Back to homepageSearch the whole websiteVisit's own mobile phone store for great deals3G phone reviews and the latest 3G phones here3G Forum for help and advice about all things 3GAll about 3G in the UK - latest news and phonesAll about 3G around the world - latest news and phonesAll about 4G - news and latest developmentsAll about WiMax - latest news and developments
Sony Ericsson W550i Phone Review

Cllick for large photoWhen Sony Ericsson launched the W800i earlier this year with the help of Jay Kay, it made it clear that it would be the first of many Walkman-branded music handsets. The W550i and 3G-enabled W900i look set to be number’s two and three in the range.

Like the W800i, the W550i has that distinctive burnt orange finish, which has now become synonymous with the Walkman brand, but, while the W800i carried a subtle orange trim, our review version of the new W550 looks like it has really been tangoed. But, if that’s a little bit much for you there is a silver or a blue option to choose from.

The phone is a little bulkier than its elder candy-bar sibling and features a swivel-design, incorporating a covered keypad, which is revealed by rotating the fascia 180 degrees.

It looks and feels a lot like Sony Ericsson’s dual-fronted S700i, which is designed to appear very much like a phone from one side and a camera from another.

Cllick for large photoThe phone rotates into position a little stubbornly, but with a satisfying clunk and you’ll notice that the base of the phone is designed to curve subtly upwards at the top so that the screen is tilted slightly towards the user.

The keypad glows bright orange while the phone is in use, which is a kitsch effect intended for younger users, as is the bar at the bottom of the phone, which can be used to attach a lanyard, so the W550i can be worn as well as carried.

Open the box and you’ll find: a set of stereo headphones; Disc2Phone software which lets you transfer your CDs to your phone via your PC; a supplied USB cable; and 256MB of internal memory, which lets users store around 80 tracks. Unfortunately, there is no expandable memory on the W550i, which is something of an oversight for a music device and definitely marks the phone down.

If you’re in the mood to share your music with others, the W550i features stereo speakers on the side ands the back of the phone, as well as a Mega Bass option, supposedly designed for that ‘bigger sound’.

Personally, we’d stick to the less sociable stereo headphones, because music via the speakers is a little tinny and grating and you’re in danger of coming across like a chav in a souped-up Mazda.

The phone also features Sony Ericsson’s Play Now entertainment download service which lets you easily sample and download ringtones and the latest games. Also on board is an FM radio RDS, which enables digital text feeds to be sent out by the radio stations, which appear in the FM radio screen on your phone. It’s basically a form of visual radio.

Cllick for large photoAt 1.3 megapixels, the camera on the W550i is a little less powerful than the two megapixel version found on both the W800i and the W900i, but it takes pretty good snaps. The camera is really rather satisfying to use, thanks to the side-mounted dedicated camera key, which allows you to hold the phone and take pictures as you would with a digital camera.

New Sony Ericsson phones feature a really useful settings bar when in camera mode, so by clicking the settings soft key you can scroll through a bar which enables you to control a range of camera features, including: video; shoot mode; picture size; night mode; extra light; self timer; effects; white balance; picture quality and shutter sound.

When the phone is set in video mode, you get a good idea of the phone’s bright 262,000-colour display, which also enhances the phone’s other multimedia features like the games experience.

The built-in games on the W550i, incidentally, are an impressive bunch, thanks to some sharp 3D graphics and include Extreme Air Snowboarding, Gauntlet and Worms Forts 3.

All in all, it’s a very capable phone, full of features and easy to use.

Aside from the expandable memory-or lack of it, our only real issue with the W550i concerns voice calls, which are admittedly a fairly important function. On a number of occasions, we made a voice call on the W550 and attempted to finish it by rotating the phone shut. Unfortunately, the call remained active while the phone was shut, so the call recipient could hear us ordering our lunch and getting on with our daily grind long after we thought the call was over. A touch embarrassing.

This review covers the above mobile phone only and does not address the performance of any 3G Network. The score is based on a 3G mobile phone checklist.

Copyright : You are advised that this material is the copyright of and is our own personal view only. (C) All rights reserved 2005. Whist every care has been taken in the preparation of this review, the author nor cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or authenticity of the information it contains, or consequence arising from it.

Tango Mango
Best features
Walkman media player
Mega bass and stereo widening
Stereo headset
1.3 megapixel camera
Spec details
Int. Display
262,000 colours 176 x 220 pixels
1.3 Mega Pixel Camera
Video recording / playback
Audio playback
Bluetooth, InfraRed, USB
Internal memory
256 MB
Memory card slot
Extreme Air Snowboarding, Gauntlet, Worms Forts 3
SMS, EMS, MMS, Email
Email client
Tri-band.900 / 1800 / 1900
480 mins
375 hours
Quirky design and great music features.
No expandable memory for storing more music.
A touch less capable than the W800i but still great fun.
3G Total Score
Check out this handset at 3G's own store
The bright orange W550i is no shrinking violet and with a fine set of music and camera features, it’s destined to make a big noise.