For all practical purposes: Sony Ericsson W800i

Mikey 19 comments
For all practical purposes: Sony Ericsson W800i

The timing could not have been more perfect. I was in the market for an MP3 player although the thought of carrying around said hardware and my mobile phone was not pleasant. My partner and I received a letter from our phone carrier advising we can upgrade our phones. I checked out the available phones and noticed the Sony Ericsson W800i; which is being pimped by Sony as the first real world practical attempt at combining a mobile phone with a high quality MP3 player.

A little research soon sold me on the idea, as every review I read gave the W800i top marks. After using the phone for several days now, I concur with the general consensus. So here is my review for the Sony Ericsson W800i.

Package contents

  • Sony Ericsson W800i Handset
  • 512MB Memory Stick PRO Duo
  • Memory Stick adaptor
  • Memory Stick adaptor case
  • Li-ion Battery
  • Ear buds
  • Ear bud adapter (for use with any standard headphones)
  • Data Cable
  • Headphone cable yank prevention
  • CD-Rom
  • User Manual

First thoughts

The orange/cream form factor is nice eye candy and different to anything else on the market, although it does resemble previous Sony Ericsson models. It is hard to believe there is so much in such a small phone, with half a gig of ram and a 2 megapixel digital camera.

The Li-ion Battery slotted in easily and charging took around 2.5 hours. When fully charged and switched on you are prompted to choose between using the handset with full functionality or as a dedicated MP3 player (with phone functions disabled). This prompt appears every time you restart the phone.

The handset is solidly constructed and any fear I had of damaging it due to mishandling (spelled 'dropping from a great height') was quickly forgotten.

The screen

Wow. The screen is one of the best I have seen on a mobile device, rivalling that of any Pocket PC, albeit a smaller resolution at 176 x 220. Extremely vibrant and the text is clearly readable thanks to some good use of font styling. Images and video are both clear and crisp.

Keypad and controls

My only real complaint with the phone is with the keypad, which for reasons unbeknownst to everyone except the phone architects; believe our primary appendages resemble that of a 5 year old child's.

The numeric keys are nearly flush with the body of the phone and are spaced less than 1mm apart horizontally, although there is clearly enough room to space them at least 2 mm apart. But in the mobile phone world aesthetics often override practical functionality.

Primary buttons

Above the keypad are larger more prominent buttons, used for navigating and operating the interface. A small controller sits between them which is used in a similar fashion to a joystick, but with only 4 directions. The controller is a little too small for my thumbs (and I have small thumbs!) but my veteran Sony Ericsson using colleagues assure me I will get used to this and wonder how I ever got by before without it. Until then, I'll fumble my way around.

Surrounding controls

The top left of the phone has a pause/play button for starting/stopping music and video and on the opposite side is the volume up/down controls. This placement was a little annoying when using one hand to operate the controls, as when I go to change volume my thumb has to rest on the opposite side and I found I constantly pressed the pause button instead. Sitting just below is the button to record video and photos. The power button is located in the top right and is sunken to avoid accidental activation. The back of the phone has a quick release slider which exposes the camera lens.

The still camera

Simply the best camera I have seen in a mobile phone and at 2 megapixel quality to boot. Sure it's a far cry from the 5 megapixel models we are all used to, but this is contained within the confines of a very small phone, and the image quality is good enough for print.

Several options are available including image size, quality, light, night mode, shoot mode, self timer, effects, storage location and you can even enable marco for close up photography. The video camera records smoothly and has the same options available.

Picture and video quality is amazing for a phone. Click here for a real world example (not a preconceived setup marketing still) I took this morning. Just point and click.

One thing I did notice when using the camera is it actually feels like you are using a camera, not like using a phone with a camera. You rotate it left 90 degrees and the LCD becomes your viewing screen and the push button is on top and lens out front - just like a conventional camera.

The video camera

Once again this is impressive. Frame rates and image quality are far better than your average mobile phone but I would not entertain the idea of replacing my Sony MiniDV camera.

The Walkman not dead. Using the provided Disc to Phone software, music files can easily be transferred to the handset memory card. You specify a bitrate if you want to reduce those 196kbps MP3's to 128kbps for smaller file size.

