A replacement for the W580 with 3G and GPS that faces a tougher field. (November 17th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson
Price: $130 (two years, AT&T); Rogers N/A
- Better build quality and controls.
- 3G, GPS improve speed and navigation.
- Still a good music phone in software.
- Good call quality.
- UIQ simple, effective, and improved.
- Pricing is steep for the actual feature set.
- 3G reduces practical battery life.
- Proprietary headset/data jack.
- Earbuds a step down from the W580.
- Access NetFront still a sub-par web browser at this price.
The W580 has been a staple of GSM phone carriers ever since it was released simply because it does most things well (including music) at a low-enough price. Still, there were definite limitations, and the device now has a RAZR-like overabundance that signals a time for something new. The W760 promises to check off some the remaining flaws -- including the addition of 3G -- but also faces a tougher cellphone market. Sony Ericsson's ultimate challenge may be less to improve the device and more to consider the roles of the devices themselves.
design and controls
The similarities between the W580 and the W760 are apparent almost immediately. While there are of course minor design changes, the button layout and overall choices make no mistake that the W760 is at least a spiritual successor to Sony Ericsson's favorite mid-range phone.
It's nonetheless evident that the company's engineers haven't been silent in the past year. Overall, the phone feels much more tightly built than the W580, with a more solid construction and larger buttons that are easier to hit. The keypad is particularly improved. Gone are the smaller and potentially breakable buttons in favor of a flush pad that's both more reliable and easier to hit. The dedicated Walkman button for launching the media player has thoughtfully been moved to the side, where it doesn't interfere with regular phone controls but is still close enough to be convenient.
There are still a few flawed points or even steps backwards. While the phone notably totes some GPS features, Sony Ericsson has unfortunately decided to promote it above the camera as a directional pad shortcut. Unfortunately, most users are more likely to want quick photo snapping over navigation, and it's now the case that it will take at least two or three clicks to get to the camera.
Likewise, despite fitting into the Walkman brand, the W760 is still unfortunately saddled with Sony Ericsson's proprietary side port for handling both data and charging. You're stuck if you should ever lose the bundled cables, and they undoubtedly take up unnecessary space on the phone. A 3.5mm earphone adapter is included in the box and is appreciated, but quickly creates problems for anyone using a personal pair of earbuds or headphones with a long cable. Sony Ericsson is overdue to adopt mini USB and, preferably, 3.5mm audio jacks on devices that are billed as media savvy -- an adapter is less and less acceptable when small phones like the BlackBerry Pearl find room for them.
This wouldn't be as much of a problem if it weren't for a regression in the earbuds. The W580 was graced with some in-canal earbuds that, while not quite audiophile level, sounded genuinely good and were comfortable. Sony Ericsson only packs in a set of conventional over-the-ear buds. They're both more likely to be overly loose-fitting and to sound worse as a result. A quick listen will drive you to better earbuds and partly defeats the point of getting a media phone.