Most helpful positive review
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Great Phone, with a few quirks...
on July 25, 2009
I bought this phone to replace my previous walkman phone (a w300i). That old phone was trusty and has served me well for over 2 years but I felt that I needed to modernize a bit. The 518a is the first reasonable walkman flip to come to att in a while. And I have to say that its a pretty good phone.
Design: Excellent, the battery cover is a matte black that appears to be pretty scratch resistant and the front cover is black although changeable to various styles (just switch up the covers). It is quite glossy and picks up some fingerprints, but they really don't show as the black is a not piano finish (i.e. ipod touch). The top has 3 touch sensitive buttons which aren't the most responsive buttons out there, but I guess that's good to avoid accidental hitting.
Construction: Not bad. The battery cover is mind bogglingly thin. Almost paper thin. The phone hasn't been dropped yet, but I do believe that its quite well built. The hinge doesn't wobble like my old w300i's. (finally sony got this hinge issue fixed). The keypad feels sturdy although there is a little creak to the keys. But overall, I don't think its the actually covering of the phone that is keeping this thing together but rather the slim compressed factor of the phone itself.
Reception and Call Quality:
I've had no problems thus far with this. The 3g works well in Hartford County, CT. I haven't had any dropped calls or issues on my end so far. The speaker isn't as loud as the w300i's but its adequate. Overall, calls have been loud and clear (near Nokia deliverance quality).
The menu, with flash backgrounds unactivated is responsive enough. I did feel that there seems to be a periodic lag but its quite minimal. The real issue is when flash themes are activated. The phone lags like a mother. Hopefully sony ericsson will release a software update to rectify this.
Walkman player: There is a dedicated walkman key on the 4 way rocker (up). I felt that the interface was well designed with the player updating and integrating with my memory stick media files effectively. Again, the issue that always seems to come up with this phone is the lag. I'm not sure if this is software related or simply a limitation of accessing the memory card files, but the walkman interface seems to lag incessantly. ITs not terrible, but it certainly isn't responsive as my old w300i. There also seems to be a lag between hitting the external walkman controls (3 touch sensitive buttons) and a response from the walkman player. Again, this phone just released so hopefully sony gets its act together and issues some software udpates. Some other notes on the walkman player, I've had no issues with music playback thus far. Audio quality has been excellent through the fastport to 3.5 mm headphone adapter I'm using. Megabass isn't as good as clearbass, but it does the trick for us bass heads. I would say that the actual menu system of the walkman player is actually superior to sony's dedicated walkman mp3 players( i.e. we get on the fly playlists, delete controls, you know... simple things that sony has a knack for screwing up usually). Right... one more thing... I have a hunch that some sony engineer decided that if they provided us with quality keys on the keypad, they had to skimp on something else. I think there was a definite cost cutting on the loudspeaker for this one. My w300i's speaker is much better than this. The 518's speaker distorts and seriously lacks some clarity when playing music. I'm not sure if my unit is defective. But if I change the volume, the music fade out feature seems to have the effect of distorting the speaker with some kind of crackling noise. I think this is again a software issue...
Now that I'm on issues... I don't know why the heck Sony insists on using their garbage fastport for charging and headsets. Its 2009 Sony! Get with the program and ditch the proprietary jack and give us a 3.5mm headphone jack and microusb charging port. Honestly, when other manufacturers are ditching their proprietary garbage, sony insists on using fastport. Maybe they have a warehouse full of adapters to get rid of and that's why they insist on fastport?
Battery life: No issues, looks like its lasting as per Sony's specs. For those of you on EDGE phones nows, anticipate a reduction in battery life when upgrading to 3g devices.
Camera: No autofocus, no flash. Pictures with light come out well but seem to have a some contrast and sharpening issues. At least its not vga. Just be prepared to hold the phone really really still if you want a clear shot.
Navigation: CNET's review noted that the key were flat. Yeah... they're flat as heck. I honestly had a lot of touble using the 4-way navigation pad simply because some idiot at Sony forgot that people without child sized hands would be using this phone. Try the phone out. Some people with fat fingers will seriously have issues using the navi pad, to the point that they may have to return the device. I personally got used to it, but it would have been nice if sony sometimes focused on practicality more than style.
My verdict: Great phone overall, I've been a fan of sony ericsson phones and this phone for 50 bucks (I'm a continuing customer) is a good deal. (gps, 3g, walkman player, fm radio... ) I'm giving this phone 4 stars. 1 star deduction for the menu interface lag. I really wonder if manufacturers even bother with product testing sometimes... I'll update this review as I use the phone more.