Sony Ericsson W580i Review

It has been a while since I've had a new phone to review but this one is a special one. Unlike my most recently reviews, this isn't a Nokia - it's a Sony Ericsson. When my mom was ready to replace her aging Motorola V3 RAZR which was having a difficult time holding a charge, I looked at the best cheap phone she could get. Since she was on Rogers and her contract had been up for a while, the best place was to get a phone on contract. My mom isn't big on e-mail or browsing the web so a smartphone would overcomplicate things for her. There were a few Motorola flips and Nokia flips that didn't even look as nice as the RAZR - as you can tell, she's big on asthetics. But she spotted a pink thin slider that sparked her interest - namely the W580i.

The firmware on my W580i is R8BE001 (the initial Rogers production firmware). The box contains the phone, Sony Ericsson Battery BST-38 900 mAh, travel charger CST-60, USB data cable, Sony Ericsson Stereo Headset HPM-70, 512MB Memory Stick Micro card, and Sony Ericsson CD with utilities and programs


The W580i is a very sleek thin slider running Sony Ericsson's proprietary OS.

Quick facts:
Name: Sony Ericsson W580i
Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Weight: 94 g
Dimensions: 99 x 47 x 14 mm
Battery life (stand by): 370 hours
Battery life (talk): 540 minutes

My phone was manufactured in: (your phone's country of manufacture could vary) Malaysia.

The W580i opened:


There are no keys on the right of the phone. The left side has a very recessed volume rocker which is hard to push since it's so thin. The top has a very recessed black power button on the keypad half that is difficult to push when the phone is opened.

Aesthetics
The W580i is a beautiful phone in pink. Unlike most manufacturer's who just change the faceplate and call it a new colour (like Nokia and RIM), SE has gone all the way with pink LEDs behind the D-pad and number pad, shiny pink plastic between the keys in the number pad, and a pink headset. A really great job by SE.

The W580i is a lot better looking than Nokia's 5610. SE did a lot better job in the use of colors.

The sides of the phone have very little grip so I push the slide from the bottom to open the slider.

Side featuring the LED:

Although it's a little tacky for a business phone, the LED looks OK for a personal phone

Opening the slider will automatically unlock the keyboard while closing the slider will display the lock option for the center, after a couple seconds of being closed the phone will auto key lock (change this at menu > settings >phone > automatic keyguard). Auto keyguard does not apply when the slider is open.

Sony Ericsson W580i to the Nokia E71

A good sized screen that keeps up with the big boys

Sony Ericsson W580i to the Motorola V3 RAZR

The W580i is impressively thin and definitely pocketable.

The sim card holder is not good with just a slot. Taking out the SIM is tricky as you need to push it in and slide:


The W580i has a creaks all over when you push on it from any two sides. The battery cover slid off a couple times so we had to tape it to the phone.

Display
The screen is a good size and resolution is at 240 x 320 pixels (2 inches) and can display up to 262,144 (18-bit) colors. But a major problem is the very slow refresh rate causing a lot of ghosting.


The W580i keypad is well lit with lighting even coming from the sides:


The W580i is recessed but fully exposed with no layer of glass or plastic to protect the LCD.

Keyboard

Upper half featuring the soft keys and D-pad:


Lower half featuring the number pad:



The raised outer rim around the D-pad makes pushing any direction difficult without using your nails. The soft keys are wobbly and don't feel very accurate in differentiating between the top and bottom buttons. The W810i soft keys feel a lot better than the W580i even though they are laid out the same. The bottom of the soft keys (back and C keys) are very close to the Walkman and task buttons making them feel odd pressing them.

The number pad is flush with the lower part of the phone without the usual notches on the number 3 so it's hard to dial without looking. The buttons are large enough for midsized fingers. The bottom set of keys are really close to the rim of the phone so they can be tricky to press.

There is a known issue with earlier W580i in green that had cracking keypads due to the paint used. Luckily this phone hasn't had that problem yet after a couple months of use.

