By Andrew Gould 26 November 2008


The Sony Ericsson R306 Radio is probably the strangest phone we’ve ever seen. We just don’t know what to make of it. In a way we don’t know if Sony Ericsson does either.

The name pretty much tries to say it all, but there is a lot more to this enigma of a device. This phone’s party-piece is supposed to be its ­in-built AM/FM radio and speaker, but phones have been coming out with radios since at least 2000. Sony ­Ericsson says that the reason they’ve based this phone around a radio is that it’s ­targeted at the developing market. We don’t know if ­anyone’s told Sony Ericsson, but radios are hardly pricey.

What makes this phone even stranger is, despite the strong focus on radio (it even has the function to record ­directly from radio, which is excellent), there is no built-in MP3 player. Even more bizarre, is that Sony Ericsson have included TrackID, that can connect to the Internet to tell you the artist and title of a clip you’ve recorded using the TrackID software. How will this serve the ­developing market better than an MP3 player?

But most insane of all is that this, low cost, 3rd world market phone is probably one of the best looking and most user-friendly devices on the planet. We love it.  It has a shiny black panel on the ­outside, flanked by its two speakers. This panel has a ­polarised display that is entirely black when the phone is on Standby, and which displays the time and radio frequency when you push one of the 5 pre-set ­buttons.

The user-interface is also brilliant, unlike many of Sony Ericsson’s disastrous ­navigation methods. The ­buttons are easy to press and spaced perfectly for even the most sausage-like fingers. If you really want a cool phone that has something very few other phones have, ­personality, then skip the iPhone, this is the coolest one bar none.

It has the function to record ?directly from radio, which is excellent and it features TrackID.
Sunlight makes both displays hard to read

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