Sony Ericsson W518a GoPhone

3.2 MP Camera, Music Player, Full HTML Browser, and GPS

Hey! The Sony Ericsson W518a Gophone has some great features, but it also gets some troubling user reviews. The phone has a 3.2 megapixel camera, a music player with stereo Bluetooth, full HTML browser and GPS navigation.

I'll go over the features and then take a closer look at those user reviews.

Let’s start with a video first.

Voice Guided GPS

You get turn-by-turn directions in addition to local business search. So, if you’re on your way to your friend’s house and want to pick up some . . . donuts, you can probably find a place.

And don’t worry if you forgot to bring along your camera, because the phone has a good one.

3.2 Megapixel Camera

That’s right, the Sony Ericsson W518a has a 3.2 megapixel camera. At that resolution you can take some really nice photos and even make some nice prints.

Video Capture and Playback

As you can see from the sample above, you can take videos with the camera phone and view them on the phone or download them to your PC.

Walkman Music Player

The music player on the this phone can play MP3, WMA, and the various AAC-type files. The Sony Walkman 3.0 app allows you to conveniently manage your songs on the mobile phone, but it’s not clear what to use on the PC end for uploading.

8 GB Storage

You can store up to 8 GB worth of music and video. Note that since it’s a Sony, it takes a Memory Stick micro rather than a microSD card.

With ShakeControl

The phone also must have an accelerometer to detect movement, because there are also shake controls for shuffling songs, etc.

An FM Radio

If you prefer to get your music or news beamed in, or just don't feel like listening to your own playlists, you can use the FM radio, or, if you sign up for a streaming service, listened to streaming radio. Either way, you can listen wirelessly.

Plus Stereo Bluetooth Stereo Bluetooth is pretty much standard for an mp3 player phone.

Done with taking pictures and listening? How about getting on the web with their . . .

Full HTML Browser

Unlike many phones which just support the WAP browser which shows a subset of HTML, this GoPhone is able to render full HTML, though it’s still easier to look at sites that are optimized for mobile due to the screen size.

Good Display

The display is 320 x 240 pixels which is pretty good for such a compact phone.

3G Data

The pages should load pretty quickly via the AT&T 3G network. You do have to be in an area where they offer 3G coverage and you have to sign up for their Media Net package.

Messaging

You can do text and multimedia (MMS) messages. You can insert photos, and video and sound clips into your MMS messages, and the network should be able to deliver them fairly quickly.

Instant Messaging

Like most GoPhones, once you’ve got the online package, you can also do instant messaging on AOL, Yahoo, and Windows Live. You can also get your email from those services.

You can even do . . .

Video Sharing

Instead of first recording a video and then sharing it, you can do live video sharing with your family and friends.

If you're not the sharing kind then you can download your stuff via

USB Connectivity

You can opt to transfer files to and from your Sony Ericsson W518a GoPhone via USB.

With these premium features it's seems worth it. Let's see if the basics are taken care of as well.

Basic Features

Manual

You can download the Sony Ericsson W518a GoPhone Manual (pdf) here.

Voice Dialing

Surprisingly, the W518a supports voice dialing and voice commands. I don’t usually associate this feature with phones on AT&T’s network, so this is great.

The Sony Ericsson W518a GoPhone is a small phone considering its many features.

Size and Weight

It weighs just 3.35 ounces and measures 3.7 x 1.9 x 0.6 inches.

Battery Life

Battery life is pretty good. You can talk for up to 4 hours at a time. The standby time is over 16 days. These times will be shortened considerable by listening to music and taking pictures, but so what? You can always recharge it every night, and you're ready to go the next day!

Troubling User Reviews

I took a look at the W518a user reviews while they were still up at the GoPhone site. The average customer rating for the phone is a solid 4 out of 5 stars, but there was more to the story. I was a little surprised to see three recurring problems.

Phone Freezes

Many of the reviews mentioned that the phone sometimes freezes up. How frequent and how important this flaw is depends on the user, but it does make me a little leery. After all, when a phone becomes unusable, it isn't really a phone anymore. This also can explain the discrepancy in some ratings as some users will continues to rate the features highly but give a phone a low overall rating.

AT&T, however, calculates their average rating on the basis of the average of all the feature ratings, and not on the user's overall rating. So one use gave this phone about 4 out of 5 stars for all its features and a 1 out of 5 overall rating because of a couple of problems including this. However, his rating will count as 4 out of 5 stars.

Small Keys

The keys on the phone are quite small, especially the ones on the top, and a few people have reported difficulty with using them. This, frankly is the tradeoff with having a compact phone. If you want a tiny phone, you're usually going to get tiny buttons.

Short Battery Life

Though the official battery life rating is pretty good as noted above, it will be a little less in actual usage. A couple user have found it to be short enough to complain about. Keep in mind, however, with a high-powered phone, expect a shorter battery life if you're going to be using its fancy features. You'll get close to its rated battery life only if you use it just for calling. The solution to this is to simply charge it every night.

So those are the majority of the complaints. The tendency to freeze is really the only major concern, but you can try it out and use the AT&T's guarantee if you have any problems.

› Sony Ericsson W518a

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