Something I did discover is that the audio player gathers data from the ID2 tags embedded in the music files, so if they are not set up correctly, you may have difficulty finding them where you expected. This is because of the nature in which the Walkman displays the music, which is in the Artists, Tracks and Albums format. The actual file name of your MP3's are ignored in favour of the IDs tags.

Google to the rescue and I easily located a free IDtag editing program and sorted out the naming of my files, uploaded to the handset and the Walkman instantly had my Queens of the Stone age and Foo Fighters organised correctly.

Unsurprisingly the audio playback is superb (this is Sony after all) using the supplied high quality ear buds, which incidentally also function as a hands free set. There are several EQ presets but you can also manually change the 5 band sliders. Bass response is amazingly deep but the high end seems average. Having said that, I do actually suffer from Tinnitus which has inhibited my ability to detect high-end frequencies as easily as I used to, so the Walkman may not be at fault here.

Worth mentioning is the quality of the ear buds. Headphones have always been of concern to me as I always find them uncomfortable enough to distract me from the music. Maybe I have small ears? I have never really put any more thought into it. But these are not like your conventional earphones which rely on pressing against your ear to stay on place. Instead they are small enough to fall further into your ear canal and consequently block out all outside noise, leaving nothing but the audible delight of Ulrich Shnauss. Now if they could invent Tinnitus noise cancelling headphones I would be even more impressed.

Radio reception is only possible with the ear buds plugged in as the cable is used as an antenna. I was quickly able to locate Triple J (99.3) and assign it as a favourite station. If there were any other radio stations worth listening to I would have programmed them, but alas there is not.

Video playback

This impressed me a lot. Using any standard video to 3PG converter, I was able to load several full length episodes of The Simpsons and Blackadder using a higher than normal bitrate of 256,000kpbs at 25frames per second. Playback was as smooth as can be. As the W800i can clearly play back video so nicely, it is a mystery why its video capture can not be as nice.

Games and applications

2 games are preinstalled (Puzzle Slider and Qud Drop) and load quickly and play smoothly. Using the data cable I was able to upload several more free games and applications sourced from Google. These installed with minimal fuss.

Overall impression

Although far from an iPod killer, the Sony Ericsson W800i is one impressive piece of kit. And for people like me who are content to carry around only 150 songs or a couple of full length movies, this is more than adequate. If you want more, slap in a larger memory card. With all your phone and media needs in a single impressive package, Sony has a clear winner on their hands.


  • Compact, light and stylish
  • 512mb storage right out of the box
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • Good quality video camera
  • Quality ear buds
  • Amazing audio quality
  • Vibrant colour screen
  • Intuitive interface
  • Bluetooth, Infrared and USB connectivity
  • Excellent software and documentation
  • USB data cable also charges the handset


  • Proprietary Sony memory duo only
  • Thumb control a little small
  • Numeric keypad not physically defined enough
  • Curious play/pause and volume up/down button positioning
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Friday 28th October 2005 | 01:13 PM

Your wish...." target="_blank">Neuromonics Invented by a couple of Perth scientists. I just wish I could afford it.... Now..perhaps jabbing scissors in my ears will help! :P

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Wednesday 9th November 2005 | 09:45 PM

My bro got this phone too. I am jealous. The sound is excellent.

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Thursday 10th November 2005 | 04:16 AM

Just bought this phone, it does so much for the size. Also SE phones are much more reliable than Nokia, I've still got my T610, works fine & it's been abused! I got through 2 Nokias in a year, too flimsy. The other goodthing about the W800i is the flash is really bright.

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Thursday 10th November 2005 | 02:50 PM

Oh yes the light - wow! I think there was speculation the phone might ship with welding goggles.

But seriosuly, I am loving this phone. The battery life is something I didn't metion in the review but so far it has been outstanding.

One other qualm I have though is the shutter lag on the camera. But who can really complain with 2 megapixels packed into such a small form factor.

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Friday 9th December 2005 | 03:25 AM

Lads top site so rare to find such an objective view nowadays

thanks for all the info on this phone was worried bout buying it as it costs 499euro here in ireland but you got me gagging for it to be in my pocket i'll be sure to let you know what i think of it on monday

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Saturday 10th December 2005 | 08:53 PM

Thanks for the compliment Patrick! Be sure to let us know what you think of the phone. I doubt you will be disappointed. I know a few other people with the phone now who think it brilliant too.

