Sony Ericsson is aiming the Z610i at the style-conscious who don't want to compromise on features. The handset is certainly packed full of goodies, including a decent music player, Bluetooth and support for 3G video calling.
The Z610i is available free on contract on 3 or for £120 on pay as you go.
The Z610i is not the smallest phone in the world, but it certainly makes a statement, thanks to the mirrored finish on the front. This hides a small mono OLED screen that is completely invisible until you have an incoming call, when it shows the name and number, or when you press one of the side buttons to get it to show the digital clock. Our review handset was supplied in the girly pink, but it's also available in more masculine blue or black.
When you flip it open you're greeted by a keypad with chunky buttons that are ideal for texting. The keypad also has dedicated buttons giving you quick access to the camera, music download service and shortcut menu. There are also dedicated play/pause buttons on the side of the phone to let you quickly call up the music player.
The music player is actually one of the best features of the phone. It's very similar to the one found on the Walkman range of phones and lets you browse tracks by artist, song and album name, change equaliser settings and create new playlists on the go. The sound quality is also top notch and although the headphones supplied aren't the sound-isolating ones you get with Walkman handsets, they're still pretty good and can pump out a decent amount of bass.
As the phone uses the standard Sony Ericsson user interface it's very easy to use and has an excellent implementation of T9 predictive text for messaging. Call quality was also top notch and we had no problems with reception either. There's also Bluetooth onboard for connecting the phone to a wireless headset or car kit. Lots of 3G phones have pretty poor battery life, but thankfully that's not the case with the Z610i, as you'll get around 7 hours of talk time from it and over 12 days on standby.
The handset is rather chunky and the design looks awkward, especially when it's flipped open. This is mainly because the hinge is not at the edge of the phone, but slightly further down the main body of the handset, much like the old Z600.
The phone has only 16MB of internal memory and is supplied with a rather small 64MB M2 card, so if you want to make the most of its music playing features you'll have to upgrade to a much larger card. Unfortunately, M2 cards are more expensive than the microSD cards used on most other makes of phones, so you should bear this in mind if you're looking for a phone that's going to act as your primary music player.
The phone has dual camera for 3G video calling, with the main one having a 2-megapixel resolution. The pictures it takes aren't too bad, but there's no flash so it's no good for taking snaps in dingy bars or clubs.
The Z610i is a decent 3G handset, but not really a remarkable one. It has good music-playing features, strong battery life and is easy to use, but the chunky design and badly placed hinge makes it feels ungainly.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire