Little brother of the first mobile stamped “Walkman” Sony Ericsson W800i, W550i, sports a design that will appeal probably to a young audience. His flamboyant orange coating is, however, somewhat tempered by the silver edges of the phone. However, if we do not like the color scheme, you can put a spare front, midnight blue or white discreet ivory. You will lose the rather pleasant feeling of non-slip rubber that gives the orange facade.
The numbered keys on the W550i are hidden behind a sliding flap that you would think, but that is actually rotating. The keyboard access is done by rotating the phone around a navigation pad located under the screen. There is no escaping the orange color, even if you have changed facade … As soon as you press a key, an orange glow illuminates the keyboard.
Little reactive, the number keys are disappointing. We do not like the navigation button for use with the thumb is really not ergonomic. However, the rocker soft buttons present on the front and the side keys are perfect. They provide quick access to the media player and internet. On the flanks, they allow you to use the camera to operate the zoom, adjust the volume and activate playback and pause.
Most keys are collected under the screen, but look closely at the top and you will distinguish two keys that blend into the phone’s design and used for games. Press the tiny start-up button on the top of the W550i to turn on the screen, where you will find the orange theme in the background. This is relatively small, but with 262,144 colors and resolution of 176 x 220 pixels, it remains clear and bright.
The W550i appears relatively bulky when held in hand. Once opened, the mobile can stretch up to 14 cm long. Fortunately, you can do almost anything without using the number keys, except the manual dialing. Besides the phone you will find in the box a connection cable to the PC and software to transfer songs and other data, the famous façade and replacement of stereo headphones. The connector of the latter is the owner, but Sony Ericsson had the good idea of integrating a jack mini jack 3.5mm to half of the cable, so you can use your own headphones.
Flight mode now
The W550i is more than just a musical mobile, but this feature remains the star. Like the W800i, it can be set to operate only in phone mode or player mode. The latter option is useful when you can not activate the GSM function, eg in aircraft. Built-in Memory 256 MB of W550i is almost fully available for storing songs. At the first start of our model, we have more than 230 MB of memory. But do not get too excited: it is impossible to extend the built-in memory. The W800i that preceded it has a just 34 MB of memory, but it comes with a Memory Stick Pro Duo 512MB that you can replace with a larger capacity card if you want to store more songs.
Sony Ericsson provides the Disc2Phone software to transfer songs on the W550i. The software is fairly simple to install and can automatically reduce the bit rate of the etched tracks to store as many songs as possible on the phone. We transferred an album of 11 tracks in just under 3 minutes.
Besides the music player feature, you will find an FM radio which, like that of the W800i, supports RDS technology and automatically chooses its 20 presets in one glance. You must connect the earphones to use the radio as they work as the antenna, but you can also listen via the two speakers mobile (one rear and one on the right side ).
Whether to listen to the radio or music, the audio quality remains good, but not exceptional. A wide stereo feature greatly improves the sound and equalizer offers significant effects. The options Bass and MegaBass add great dynamism, even a slight distortion at higher volumes in the case of the second. The speakers are less efficient than the supplied headphones and to optimize the sound quality, we preferred to use our own headphones.
This mobile has other strings to his bow. The supplied PC Suite will enable you to synchronize your calendar, contacts, tasks and memos using the supplied cable or Bluetooth connection. The camera looks like those we have already seen on the W800i and K750i, but its resolution is only 1.3 megapixel. Interestingly: You can only use it when the phone is closed. This arrangement ensures perfect ergonomics, your right index finger and left coming to rest naturally on the trigger, and buttons to zoom rocker and volume on the side of the phone. However, this mirror on the back for self-portraits is really tiny 4 mm in diameter. It is very difficult to use for framing. Some games are installed on the phone, which switches to landscape mode when you launch them, offering a gaming experience similar to that of a console.
correct audio quality, without
In his musical mobile quality, the W550i is doing rather well. Its 256MB of memory is certainly greater than that offered by many phones, but no expansion slot is regrettable. Disc2Phone seem rudimentary but fulfills its task. In contrast, is more mixed than exceptional quality audio and music lovers will not want to get rid of their old walkman. The camera has meanwhile taken satisfactory quality shots.
The quality of voice calls was perfect, both in terms of volume and connectivity. Autonomy also proved remarkable. We could use the W550i for a working week without having to recharge the battery. In addition, during our test period, we spent a whole day to call and listen to different songs and radio but failed to drain the battery.