The Sony Ericsson W980 is an astoundingly good consumer phone that is beautifully finished, offers that all-important haptic interface to give it a real edge, a full 8GB of onboard memory and some well designed features.

Although primarily a music phone - hence the Walkman branding - the Sony Ericsson W980 comes laden with a none-too-shabby 3.2Mp camera with flash. This is more discreet than some onboard cameras. It's just below the clamshell handset's hinge and all but hidden by the soft-touch black rubber backing. This finish is not only protective; it also makes the phone feel better built than many other phones.

A fairly common complaint with both clamshell and slider phones is that they are too flimsy. This certainly isn't the case with the Sony Ericsson W980 - it's robust and its haptic (fingertip- and vibration-sensitive) menu controls mean you can access your media library and control the Walkman without having to flip it open.

The front of the Sony Ericsson W980 is covered in seethrough plastic. This pulsates gently with a white light as the phone quietly starts up and orange for a few seconds after you start a song playing (this can be deactivated if you wish). Place a finger on the central concave button on the front of this phone and you can instantly pause or resume a track.

However, the Sony Ericsson W980 also responds to a shake - if you've had enough of a particular song, you can jiggle the phone and something else will start playing.

We were also intrigued by a feature known as SenseMe. The tracks preloaded on the Sony Ericsson W980 - mainly but not exclusively classical - have been tagged according to their tempo and their mood. You use the left, right, up and down buttons to show where on the mood scale you are and the sort of music that will suit: happy, sad, fast or slow. The CD that comes with the Sony Ericsson W980 lets you add more tracks with mood information.

Given the 8GB memory on this phone, there's room for hundreds of albums. These can be transferred to the Sony Ericsson W980 via USB. As with the headphones Sony Ericsson supplies, the connection is a proprietary two-pronged one.

Once you've dragged and dropped music, photos and other media from your laptop or PC on to the Sony Ericsson W980's Sony Stick memory, it takes a few seconds for the handset memory to update itself. However, album art and full track details are preserved, as you'll see if you bring up the Properties for each song.

The Sony Ericsson W980's headphones are of Sony Ericsson's usual high-quality, in-ear variety with a clip for pegging them to your clothes and a button for taking phone calls. (Full voice commands and voice dialling are supported.) The earphones and the connector separate out so you can use the earphones with other music players too, as long as they have a 3.5mm jack.

You can identify unknown tracks should something playing on the FM radio take your fancy - there's a shortcut to a TrackID feature that involves you telling it when to start craning its virtual ears to make out that oh-so-familiar tune. It's also possible to get musical suggestions based on what's currently playing and to stream music from the mobile web using a service called PlayNow. The idea here is that you listen to a song and get so attached to it (or spend a fortune streaming it), that you then shell out £3 to buy it outright.

You can subscribe to podcasts, get RSS feeds of news stories and other items including thumbnail images. These are accessible in the web feeds menu under the Walkman options.

Another curiosity about the Sony Ericsson W980 - but one we liked - was Walk Mate. This is a movement tracker that offers the ability to keep track of how far we'd walked or run in a day - a nice use of the haptics of this phone.

NEXT PAGE: the Sony Ericsson W980 as a camera, text entry and maps

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

The Sony Ericsson W980 is an astoundingly good consumer phone that is beautifully finished, offers that all-important haptic interface to give it a real edge, a full 8GB of onboard memory and some well designed features.

On the photo front, you can tag and roughly edit images, adding effects such as sepia or turning a snap into a cartoon, changing the colour balance and the brightness and contrast. You can then send your original or edited photo to a photo sharing or blogging site or send it by MMS or email to a friend. You can also rotate - useful if you want to use it as the wallpaper on the Sony Ericsson W980.

You can take photos and capture video even while listening to tracks - the song simply fades while you complete the process. Head to the Entertainment menu (from the Sony Ericsson W980's main phone menu) and you'll also find an audio recorder along with a PhotoDJ, a VideoDJ and more.

Phone calls are initiated and ended by some very tiny buttons either side of the main three-ring hardware navigation buttons on the inside of the SSony Ericsson W980. Navigating the contacts menu and entering predictive text messages wasn't quite as nippy a process as we'd expected - this is one area where the W980 betrays itself as a consumer phone for the text-savvy kids. However, this probably says more about us than anything since we're more used to the more forgiving smartphone keypads with qwerty or two-character-per-key entry.

If you find the text entry method easy to get to grips with, you'll relish the fact that the Sony Ericsson W980 has an email option as well as SMS and MMS messaging.

Maps are better than you might think for what is a consumer-entertainment phone. Google Maps quickly load up and show you a familiar brightly coloured map of your current location, accurate to a few hundred metres. In practice, the Sony Ericsson W980 all but had PC Advisor's office location nailed: even from within the building (with no ability to lock on to satellites in the open skies), it knew a few hundred metres west of Kings Cross.

When we subsequently used the Sony Ericsson W980's 3 and 1 keypad buttons to zoom in and view the satellite imagery of our locale, we found we could pick out our building (and the larger landmarks of St Pancras and the British Library) in real detail.

Maps can be used to head from point to point only, but if you need directions to a specific place and don't even know where you are to begin with, you'll find this feature very useful. We were using only a regular phone SIM - not a 3G one - but still found this feature usable and relatively fast. On contract for around £35 a month (assuming you want the phone and web access for free), you'll get a 3G SIM.

NEXT PAGE: images, and our expert verdict

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

The Sony Ericsson W980 is an astoundingly good consumer phone that is beautifully finished, offers that all-important haptic interface to give it a real edge, a full 8GB of onboard memory and some well designed features.

Sony Ericsson

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

OUR VERDICT

While there are one or two aspects of the Sony Ericsson W980 that we found a little tricksy – primarily the fact that when you've been grooving along to the latest top tunes and unplug the earphones from the phone, it continues to blare out the songs (unless you've asked it not to) – embarrassing in front of the 'kids' on the bus – our abiding impression of this phone is it's a fantastic piece of gadgetry to be seen with. It has an excellent quality music player with more than enough storage space and a sufficiently well-designed media manager to make it worth your while ditching a separate MP3 player in favour of this. It's also a refreshingly strong phone in its photo, video and online blogging and mapping functions. The Sony Ericsson W980 proves you don't need to have a chunky Nokia handset to get good navigation features, decent connectivity and enjoyable blogging, podcast and other web-based joys.

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