Product Review: Sony Ericsson W960 mobile phone

22 Jan 2008

For a mobile phone to be ultimately successful in the mass market, there are three things which need to be achieved. First, good, attractive, design – it must have the wow factor. Secondly, the device must have an operating system people will find easy to use. And thirdly, it must sport nifty technology that sets it apart from the pack.

Sony Ericsson’s W960 is a brilliant effort but sadly ticks only two of the above three boxes in this writer’s opinion. It is being trumpeted as the company’s competitor to the Apple iPhone, rumoured to be hitting these shores in March, and this is a claim not without merit.

In the past year, Sony Ericsson has really pumped the gas on innovation, bringing out a dizzying array of bright, attractive consumer and business devices. In particular, we are witnessing strong use of Sony’s Walkman music player technology, as well as brave, ground-breaking camera technology of 3.2-megapixel and even 5-megapixel on mobile phones.

Allied with this is a consistent operating system on Sony Ericsson devices that will attract enduring loyalty. This has been a key factor in Nokia’s success, for example.

However Apple, with its iconic iPhone, has changed everything in terms of phone design. Everything is touchscreen and expect to see phone makers like Sony Ericsson and Samsung step up to the mark.

While the Sony Ericsson W960 comes with an easy-to-use operating system, a vivid 3.2-megapixel camera and some 8GB of storage (ideal for up to 5,000 or 6,000 songs), 3G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, it doesn’t tick the box in terms of design.

For all the spear-heading technology it employs, it isn’t an attractive-looking device. My partner, for example, as I took the W960 from its box pointed at my Blackberry and said it was identical. She wasn’t wrong.

The device is matt black with a white stripe running down the sides. Functional, but not attractive.

The W960’s design belies what is actually an incredible piece of technology. While its 8GB of storage is equivalent to the Apple iPhone, it is a 3G device while the iPhone isn’t. It also sports Wi-Fi for broadband and its 3.2-megapixel camera is superior to the iPhone’s 2.0-megapixel camera.

Unfortunately, the W960 just looks like an ordinary, non-descript mobile phone. Even though it has a touchscreen, there is still a traditional keypad.

My first instinct is that Sony Ericsson is on the road to greatness with its device technology but the W960 strikes me as a rushed job in terms of design. It is neither pristine nor elegant.

If you are a mobile user who is astute enough to value performance over appearance, then this is probably one of the best multimedia devices in the market right now.

But, if you’re fickle and prefer to sport a gadget with the wow factor to outdo the iPhone, wait until Sony Ericsson dresses this device up.

Pros: 8GB of memory and 3.2 megapixel camera

Cons: Underwhelming design

Price: TBC

By John Kennedy