CNET First Look
Sony Ericsson VivazThe Sony Ericsson Vivaz offers value for its price, but we'd suggest paying more for a more powerful smartphone.
-Hi! I'm Kent German, senior editor here at cnet.com. Today, we're going to take a first look at the Sony Ericsson Vivaz. Now, this is an interesting phone. It's not quite a smartphone but we wouldn't call it just a basic multimedia phone either. I first saw it at Mobile World Congress. Of course, it's the big cellphone show in Barcelona. I saw this last February. It isn't an Android phone. It actually runs Symbian. Now, Symbian is an operating system we haven't seen for a long time. It does run on the background on some Nokia phones, other Sony Ericsson phones, but we really haven't seen it in a device for a major carrier in a while. And it's pretty apparent why. This system hasn't been updated in a long time. I mean, if you ask me, 3 years ago, it would have been fine. But here, it's really showing its age. It lacks a lot of the features that we see with iOS which powers the iPhone and with Android. Things like, programable shortcuts, things like widgets, all the things you can do on those phones, really can't do here. Also, it has resistive touchscreen, so what that means is you have to press a little harder than you do on a capacitive touchscreen which most smartphones have. And really, you should use the stylus. One does come with the phone. This isn't exactly the phone that comes with a stylus. I forgot it, but you can use just one like this. It's gonna make for the best experience. You can use your finger, but like I said you've really gotta press hard. It's better if you use your fingernail. If you have a stylus, of course, there's really no way to attach it to the phone to keep it hanging, but you have to bring this along and have to use it. But overall, pretty simple design. I do like the exterior design of the phone a lot. This is a galaxy blue color. The phone comes in with a few other options as well like a red or silver, but AT&T is only selling this option right now. Back of the phone looks like a regular camera. It is an 8.1-megapixel lens. You'll see it have a camera lens right there along with the flash. It is pretty thin, pretty light. I do like the tapered ends. Large touchscreen on the front and which has a few physical controls down below. You'll see there's talk and end/power key. There's also the menu button. Main menu design is pretty simple. You just press that. You can scroll through them as you wish, access interior menus by just selecting each option. For a long time, Sony Ericsson uses proprietary connection so that means you have to use their own headset or their own charger. Now, it's really great. They have regular micro USB connections so that's for a USB cable if you wanna sync the phone with your computer or if you wanna plug in a charger. Also, it had a 3.5-mm headset jack so that means you can use your own headset. So, really glad Sony Ericsson took those few steps. For a long time, we're really, really begging for them. So, use your own stuff. You don't have to buy any special accessories. That's great. Here on the side, there's a volume rocker and there's also 2 controls for activating the video camera and the regular camera, so that's of same lens but just you get 2 separate shortcuts. It does have a virtual keyboard. It seems pretty fine. It is a little bit small considering the size of the display which is only 3.2 inches and you can use your fingers. But like I said, the stylus is probably a little better. Of course, that means you have to use one hand. So keep that in mind. If you don't wanna use the virtual keyboard, you can use handwriting recognition as well. It works pretty well. You just need to use that stylus of course because if you use your fingers, it's not gonna be very accurate. Power button is located here on the top so this is dedicated, so you're not gonna pressing it accidentally. And besides the standard ports for the headset and charger, the Vivaz does have a microSD slot. So it's great that Sony Ericsson also ditched that proprietary connection it used to use and they gave us a standard memory card. So you'll get text and multimedia messaging. It has some organizer options. It has a music player and a camera as I mentioned. It really centers on multimedia. As for the price, it's $79.99 with a 2-year contract and after a $50 mail-in-rebate. That's a fair price, but I think when you're getting a look at the Symbian operating system, you're looking at the number of features. I would rather to spend a little more even up to $100 and get a full-fledged smartphone that runs on Android. I'm Kent German and this is the Sony Ericsson Vivaz.