The W300i is a light (3.3 ounces), slightly chubby (3.5 by 1.8 by 1-inch) little flip phone, with a loop antenna that serves to prop it up when it's sitting on a table. On the outside is an orange-and-black, text-only display that shows the time, date, and caller ID information. Above the screen is a flashless VGA camera with a little self-portrait mirror. On the side of the handset, dedicated music controls let you play/pause, fast-forward, or rewind through music in the phone's Walkman music player. Pop off the back cover to find a slot for a Sony M2 memory card. (Cingular doesn't include one, though.)
Flipping open the phone reveals a bright-enough, if low-res, 128-by-160 screen and a keypad of oddly shaped keys—they appear to overlap, so each key is like a circle with a little chunk cut out of it. Because the keys are also very flat, there's a bit more danger of mistyping. The cursor pad, on the other hand, has a perfectly normal shape and size.
The W300i is the least-expensive Walkman phone to date. Along with an easy-to-use music player, it comes with a USB cable and PC software to help you easily transfer your MP3 or AAC format music files over to the phone. Fortunately, the handset supports USB 2.0, so moving music onto the W300i is much faster than it is on, say, the much maligned Motorola ROKR E1. The phone still doesn't sync directly with any popular PC jukebox programs, unlike Verizon's V Cast Music phones. That said, the V Cast Music client is slow as molasses compared with Sony's snappy little player.
The sound quality is just terrific, bright and clear through Sony's included earbuds (a notch above the usual buds that come with cell phones) or through any pair of standard music-player headphones hooked up to the included adapter. There's also a built-in FM radio, for use with wired headsets.
I'll boo Sony for using the extremely obscure M2 memory card format instead of the more popular MicroSD, though. The largest M2 cards, at 1GB, cost $50, which is roughly the same price as MicroSD cards, though MicroSD cards go up to 2GB.
As a quad-band world phone, the W300i is top-notch. Sound quality and reception are both excellent, whether through the earpiece, speakerphone, or wired or Bluetooth headsets. The speakerphone could be louder, but it's acceptable. Voice dialing is the old-fashioned, recorded-tag type. The battery is terrific, with 12 hours of tested talk time.
I'm glad to report that the W300i supports a very wide range of Bluetooth profiles, including file transfer, remote control, and using the phone as a PC modem—but notably, not stereo Bluetooth for music playback. The free Sony Ericsson PC Suite software helps you transfer files, hook up the modem functionality, and sync contacts and calendars with your PC. You can also hook the phone up to Macs, via either Bluetooth or USB cable, to transfer files, send address cards, and use the phone as a modem. Download speeds, averaging 107 Kbps, were safely in the range of the Class 10 EDGE modem.
Like most Sony Ericsson phones, the W300i has excellent Java performance for its price range, though I suspect that the low-res screen raised its gaming benchmark-test scores. The 20MB of available memory is plenty for games and applications. I tested an unlocked model bought directly from Sony Ericsson, so applications such as Opera Mini work fine. I'd expect Cingular to block unapproved Opera installations, but one Cingular-approved application that would go well with the W300i's music focus is Melodeo Mobilcast, which also worked well on the phone, though the speakerphone volume could have been louder. (On some phones, Mobilecast won't even play through the speaker.) Cingular also adds an IM client to the phone that can handle AIM, Yahoo!, ICQ, and MSN Messenger accounts.
VGA cameras like the one on the W300i are basically novelties nowadays; anyone serious about camera phone use gets a 1.3-megapixel model. That said, the W300i's camera takes slightly grainy, overexposed shots but doesn't get overpowered by backlighting, the way many camera phones do. The video mode is fine, taking 176-by-144 resolution videos at 10 frames per second, as long as you have space on the card.
The Sony Ericsson W300i offers a little more than other Cingular phones in its price range. Its music capabilities, especially, are unusual in a phone so heavily discounted, and they come on a very good voice phone. Although the W300i isn't perfect (we'd like the speakerphone, especially, to be a little louder), it's the best value you're going to get on Cingular today, and worthy of our Editors' Choice as a midrange phone for that carrier.
SPEC DATA :
Internal 262k TFT Colour Screen (128 x 160 Pixels)
External Monochrome Screen (101 x 80 Pixels)
4 x Digital Zoom
Macromedia Flash Lite™
SVG Tiny 1.1
SMS (Text Messaging)
MMS (Multimedia Messaging)
Music Tones (MP3/AAC)
Polyphonic Ringtones (40 Voice)
Business Card Exchange
USB Mass Storage
Quad Band Technology (GSM 850, 900, 1800 & 1900)
High Speed Data (HSCSD)
Access NetFront™ Web Browser
Memory & Talk Time
256 Mbytes Memory Stick Micro™ (M2™)
9 Hours Talk Time
400 Hours Standby
Weight & Size
90 x 47 x 24.5 mm