Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Sony Ericsson may have been a bit late to the flip-phone game, but this year the company has done a lot to catch up. Just last month we examined AT&T's Sony Ericsson Z310a and now we turn our attention to the Sony Ericsson Z750a. Sporting a minimalist design with above average dimensions, the Z750a offers a midrange feature set with Bluetooth, a megapixel camera and support for North American 3G networks. As if this writing the GSM Z750a is available only as an unlocked model in the United States and Canada but we wouldn't be surprised if it landed at AT&T.
Like many Sony Ericsson phones, the Z750a comes in multiple colors: phantom gray and rose pink. The pink version, which we examined, isn't as garish as the pink model of the Z310a, but it's still bright and shiny. It shows your reflection, albeit a rose-tinted one, and like any mirror, it attracts fingerprints. We weren't crazy about it, to be frank, but it's certainly eye-catching. As stated above, the Z750a is a tad bulky, but not excessively so. It measures 3.8 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.8 inch and weighs 3.9 ounces. It fits in comfortably, but the outer plastic casing felt a bit flimsy.
The Z750a's external display is similar to the Z310a's. Though it's invisible when the backlighting is off, a quick flick of the left spine volume rocker makes it appear in the center of the front face. It's a unique touch, particularly since the display has a vertical orientation, but we didn't love it. Though the display shows the time, battery life, signal strength, and number caller ID, it's rather small when compared with the phone's overall size. That means that the text is also small and that the screen won't show photo caller ID or work as a viewfinder for the camera lens. Also, the display is difficult to see in direct light.
Like most Sony Ericsson phones, the Z750a has an excellent internal display that measures 2.25 inches (240x320 pixels) and supports 262,144 colors. Colors were vibrant and images were crisp, though the display can be difficult to see in direct light. You can change the brightness and the clock size, but none of the other options are customizable.
The navigation array on the Z750a is quite well-designed. The four-way toggle is large and very tactile, so we had no problems zipping though the user-friendly menus. It's also surrounded by a pink ring and it's brightly backlit, so we had no problem finding it in dim environments.
The central OK button opens the menu when the phone is in standby mode, while the "up" direction of the toggle acts as a camera shortcut. The other three directions can be programmed to give one-touch access to three user-defined functions while a second shortcut buttons opens a customizable menu of oft-used functions. Other navigation controls include a Web browser shortcut, two soft keys and a clear control. And in an uncharacteristic Sony Ericsson move, the Z750a has dedicated Talk and End keys.
We also approved of the Z750a's backlit keypad buttons. They're large and tactile, which makes it easy to text quickly and dial by feel. Our only complaint was that the keys felt a bit cheap, but it wasn't a big deal. The dedicated power button is located below the keypad in a convenient location.
The Z750a's hinge has a solid construction, and the phone clicks audibly into place when opened. The rear half of the handset extends about a third of an inch above the hinge, which is unusual, but it's clear that's where the Z750a keeps its antenna. Completing the exterior of the phone are the external memory slot on the left spine and the volume rocker and a music player button on the right spine. The latter two features could be a bit larger. The camera lens sits just above the external display, a speaker sits on the rear face and the phone's bottom end holds the headset jack/charger port.
The Z750a has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for seven phone numbers, an e-mail, a Web address, two street addresses, a birthday, and notes. You can save callers to groups and pair them with a video ringtone or one of 14 polyphonic ringtones. Your contacts also support photo caller ID, but keep in mind they won't show up on the external display. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a voice memo recorder, an alarm clock, a calculator, a calendar, a notepad, a stopwatch, a task list, a timer, and a speakerphone (usable after you make a call). You can organize your all your files using the Z750a's file manager application.
Beyond the basics, the Z750a also offers PC modem capability, a code memo for storing sensitive information, voice commands and dialing, PC syncing, e-mail, USB mass storage and Instant messaging. Full Bluetooth with a stereo profile is also integrated and can use the phone as a remote control to connect with other Bluetooth-enabled gadgets. More offbeat applications include an Audible player for listening to content form Audible.com, a tool for composing your wallpapers and GPS services through Google Maps.
Though it's not an official Walkman phone, the Z750a has a comparable music player. The interface is minimal, but the player supports MP3 and AAC files and offers a fair feature set including shuffle and loop modes, stereo widening, and an equalizer. It also supports album art but Sony's Mega Bass is absent. You can transfer music to the phone with ease by connecting it to a PC with a USB cable. And once music is on the phone, you can organize tracks by artist, track name, or playlist. For even more listening fun, the music player also supports podcasts and audiobooks, and the Z750a has an FM radio.
The 2-megapixel camera shoots photos in three sizes (2-megapixel, 1-megapixel, and standard VGA). Other options include two quality settings, three color effects, a night mode, white-balance and brightness adjustments, a digital zoom (unusable at the highest resolution), and four shutter sounds (plus a silent option). There's also a self-timer, a multishot mode, and an option for taking panoramic shots. The camcorder takes clips with sound and offers a set of editing options similar to the still camera. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 25 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the memory permits. Photo quality was good, with acceptable colors and little blurriness, but we miss having a flash. The Z750a comes with PhotoDJ and VideoDJ applications, and you can connect the phone directly to a photo printer.
You can personalize the Z750a with a variety of color themes, wallpaper, and screensavers. If the options included on the phone aren't enough, you can purchase more with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. You also can download more ringtones or create your own using the MusicDJ application. Investigators, QuadraPop, and The Sims 2 are the included Java (J2ME) games included, but you can buy more.
On their end, callers said we sounded very good. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but that's not unusual. Also, automated calling systems were able to understand us. The speakerphone was passable but not completely reliable. The sound tended to vibrate on the external speaker, and we had to speak close to the phone in order to be understood. On the other hand, Bluetooth headset calls were respectable. The Z750a's music quality also was decent, though the experience is best through a stereo headset. Like with the speakerphone, the phone tended to vibrate at the highest levels.
Luckily, the Z750a supports three UMTS bands (850/1900/2100), so it is compatible with 3G networks in North America. That's a welcome sign, as Sony Ericsson typically leaves us out when it comes to 3G. In the United States, that means AT&T would be your only current choice for a 3G carrier, but you should be able to connect to its wireless broadband network for fast data speeds, streaming video, and video calling. At the time of this writing, however, we weren't able to test the 3G connection.
Unfortunately we noticed that the Z750a interface was a tad pokey. It could take a couple of seconds to open the menus, switch between screens, and open and close applications. It caught us off guard, and it wasn't an experience we enjoyed.
The Z750a has a rated battery life of 9 hours talk time and 16.6 days standby time. In our tests, we got a talk time of 7 hours, 30 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Z750a has a digital SAR rating of 1.42 watts per kilogram.