Customer Reviews: Sony Ericsson Clamshell W518 3G Mobile Flip Phone Black
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on February 17, 2010
There are only a very few things that I like about the phone, however there are just too many negatives that the few positives are negligible. I will tell you about the most annoying, but there are more.

You will absolutely miss calls with this phone. Why? There will be many times this phone will:

Just not ring. The person will hear it ring on their end and eventually be sent to voice mail.

Freeze, and the only way to get it back is to remove the battery.

Ring but will not respond to the answer button.

Upon touching it, direct the person's call to voice mail. Because if you use gesture control once, it never turns off, even if the display says so. Gesture Control is a feature that allows you to silence the phone when you wave your hand over it. Gesture control doesn't just silence rings, it hangs up on the person and sends them to voice mail. The bad thing about this feature is once you hear the ring and touch the phone, it will terminate the call. That's because it has an optical sensor, and the slightest change of light will activate it.

Let's say you don't want to hear from a particular caller. You should just be able to turn off the ring for that caller. Well, not with this phone. Instead, you have to make a longer list of all the people you'll accept ( which in most cases is your entire phone book ) in order to exclude maybe one or two. But that's not even the worst part. The phone has a software bug where creating the list is impossible. My son has the same phone and it happens with his also.

Now after 30 days, the phone is completely inoperative. It doesn't last an hour before freezing. Sometimes it will freeze when it rings, so answering is impossible. It will freeze during a conversation. It will freeze just sitting still on my desk whether I'm using my blue-tooth or not.

Last, but not least is AT&T's return policy. They want to replace the phone with a refurbished unit. I asked the rep, "what do you mean refurbished? It's not 30 days old, can I get a new phone?" She said that it's AT&T's policy to replace a customers malfunctioned phone with one that has been returned within 30 days. "In other words" I said, "You're taking my problem and sending me someone else's."

I told the rep that the internet is full of bad to horrible reviews of this particular model. I reminded her that I'm experiencing the exact same problems that I've read about, and if you send me a "refurbished unit" I'm most likely going to experience the same thing all over again. Is it possible that I can have another model phone?
Well, the answer was short and simple, "no."

I should mention that AT&T sent me this phone under thier so-called "Insurance Policy" after my original V3 was stolen. The AT&T insurance policy is a ripp-off, and should be avoided at all cost, and it will cost you big, but that's another review.

Like I said, there are just too many things wrong with this phone, and unless you like frustration, stay away!
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on July 24, 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...
Other issues:
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.
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on July 13, 2010
This is my first review ever. I felt so utterly compelled by the grief this phone has caused me.

I purchased it because I was seduced by all the nice features this phone has, as I'm sure you're considering at this very moment. Even now I must admit that the camera is superb. But that's probably the only thing good about this phone. I believe the positive reviews were written once their cell phones were out of the box and with only a few minutes of tinkering. I've had this phone for maybe 4 months now, and I will never purchase a Sony cellphone again.

It freezes. All the time - as in, several times a day. You will miss all calls to you during that freeze time, which will probably have been a while unless you check your phone constantly. It doesn't unfreeze, so you're forced to take the battery out and put it back in. To add insult to injury, it's impossible to silence the phone's rather loud welcome tune, which can be a problem in classrooms and such. I've also experienced problems with the phone recognizing it's being charged, but that pales in comparison to the freezing issue.

In the name of Consumerism, save yourself the immense frustration and don't buy this phone.
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on July 22, 2009
This is a great phone. It reminds me somewhat of the Motorola Razr that I bought 3 years ago, but it is operates much better. The Walkman feature is wonderful, although the jury is still out as to whether it will support an 8 gig or 16 gig memory stick M2. Same with the talk time--Sony Ericsson says 10 hours, AT&T says 4 hours. The audio clarity is superb.
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on January 27, 2010
I purchased this phone to replace my RZR and it's terrible. The biggest problem is that the keys are very unresponsive. While texting or entering a phone number the phone will freeze, and then either input the letter/number or leave the letter selection box open. Often it will read that I pushed a key twice, namely when I try to enter the menu. From the main screen the 'menu' button is the same key as the 'back' button once you enter the menu. So I will try to enter the menu and it will enter and then go back. When I reply to a text message it frequently defaults my selection to 'audio recording' and I have to go back, delete the audio draft it made, and then try responding again. Also, it does not have auto-complete text which makes it very difficult to send someone a number. Even though I followed the instructions the battery has never fully charged #best it will do is 96%#. I do not recommend this phone to anyone who texts at all.
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on December 27, 2009
I got the W518a for free when AT&T bought out Unicel. I asked for a replacment for my Razr phone and this is what they offered. First phone they gave me had a bad lack of volume problem. The replacment was fine. Phone has stereo bluetooth, for music and hands free calls. Music through my bluetooth headphones is good, mega-bass for my bass loving. Camera is 3.2 mpixels, and only so so quality. Takes video also. Tried the voice commands with very mixed results. One thing about this phone is the documentation is absolutely terminal. Nothing is explained, either in the manual or online. How stupid. Phone buttons are flat and small, a bit of practice is needed to use. Another feature I grown to love is the FM built in radio... use it all the time on the treadmill. Don't know of many other phones that have that feature.