In hand

The W580i is a good size and comfortable to hold

Software
As i mentioned before, the W580i runs SE's proprietary OS. There are very little Rogers customizations like the left and right softkey can't be changed so it's stuck as Calls and Roger's music player.

The phone feels slow within the menus but the music/video player was more smooth and faster than the 5310.

Not much is different between the old W810i and the W580i so you can refer to my W810i review for details on the software.

Reception
The W580i supports all 4 GSM frequencies for world roaming.

Sound Quality
I experienced some problems with voice cutting in and out but none of my calls were dropped. Audio is loud enough but didn't increase enough in loud environments.

The Rogers firmware prevents you from using any MP3 as a ringtone. You must first DRM the MP3 using SE software or purchase MP3 ringtunes from Rogers.

Speakerphone
The W580i has loud speakers with no bass. The audio quality is not as good as the stronger W810i speakers. It also only plays mono through the speakers.

Headset use
The W580i sales package includes a stereo headset (color matching in pink too!) for the W580i's SE proprietary port. The 5610 also supports Bluetooth stereo headsets through A2DP but I wasn't able to test this.


Multimedia Features

Camera
The W580i has a 2MP (1600 x 1200 pixels) camera

The camera is protected by a plastic cover that's hidden when the camera is closed.

UI:

Since the W580i isn't a Cybershot, it uses the traditional SE camera UI with limited support for shortcuts and very little options.

The only other 2MP camera phone I have available is the venerable W810i. The main advantage of the W810i is its autofocus but it does take a longer time to take a photo since you can't disable autofocus and must wait for the focus.

Close up (W580i / W810i with macro)

Without autofocus, the W580i cannot get a sharp image of the grapefruit. The background cup looks sharp however. Colors are pale on the W580i but much too warm on the W810i.

Macro (W580i / W810i with macro)

Without macro mode, the W580i cannot focus and produces really bad photos. The W580i tries to mask this problem with blurring the noise. The W810i has noticeable noise but sharp.

Dim (W580i with nightmode/ W810i with nightmode)

The W580i produced much more noise than the W810i but attempts to hide it with aggressive use of blurring.

Daylight (W580i / W810i)

Surprisingly the W580i produced a warmer and sharper photo than the W810i if you look at the cars. However the W580i still uses a little more blurring so the bricks are not as clear as the W810i. I prefer the photo with the W580i in this instance.

The photos produced by the W580i uses too much blurring to hide noise in all cases. There were no unreasonable shutter delay as those found on mid-ranged Nokia photos such as the 5610. Photo saving also takes a reasonable amount of space unlike the 6 seconds of the 5610.

The W580i camera produces impressive results in the daylight but the lack of autofocus and macro limits its use in close up photos. The W580i doesn't have a flash LED so you can't take photos in darkness.


External Memory
A 512MB memory card is included in the W580i. The memory card is accessible without opening the battery cover.

Battery
Battery is good but not impressive. The W580i lasts 3.5 days from full charge. Without a SIM card or placing the phone in flight mode, the phone lasted 5 days without a charge.

Ratings:
Performance...........6
Build quality...........8
Keypad...................6
Connectivity...............3
Features for $.........8 (Rogers $29.99 for 2 years)
Software................8
Camera..................8
Battery life.............4

Overall.....................7


PROS:
*Attractive exterior design
*Flexible SE OS
*Great build quality
*Decent camera images

CONS:
*Slow menu navigation
*No autofocus or macro mode in camera
*No 3G support.
*Complicated menu system
*No 3.5mm headset jack
*cheap battery cover

Overall the W580i is a great mid-ranged phone with a very compelling design and decent build quality. The W580i produces shockingly great images from its non-autofocus 2MP camera. The sluggish UI can be frustating to some people. I had some call quality issues but phone always reports full bars with the Rogers network in Toronto.
Sony Ericsson W580i Review Sony Ericsson W580i Review Reviewed by Eric on 3/22/2009 Rating: 5

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