive attitudes. On one side, signal reception is on the limit of being weak, on the other – sound during conversation is very good; you hear loud, though, unfortunately, sharp and unreal voices with no low frequency. On the other end there is an exceptionally strong and clear audibility, with only a little air of ‘distance’. When using the speakerphone your voice is also normally audible there, as opposed to what is heard from the W880’s speaker in open-air, slightly noisy environment, while holding the telephone in hand. At such circumstances you will hardly hear anything.


Sony Ericsson W880 is an odd telephone: intended to be used for music, it has fewer features in common with the cybershot models, which impairs its functionality, though. And despite the music orientation, there is the striking inadequateness of not having an FM radio and stereo speakers, a non-standard connector positioning, and poor sound quality in the headphones. The compromise on functionality is somewhat compensated by the fact that it is the thinnest Sony Ericsson and by the excellent manufacturing, which leaves a pleasant impression on us. In case you are looking for music oriented and, at the same time, thin telephone, you should check on the W880 model. And if what matters for you is the overall functionality rather than music, consider the slim ones of Motorola and Samsung.


  • Thin body and solid construcion
  • Very good keyboard
  • TrackID gives excellent responce
  • 3G UMTS


  • Lack of FM radio
  • Only tri-band GSM
  • The camera is worse than the one of the first Walkman (W800)

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

19 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless