Sony Ericsson Z550i review: Sony Ericsson Z550i

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The Good Solid construction and chic design. Good balance of business and fun.

The Bad Top buttons sometimes stopped responding when phone was opened quickly. Phone not optimised for the Web and music features it offers.

The Bottom Line The Z550i is a chic but sensible lower-end phone that does the basics well and adds a sprinkling of extras. We'd rate it higher if not for a significant text-related performance problem.

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6.5 Overall

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Looking at Sony Ericsson's current clamshell family (including the youth-focused, party-happy W300i and the achingly cool Z610i), we'd label the Z550i the chic but not showy cousin.

The design is more businesslike than the Walkman branded or mirror-surfaced models, with a brushed metal casing and black accents contributing to the overall sedate look. With dimensions of 45 x 20 x 88mm and a weight of 93 grams, the phone is a compact little number that will sit stealthily in a pocket.

Opening up the clamshell reveals an equally sedate keypad, with comfortably spaced plastic buttons and a round metal navigation button crowning the number keys. Send and End keys, also sleek in brushed metal, flank this circular part.

The 176 x 220-pixel main display looked to be doing justice to all of its 262,000 colours, and passed the sunlight visibility test.

The outer LCD is unusual for its shape and placement -- instead of being a mini version of the internal display, the Z550i's screen is vertically oriented, and at 128 x 36 pixels, more of a strip. Missed call notifications and new message alerts scroll across the screen in purple, along with the name of the person contacting you (or number if they don't occupy a space in your phonebook).

Sony Ericsson has taken a bet each way with the Z550i, offering a sprinkling of business features along with some basic lifestyle and entertainment offerings. For the corporate-minded, push e-mail gets a look-in, as does a sync-able calendar and HTML browser. When you're sick of all the work stuff, you can take snapshots with the 1.3-megapixel camera, play games and listen to music via the media player. The problem is that the phone isn't really optimised for the features it offers -- for example, you'd need to purchase a memory card to be able to store more than a handful of songs, and the screen is too small for anything more than a cursory glance at the Web.

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