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Monday 9th January 2006 | 11:52 PM

Oh man this is a must have the quality is incredible for such a compact phone i also like the way it uses the same mem. sticks as the psp so larger sticks are so easy to get your hands on thank you sony you got it bang on for once.

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Monday 9th January 2006 | 11:59 PM

ps sorry for delay had a bit of trouble getting it i ask  why advertise when you don't have it ? lol at least i got it eventually

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Wednesday 11th January 2006 | 12:09 PM

Hi Patrik. Glad you finally got your phone :-) Yeah Sony seem to have got it right with this phone. The">W900i has already been released but doesn't seem to offer anything different apart from a new form factor, a clumsy looking audio controller built into the headphone cable and additional camera lens on the front. I would not swap my W800i for anything :-)

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Monday 6th February 2006 | 03:37 AM

can anyone give me eny good links for 3pg videos by green day or eny links for eny good movies coz i cant find eny so frustrating

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Monday 6th February 2006 | 03:38 AM

i recently won the sony ericsson fone and i would not swap it for enythin it is the best fone eva it is so kl :)

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Monday 6th February 2006 | 10:03 AM

Hi Sarah,
If you already have vidos on your PC, avi, mpg or what ever, you can use a program called">PV Author to easily convert them to 3pg format for playback on the w800i. It is a 30 day trial with no other limitations. I have converted some video myself and it outputs great quality. The 30 day limit is only on the software, not the 3pg videos you create.

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Tuesday 14th March 2006 | 10:35 AM

Guys and girls,

Does anyone have additional sample pictures to publish (link to), taken by the W800i camera? What picture quality can I expect? I am especially interested in knowing what the (auto) focus is like, and if the focus is even over the entire picture?

Any help would be appreciated.

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Wednesday 15th March 2006 | 01:31 AM

Hi Per,
I will endevour to take a few tommorow for you and post them here.
So far I have found the quality to be good for a phone, but only under good conditions. Low light produces mixed results, whereas good light (outdoor) is actually pretty good.
Stay tuned...

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Wednesday 15th March 2006 | 09:37 PM

Hi Per,

Some photos as promised. Click on an image below to see the full size version. I have not altered these in any way, other than optimising them for web view. So you can expect the real quality to be slightly better. FYI the images were taken on the high quality setting, which outputs images at 1632 x 1224 @ 72dpi.">" border="0">">" border="0">">" border="0">">" border="0">

As I have told people in the past, until mobile phone cameras are in the realm of 5 megapixel and higher, and have optical zoom, good colour correction and limited lens distortion, they are not intended to be a substitute for a 'real' digital camera.

Hope these help.

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Stuart Reid

Tuesday 4th April 2006 | 01:23 AM

Hi, I have a K750i just the same as the K800i but u dont get the 512mb memory. I have been reading the comments on the site.... with paticular intrest to the comments on changing the format of videos on your pc to work on the phone. I have downloaded the free trial but it does not even find the files on my pc... It finds all the videos on my phone but that's as usefull as an ashtray on a motorbike. Is there anything you can tell me to help.

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Tuesday 4th April 2006 | 08:52 AM

Hi Stuart,
I am not sure what you mean by "does not even find the files on my pc", but I am guessing you mean when you click BROWSE on the input screen, you don't see any of your movie files? By default, it should be looking for "all  media types" which is actually mpg, mpeg, avi, wav or mp3. As far as I kow, these are the only file types PVAuthor supports but I can not imaging you would have videos in any other format - unless they are quicktime, real or wmv. But to try these anyway, in the FILE NAME field that appears when you click BROWSE, type in *.* and press enter, and you will see all of your files. Then try selecting one of them and see if it lets you import it.
I hope this helps.

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Sunday 2nd July 2006 | 03:44 PM

*drool* judging from all the reviews i've read (many many many) this phone sounds great. costs a pretty penny though. oh well; can't wait til its in my pocket. =) thanks for the info                .. my comment seems a bit late.

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Sunday 24th September 2006 | 10:34 AM

I've had this phone about a month's one fo the gives you everything you need everywhere.

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