One thing I will soon be trying out and excited about is with the PC Suite software you can download, after linking my laptop to the W815a with a separately purchased USB cable (buy it on the internet, MUCH cheaper) I can browse the internet from my computer via the cell phone. Now I can use my laptop anywhere I can get a cell signal. No more searching for free WiFi. AT&T has a $15 p/m unlimited data fee or $2 per mgbyte fee for data. If this works, it will solve my "on the boat" internet access. Most wireless cards for laptops have a $60 p/m fee, Here I get a phone and "wireless card" in one package.
One Con: the menu screen is practically uncustomizable, another "dumb" feature.

On the whole, I'm happy with the W815a, not perfect, but certainly worth what I paid for it. :-)
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on March 21, 2010
This is the worst phone I have ever owned from day 1. I have worn the back off of the phone because it constantly hangs and the only way to continue is to remove the battery. I don't know how many calls I've missed because the phone is hung and I don't know until I'm ready to use. I've updated the software from the company website and still same problem. Requires special adapter to listen to FM radio which also requires headphones with a 2.5 mm jack. Would not buy another Sony phone.
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on January 25, 2010
I've had this phone for less than 2 months and the inside face--a plastic piece that surrounds the key pad--began peeling off this past week. I called AT&T and their warranty department said this was a "cosmetic problem" and not covered by the phone's warranty. I suggested that this was not an acceptable response and a very gracious manager replaced the phone out of her discretionary budget.

This could be a quirk--but who knows?
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on February 28, 2010
I am a Sony Ericsson person. I use nothing but Sony Ericsson. Their phones just work for me. One reason is that it takes no time to copy my phone book from my old phone to the W518a exactly the way I want it.

The W518a is solid with a very good weight. Not too big, not too small and it is wide enough to be held nicely. Call quality is as good as any other Ericsson phone. The display is much brighter and sharper compared to my W350 and W810.

The keys are big enough and the layout is great. The shortcut keys are finally well placed in the W518 this time. The AT&T key is not on the way anymore. I hate that AT&T key.

They have a much much improved menu layout compared to my W350 and W810. I like the Event page. It lists all the missed call, voice mail, etc on one page. They finally put back the voice command for their free phone. I can dial with my Bluetooth headset again. The phone book has more categories now. Like instead of just Work, they have Work and Work-Mobile now. This is great.

I use my phone to listen to music alot. The music player is much better than the one before. It works like the one in the Playstation. Just scroll up and down. No more guessing. I love SenseMe. I circle an area in the Mood window and it put all those songs in a playlist. This is so great to use. The screen is big and bright enough to watch movie in the W518a now. I can either use the USB cable or use Bluetooth to transfer the music and the movie to the phone. Movie takes a long time to copy though.

Sony uses Media Go to transfer the music and movie to the phone. Media Go is terrible to use to organize my library. It works with only USB cable. I use it only to transfer music and movie. It can convert pretty much anything to either MP4, MP3 or AAC. I am so glad that the W518a finally dumps the 3GP format. The W518a also has an accelerometer. I can tilt the phone to change the volume and skip back and fore to the next song without pressing the button. The phone also comes with a bowling game for the accelerometer too. Almost throw my phone to the ground with that game. So, be careful.

I have been using the W518a for 6 months now. It works great as both a phone and a MP3 and movie player. It pairs with all my Bluetooth stuffs (my headset, stereo headphone, my laptop, and my desktop). No problem at all. 5 stars!
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on July 5, 2010
The first phone ATT sent me had to be returned because I could not answer a call. It would send a message saying."busy signal being sent". Now the second Sony Ericsson 518A's display often will not come on when the phone is opened. Sometimes the display will come on but the key board will be dead. I called ATT customer support and like the last time they say they will check back with to see if having taken the battery out and reinserted it worked! How frustrating, do they really thing I am going to put up with taking the battery out and reinserting it every time I need to use the phone. I give this phone a big fat ZERO.
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