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The GSM unlocked W995a:    
Sony Ericsson W995a

Preorders began on June 3rd and will ship on July 6th;
the same date you can find it in stores for around $600.
Check out full features and specs at Sony Style.

I've been using the Sony Ericsson W995a as my primary phone for about a week now, and I've been really happy with it. As far as feature phones go, this is the best one I've used. And even though I have become accustomed to the touch screen and smart OS, my overall experience with the W995a rivals the experience I've had with my favorite smart phones. That is, without regard to web browsing, typing and a few (what I consider to be) gravy options.

The operating system is sleek, smooth, and never overwhelms the hardware. It results in a fluid environment that feels like a smart phone, minus some features. Those familiar with Walkman devices will find a similar but extremely polished design here. I don't have a set of them on hand to compare, but from what I know of the brand, this handset feels like a fresh, high-quality update. I've had zero problems with it, and the style and functionality took me by surprize.

The only complaint I have at this price is that there is no QWERTY - hard or soft. But if you're in the market for this one, you probably don't care. It's a media phone - meaning it's primary functions are media first and telephony second. It's not the most friendly choice for texts and email. The phone can be used in these contexts, but if you place a high priority on either of those functions, the W995a is not for you. If you want an excellent Media player and still camera, it most certainly is.

Because I tested a prototype, I didn't get a pair of the reportedly killer headphones that will ship with the phone. I didn't get the data port adapter that allows for a second set of headphones to be used simultaneously, either. I also missed out on the media services with this early model but I dumped some music and video over, took some photos, and looked for flaws.

The video isn't great. It's not terrible, but as you can see in the first few seconds of my video review, this isn't the phone you want to use to shoot a wedding or birthday. It would be great for a quick MMS vid, documenting a college prank, or capturing police brutality. The still camera, on the other hand, is fantastic. I'm not a qualified photographer, like the good Doctor Photo. But as your average point-and-shoot consumer, the camera satisfied. It has a wonderful interface, nice pictures, and integration with Snapfish for easy print ordering (not tested).

Aside from  a few small details, quality of photos is why I chose to write a post in addition to my video review of the W995a, so here are a few samples. They are compressed, but you can see a full-sized image by clicking the previews below. My loan agreement did not allow me to take the phone outside of my apartment, so forgive the limited scenery.

w995a

w995a

w995a

The final verdict is that I love it. Then again, I'm not considering a purchase. The price tag is high, but you've gotta love the contract-free lifestyle

Also see Engadget's write-up. If the handwriting and letter on the "acceptance unit" sticker is any indication, I tested the exact same unit. They have some good photos of the phone, so check it out. Engadget wasn't as fond of the camera as I am, but they loved the W995a as a Walkman. They also point out that the lanyard clip works as a kickstand. (I think acceptance units are manufacturer proofs sent to the client for approval.)
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eBay prices for the Sony Ericsson W995 Progressive Black


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