Music for all

Not so long ago recommending a music-playing handset would have been easy – you’d just wave Sony Ericssons at the punters. For our point of view, the only problem was that Sony Ericsson didn’t have a dozen Walkman phones in the catalogue.

That’s all changed now; the benchmark W800 is still around at bargain prices, but it’s been joined by a small army of music-playing variants with different form factors, different price points, and different levels of specification. What’s more, the competition is catching up – the S60 music player makes for some pretty decent Nokias, Samsung is finally building some music software to match its hardware, and even RIM has made a decent music phone. Now all we need is a new generation of improved headphones …

• Equaliser presets. It makes sense to tweak the tone settings for different styles of music and different styles of recording. A choice of presets does some of the work for you, but they’d better be noticeably effective

• Oomph. It’s not that we wanted ear-bleeding volume, just that the wider the range the better – too quiet is always too bad, but too loud can always be turned down

• Playlists. We want to be able to create our own selections of music and save them. It also helps to have summaries of most-listened-to and most-recently-played tracks

• File transfer software. The simplest way to get music from a PC on to the phone is drag-and-drop, with the handset being treated simply as an external USD drive, but most music-oriented phones come with copying software that’s a bit more clever