Earlier this year Sony Ericsson gave us news of the second instalment of their new family of ‘communication entertainment’ phones, namely the Sony Ericsson ‘Vivaz’ announcement, and over the last few weeks here at Zath we’ve been having a play around with it to see whether or not it is a worthy successor to the very impressive (but unfortunately not as successful) Sony Ericsson Satio.
Direct translated from Portuguese ‘Vivaz’ means spirited or lively, something that presumably has been the main ethos behind the design of this phone, and something that should show through. So let’s have a look at how it fares:
The first thing that you notice about the Sony Ericsson Vivaz (especially when sat next to the relatively blocky Satio) is that it is a very slim, elegant phone with a smooth rounded finish across the whole phone which makes it very nice to look at – the model tested came in ‘Moon Silver’ which was very attractive even if the dark blue sides did remind one a little of Acrylic.
It is also significantly smaller than the Satio (in form, the screen isn’t that much smaller) which means it easily slips into pockets and more unfortunately out of hands, something that happened numerous times and resulted in the relatively ‘fragile’ screen accumulating a few scratches in a relatively small period of time.
One thing I disliked about the case was the manner in which the camera sat flush to the case, which although looks very nice does not offer it that much protection and means you cannot simply flick the cover back to use the camera. Also in order to change the SIM or MicroSD card the back needed to be pulled off which is not only a lot of effort, but also massively increases the chances of the plastic back being damaged.
Having said all of that it does look incredibly nice, and really stands out especially in the more striking colours. Whilst I would say it looks less suave than the Satio it does look more exciting, and does feel a lot nicer in the hand.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz uses a Symbian operating system which I personally very like, and find very easy to navigate. Unfortunately the menu is relatively limited given the large range of options, but it is very easy to rearrange and it is definitely worth taking the time to set it up to your liking.
One definite improvement on the Satio is the screen which is a lot more sensitive than its predecessors’ and thus a lot smoother to use. Unfortunately the slightly smaller screen size means that the onscreen QWERTY keyboard (should you choose to use that) is that little bit more cramped and although typing errors are rare – with small fingers at any rate – they are still more common. If you’re interested in an actual physical keyboard, then you should perhaps take a look at the upcoming Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro or Xperia 10 Pro.
Unfortunately there are flaws, and one of them (the screen locking mechanism) is quite possibly the worst bit of the phone which aside from being ineffective, time consuming and a massive step back from the Satio also cost me quite a bit of money!
Unlike the simple flick switch on the Satio in order to lock the screen you must press the small button on the top of the phone, and then select lock screen. This doesn’t sound too bad, except for when you are in any kind of hurry it is incredibly easy to select ‘turn off’ or in fact nothing at all, both of which are equally annoying.
Another problem is that it is very easy to unlock the screen when in your pocket, as pressing the call button and then the screen a couple of mm above it does exactly that, and this happened a couple of times in the few weeks of testing resulting in a very expensive 5 minute voicemail message on someone’s phone!
However if you are careful enough (as I sure was after that) then this really isn’t a problem, and on the whole the phone is very nice and easy to use, and efforts have obviously been put into ironing out some of the flaws in the Satios’ interface.
The camera is one of the finest points of the phone and although it may not live up to the standard set by the Satio it still sets the bar very high especially given the size of the phone with a significant 8.1 megapixels to use for still shots and the ability (as the shiny lettering on the back suggest) to shoot in 720p HD for videos.
Whilst the camera isn’t the speediest to start up, or the most satisfying as it is lacking the sliding cover and blue lights that the Satio boasts, when it does get going it is very easy to use with the on screen options being very intuitive and simple to use.
The quality of the camera is also very good, on a par with many mid-range compacts, and as the pictures below show – the only real problems come with direct light, something that the camera doesn’t deal with especially well, but that is really only a minor qualm as it is very impressive.
As you can see (despite the incredibly uninspiring subjects) the camera copes very well even in very drab light, and whilst there is some blurring this is forgivable as the picture is generally very good.
Seeing as much of the rest of the phone doesn’t really have the amount to merit its own section here is a collection of the other points of note about the phone.
The first is the battery life which is something that has been improved on from the Satio and whilst it doesn’t quite reach the standby value of 430 hours it does come pretty close and can last several days on casual use, and in fact unless you really make an effort it can last the day comfortably.
The internet is, despite its status as a smartphone, not especially well integrated into the phone and although it is readily available and works well it is a pain to set up, and you still tend to have to go through several dialog boxes to get it working.
However once you are on it is very nice to use: the 3G internet is quick, as is the WiFi, and a small blessing is that it is quite quick to swap between the two. Actually browsing the internet is very much a non-event as it is neither effortless or in any way complicated, and whilst the screen is perhaps offers a little too much resistance to movement (making scrolling a little more tricky) the interface is really well designed and brilliant if you are already used to having a Sony Ericsson phone.
A few other points to note: whilst they may have failed a little with the headphones that are offered which are a disappointingly plastic affair Sony get 10/10 for the inclusion of not only a micro USB port, but also a 3.5mm headphone jack both of which have been sorely missing from past phones.
Whilst the Sony Ericsson Vivaz does in many ways sit in the shadow of the Satio with the slightly poorer camera and an incredibly poor screen lock system, it does still carry its own identity very well and is all things considered a very good phone.
It is probably fair to say that the design is the highlight of the phone as the Vivaz really does look very nice, and the LCD screen is equally impressive complimenting it nicely. And when you think about it just looking at the camera by itself it is a very impressive offering, it is just a shame that it is overshadowed by the Satio in that respect.
The interface is also a pleasure to use, and is very easy to use, and I would definitely recommend that anyone considering a new phone gives this a good look – whilst it may not be for you if you want good looks, a solid camera and a general all round good ‘lively’ phone then you should definitely think about the Sony Ericsson Vivaz!