Sony Ericsson R306

FM/AM radio with presets.

Sony Ericsson R306
  • Sony Ericsson R306
  • Sony Ericsson R306
  • Sony Ericsson R306
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • FM/AM radio, external display, preset buttons, price, build quality, sleek design

Cons

  • Sunlight makes both displays hard to read, radio requires proprietary headset, TrackID can’t be used with radio

Bottom Line

If you are hell-bent on listening to AM/FM radio, then the R306 is a pretty handy and inexpensive handset.

Would you buy this?

A basic and inexpensive mobile handset, Sony Ericsson’s R306 has the unusual feature of offering a full stereo AM and FM radio. With dedicated external controls, as well as RDS (Radio Data System) and Track ID, the R306 is clearly about listening to radio while you're on the go.

Despite being an entry-level handset at the lower end of the price spectrum, the clamshell R306 handset is both compact and stylish. Build quality feels excellent and the flip mechanism — while annoying to open with one hand — is strong and sturdy, with no signs of slackness in the hinge. The R306’s design lends itself to radio listening, as a small external display is accompanied by dedicated radio controls, including three preset station buttons. The reflective, mirror-style finish surrounding these buttons attracts plenty of fingerprints, but it complements the matte black casing quite nicely.

Flipped open, the R306 reveals a generously spaced keypad possessing flat, round keys. These buttons require a slightly firmer press than we’re used to, but they offer reasonable tactility and are comfortable. The rest of the controls are straightforward, with the grunt of the operations performed by the five-way navigational pad and two selection buttons. Unfortunately, both the external and internal displays don’t fare well when faced with direct sunlight — we found the screen difficult to see in this situation.

The R306’s radio features RDS (Radio Data System), data that is transmitted along with the audio information on a radio signal. In other markets, RDS can display information like track title and artist and the program type being transmitted, but these services aren’t available in Australia. Only the station name (e.g. 2DAYFM) is displayed, appearing instead of the frequency. The radio offers 20 presets (for both FM and AM). You can effortlessly listen with the phone closed thanks to the display and preset buttons on the outside of the unit.

The fact that the R306 allows you to listen to AM frequencies is a point that Sony Ericsson has emphasised. While many Australians listen to AM radio this isn't the case for many places around the world, hence it is rarely seen on mobile phones. If you regularly listen to talkback radio, or perhaps horse racing or even rugby league on the weekends, then the AM radio will definitely appeal to you.

Quality is reasonable for radio, though a sour point is the fact that you have to use the included proprietary headphones. Unlike most Sony Ericsson models, the R306 doesn’t include an adapter to use standard 3.5mm headphones. A strange feature is the fact that Track ID — Sony Ericsson’s service that allows you to record music externally and receive track and artist information — isn’t able to record from the radio.

Radio aside, the R306 doesn’t offer many extras. A standard affray of PIM functions, Bluetooth, a basic WAP browser, a sound recorder and a 1.3-megapixel camera without flash are just about it. The R306 isn’t a 3G-capable phone, so only operates on tri-band GSM networks. Quality of calls is reasonable, though incoming audio could be a little louder — it is sometimes difficult to hear in a noisy environment.

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