In this fast-moving era of smart phones, netbooks, Blackberrys Wi-Fi, 3G, HSDPA and all manner of confusing, complicated names, it’s easy to forget that some people just want a phone that does the basics – calling, texting and perhaps playing a couple of games. If that sounds like you, the Sony Ericsson W205 could well be the handset you've been looking for.
What we like
We enjoyed a wave of nostalgia as we fired up the little handset and were greeted by pixels-a-plenty; the block images and square-cornered text give the W205 a bit of charm. Text messaging is where this phone excels, although if you type too quickly the phone will struggle to keep up with you.
As a Walkman phone, the W205 wears its music-player abilities on its sleeve, with the central button clearly marked for music playback. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack though, so you don't have much choice but to use the in-ear headphones that come with the handset. If you're any kind of music fan, however, you'll miss the superior sound provided by your high-quality headphones. Other music features include the built-in FM Radio tuner is built in and Sony Ericsson's TrackID tool for identifying unknown tracks - something which can come in very handy down at the school disco.
Given the lo-fi nature of the screen, the still- and video-camera quality is not to be sniffed at. You might laugh, however, at the measly 1.3megapixels or the 2x digital zoom which seem hopelessly outdated by today's standards. With 5MB of internal memory which can be expanded by a further 2GB via Memory Stick Micro, there’s enough space to keep you going.
It’s very very cheap. You can get your hands on a Sony Ericsson W205 handset for as little as £30.
What we don't like
The home panel plays host to a confusion of buttons; there are eleven different functions in a space that measures just 2x5cm. Be prepared to make mistakes aplenty - particularly dangerous is the 'C' button which could see you deleting things by accident.
Nimble young fingers will have no trouble at all with the traditional slide-out keypad although we found ourselves hitting the wrong keys quite a lot, probably because they are placed very tightly together.
You can tell this is a phone made for the young by its tiny, tiny screen alone. Pop those magnifying glasses on if you're over 20, you'll need them - especially if you're used to any kind of smartphone or touchscreen.
Although the W205 is meant to suit young teenagers, we'd be concerned that it doesn't offer the amount of functionality they may be hoping for from a phone. Particularly in the age of social networking where uploading that hilarious photo or incriminating video to Facebook, Bebo or whatever the latest network du jour is becomes a time-critical mission. And it's not one that the W205 can handle via its WAP access (What’s WAP? It’s primitive pre-3G mobile internet access) – they’ll either lose the kudos by Bluetoothing it to a friend who can upload it for them, or wait until they can sit down at a PC and do it themselves later.
Considering you can get it for as little as £30 on pay-as-you-go, the W205 is a pretty good deal. You get a music player (despite the ropey headphones) and phone that does a perfectly acceptable job. It’s a great device if you want to reduce an internet addiction or control a younger charge’s unsupervised access. But if you’re looking for something with a bit more punch, there are phones out there that can do all this and more on a budget only nominally larger than this one.