Sony Ericsson W600i
At a Glance
Sony Ericsson W600i Cell Phone (GSM, Bluetooth, 1.3MP, 256MB)
Bright orange and sporty looking, the W600i is fun to use and ideal for music fans and casual shutterbugs.
From a distance, Sony Ericsson's W600i looks more like a small shower radio than a standard cell phone. Up close, the handset--with its orange case and matte silver trim--looks very sporty. All things considered, it's a fantastic camera and music phone, but its call quality is mediocre.
To take pictures with this $300 Cingular phone (as of April 7, 2006, with a two-year agreement), you have to close it and hold it in landscape (horizontal) position. You can't use the camera with the cover open, which can be an annoying limitation. When the device is in landscape picture-taking mode, the shutter button is on the top right (technically, it's on the side panel of the phone), easily accessible to a user's index finger. It mimics the format of standard point-and-shoot cameras.
The W600i's 1.3-megapixel camera took great looking snapshots, compared to many other camera phones I've seen. My outdoor pictures were colorful and showed satisfactory detail. The camera offers flexible controls, including exposure and white balance adjustments. It also includes a panorama mode, which lets you stitch together three consecutive photos. My experience with this feature was mixed; in some cases the combined photos looked impressive, but others the images overlapped.
The W600i is part of Sony Ericsson's Walkman phone series, and in handling music it takes a few cues from its Walkman relatives. Transferring music involved installing the included PC syncing software, hooking up the phone to a PC via the bundled USB cable, and syncing MP3s from PC to phone. Unfortunately, though this process was reasonably straightforward, it was painfully slow. The phone comes with an FM transmitter dongle; the radio did a decent job of picking up local stations.
The W600i offers impressive sound quality. Compared to the ones on other phones, the built-in speakers had good volume level and produced sufficient depth. Just don't expect hi-fi: The audio quality is similar to what you'd get from a low-cost alarm clock radio. I enjoyed listening to tunes over the included earphones, where the volume level was even louder.
The phone's only weakness lies in its so-so call quality. In some of my conversations, people complained that my voice sounded faint. Part of the problem was a weak cellular signal in certain areas. Otherwise, the phone was comfortable and simple to use. The LCD swivels 180 degrees, revealing the numeric keypad inside. But because it lacks phone talk and end keys, you can't readily tell how to initiate a call.
Talk-time battery life was excellent, however, reaching the maximum 10 hours in our PC World Test Center tests without expiring.
In the end, I enjoyed using the W600i. It's fun to use for music, and it takes lovely snapshots to boot.