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Smartphones Reviews
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Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro review

Price depends on contract

Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

If you had ever felt the need for a smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard that could also record 720p videos, then the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro might just be the phone you are looking for. The Vivaz Pro has a slide out QWERTY keyboard and a 5Mp camera and runs on Symbian S60 5th Edition.

If you had ever felt the need for a smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard that could also record 720p videos, then the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro might just be the phone you are looking for. The Vivaz Pro has a slide out QWERTY keyboard and a 5Mp camera and runs on Symbian S60 5th Edition.

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro: Features & Specifications

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro's feature-list looks quite complete and can compete with any of the other smartphones out there. It has a 720MHz processor and a decent mobile GPU option in the PowerVR SGX. It has a 3.2-inch resistive touchscreen at 640x360 (nHD) resolution and 16M colour output. The Vivaz Pro has 75MB of internal storage and can use microSD cards up to 16GB.

All the above specs are similar to those of the original Vivaz that Sony Ericsson launched earlier this year and we reviewed in April. However, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro sees a downgrade in camera megapixel with its 5Mp camera as the original Vivaz had an 8.1Mp shooter. However, as we mentioned before, the Vivaz Pro's 5Mp camera remains capable of shooting 720p videos.

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro comes with a couple of pre-installed applications but unfortunately the number isn't high enough to offset the complete absence of a dedicated app store/marketplace for the Vivaz Pro. The pre-installed applications include WisePilot for voice-guided GPS navigation, RoadSync that lets you sync your calendars, mails and contacts with your office's Exchange setup or with your personal Google account and the Media Server that lets you stream multimedia to DLNA compliant devices (for instance your television) over Wi-Fi and view/listen it there.

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro: Design & Usability

Maybe we're getting spoilt by reviewing too many phones with excellent capacitive touchscreens, but honestly, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro's resistive touchscreen combined with (the now increasingly archaic looking) Symbian S60 UI leaves a lot to be desired in terms of usability. The device didn't even come with the kinetic scrolling update that had been released for S60 devices and we were forced to use a thumbnail on the thin scroll bar to scroll through contacts lists, menus and the web browser. There was an update available on the Sony Ericsson servers but no matter how many times we tried, neither the Sony Ericsson PC Companion nor the Update Service was able to sidestep errors that interrupted the update.

However, in spite of the paragraph above, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro isn't a completely unusable mess. In fact, a lot of the disappointments of the touch UI were offset by the presence of the excellent hardware QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is very good to use and is made up of relatively large keys that are well spaced-out. The Vivaz Pro also has plenty of hardware buttons to ease navigation including separate ones to bring up the still camera and the camcorder.

It's interesting to note that although the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro maintains almost the same dimensions as the original Vivaz, it manages to house a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. We noticed an issue with the slide-out function as it wasn't smooth and it felt like the rubber keys were grating against the bottom of the screen making it weirdly difficult to slide-out the keyboard smoothly. The Vivaz Pro has a slightly svelte figure but nothing unpleasant to look at. It sports Sony Ericsson's “Human Curvature” design meaning that it has curvy but sleek looks. The white back especially adds to the Vivaz Pro's good looks and its build quality is solid with a good mix of glossy and metallic finishing.

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro: Multimedia, Browsing etc.

It's very clear from the outset that Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro has its mind quite firmly set on multimedia.

The 5Mp camera shoots very good pictures for a camera phone. Outdoor shots turned out clear and while indoor shots lacked details, they were otherwise free from noise and the colour levels were spot on. We also felt that the macro shots could have been sharper. The Vivaz Pro's flash is quite powerful and close-up night shots looked perfectly fine. The 720p videos we shot looked great and ran at a fair 24fps. Contrast levels seemed a bit off and in the darker areas of the video, we could see noise and artifacts.

The Vivaz Pro excels at music playback. The bass can be overpowering at times though not in a bad way. That's why it's disappointing that the external speaker outputs really tiny sound. The bundled earphones are also pretty average. The default video player does a good job of playing videos and the videos also look good on the screen. The Vivaz Pro doesn't play DivX/XviD videos out of the box but you can use Sony Ericsson's MediaGo software to convert and transfer videos to the phone. The process does take time (it took about 20 minutes to convert and transfer a 350MB DivX video) but if you have the time, it does its job efficiently.

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro uses the default Symbian browser which is good at rendering web pages but scores low on usability and features. It doesn't support multiple windows/tabs and the overall browsing experience isn't as fun and efficient as we have seen on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S and the Apple iPhone 3GS owing to the flawed touch UI.

The Vivaz Pro has a powerful 1200 mAH battery that comfortably lasts more than a day of regular to heavy usage. Calls on the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro had audible distortion but the phone maintained reception and the voices over the line were sufficiently loud.

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Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro Expert Verdict »

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro Scores 8.0 out of 10 based on 14 reviews
Processor: PowerVR SGX Graphics, 720Mhz
External: 640x360 pixels/3.2in Touch Sensitive (resistive), TFT
5 mega-pixels camera (auto-focus), 4x Digital Zoom, Maximum Video Resolution: HD (720x480)
MP3, AAC, eAAC+ & WMA, FM Radio (RDS)
SMS, MMS, email (POP3, SMTP, IMAP4, Exchange), Instant Messaging
75MB (internal), microSDHC (external) memory
WiFi (802.11 b/g), HSDPA (3.6Mbps), HSUPA (3.6 Mbps), Bluetooth (2.1), microUSB, 3.5mm Audio Connector, TV Out
GPS
Accelerometer
Web Browser
Office Document Viewer (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
117g
52x109x15mm
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

At £289, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro will put plenty of smartphone fans in a quandary. On one hand you have the excellent keyboard and the capability to shoot 720p videos. However, the phone has an OS and UI that looks sufficiently aged and is still priced close to £300. If you are looking for a QWERTY keyboard, good 5Mp camera combination, then the Nokia N97 Mini is a solid option and costs less. The Samsung Wave shoots really good 720p video and is also an excellent buy. If you are looking for a smartphone that works great overall at that same price range then look no further than the Google Android based HTC Legend. Ultimately, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro does cater to the niche set of users who want a QWERTY based smartphone that can shoot HD videos and it's perfectly suited for those users.

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