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.
general interface, GPS, and web browsing
In the non-smartphone class, Electronista has always been partial to the UIQ interface on most Sony Ericsson phones, and not without reason. It's not advanced, but it's very visual and organized well enough that a moderately experienced user can find a setting without the guesswork needed on some operating systems. That advantage carries over here, and it's hard to truly complain given the phone's focus.
Assisted GPS is new to this phone and is appreciated, though the options provided by most carriers will be fairly limited, The W760 carries both a bundled mobile version of Google Maps as well as the carrier's choice of navigation software. The former isn't iPhone-grade and isn't suited as a full GPS replacement, but does the trick for basic mapping.; the latter is more advanced, but requires a monthly fee. Both are still dependent on having an active Internet connection and so are useful more for local driving than replacing a stand-alone unit from Garmin or TomTom.
Runners might be pleased to know that there's a built-in app known as Tracker that uses GPS to calculate distance traveled and the exercise gained. It's more accurate than Nike+iPod and includes routes, though without the deeper online integration for long-term goals it's more handy than a central feature.
Web browsing is, unsurprisingly, still very basic. Access NetFront is pitched as a "full" browser and does support some web video, but it still renders non-mobile pages inaccurately and is more there in a pinch than as a constant tool. Adding 3G just means that pages load more quickly. Given the browser's limitations, the extra speed mainly proves a help for phone-optimized sites like Twitter's mobile page than a cure-all.
One thoughtful touch added since the last review is a new gateway screen for common web tasks, like Google searches, the browser history or RSS feeds. In the case of a strictly non-touch phone such as this, the welcome page is more a boon than a bane and results in quicker access to favorite sites. It won't overcome the inherent limitations of this class of phone, but it does smooth out the experience.