The W880i's Walkman player is more or less standard. Settings include an equalizer with a treble boost and Sony's Mega Bass, playlists, stereo widening, and shuffle and loop modes. The interface is minimalist, but you can select a color skin and choose from three simple visualizations. The player also supports album art, but it won't recognize every song it plays. You also get an airplane mode for listening to your tunes with the phone transmitter off.
To load music, you can use the included USB cable and the Disc2Phone software. The software can be a bit clunky, so we prefer to simply drag and drop music from a PC. Internal memory is capped at a low 16MB, so it's advised that you use a Memory Stick Micro card. Unfortunately, you don't get the normal FM radio, which is disappointing. We'd prefer it instead of the Music ID or Music Mate applications.
The W880i's 2-megapixel camera shoots photos in three sizes (2-megapixel, 1-megapixel, and standard VGA). Other options include two quality settings, three color effects, a night mode, white balance and brightness adjustments, a digital zoom (unusable at the highest resolution), and four shutter sounds (there's no silent option). There's also a self-timer, a multishot mode and an option for taking panoramic shots. The camcorder takes clips with sound and offers a set of editing options similar to the still camera. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 30 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the memory permits. Picture quality decent; some images looked a bit washed out but objects were distinct. Colors were fine though oranges and reds were somewhat harsh The W880i comes with PhotoDJ and VideoDJ applications and you can connect the phone directly to a photo printer.
You can personalize the W880i with a variety of themes, wallpaper, screensavers, and clock styles. As always, you can purchase more options and ring tones from Sony Ericsson via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Alternatively, the phone comes with a Music DJ application for composing your own ringtones. Gamers get just one title (J2ME) titles, QuadraPop, but you can buy additional titles.
We tested the triband (GSM 900/1800/1900) Sony Ericsson W880i in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Without the GSM 850 band, the W880i will have a slightly limited coverage area in the United States, but it should be fine in urban areas. Also, while it supports 3G networks, it works only with the 2100 band used outside of North America.
Call quality was very nice. Voices were crystal clear with no static or interference. The volume level was more than satisfactory and we could understand our friend clearly even where we were in a noisy environment. Callers reported no issues on their end, and we had no trouble being understood by automated telephone services. Speakerphone calls were fine, though the sound was a tad garbled at the highest volume levels. Though we're never fans of a rear-facing speaker--it's not the most ideal arrangement for resting your phone on a table during a hands-free call--we could hear our callers plainly. On their end, callers had trouble hearing us unless we were in a quiet room. Bluetooth calls were issue-free.
Music quality wasn't quite as good as we've experienced on other Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. Music was a bit tinny. The sole speaker provided better output than we expected, but our tunes weren't very tolerable at the highest levels. Headphones provide the best experience.
The Sony Ericsson W880i has a rated battery life of 6.5 hours talk time. That's a bit less than other Walkman phones, but you can blame the smaller battery. That said, however, our tests did reveal a talk time of 7 hours and 50 minutes, so it's not that bad after all. For standby life the promised time is 17.7 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the W580i has a digital SAR rating of 1.47 watts per kilogram.
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