Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro

First Fumble: Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro

by Ben Smith on 7th April 2010

In the back of a dingy bar I had my first hands-on fumble – unofficially – with a Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro recently. Announced in February this is the ‘sister’ device to the Vivaz now hitting UK operators which lacks a keyboard but sports an 8MP camera versus the Pro’s 5.

This was a prototype unit and the most unofficial of brief fiddles, so it’s tough to draw many final conclusions – we’ll have a full review and give-away of a standard Vivaz soon thanks to O2 – but it was a tantalizing taste of what’s to come…

The Good

  • The Pro is a Symbian device but with the same approach to custom skinning the Satio had – it looks good, especially with a clear bright screen. We’re told the screen is resistive, but it feels solid without that squidgy layer often found on resistive screens.
  • It’s light. Surprisingly light. With the smooth shape this should be a fairly pocket-able device.
  • It has a 1200mAh battery which (we’re told) is very good.
  • It’s snappy, including when multi-tasking. The UI and apps are good and responsive as is automatic screen rotation.
  • The keyboard layout feels nice under-hand and I worked up a reasonable typing speed.  The centralised centre space bar feels natural and it’s comfortable to hold and type.

The Bad

  • Symbian’s touch UI – skinned and pretty or not – is an acquired taste. It feels pretty dated compared to the best of the competition. Contrary to some speculation it’s not Symbian^3.
  • The screen has been described as ‘scratch proof’. It’s not. The model we saw was badly scratched with a haze of scuffs and marks over the surface.
  • Build quality was poor in places with several areas with a ‘hollow plastic’ feel and creaking in use.  The hardware call / hang-up buttons also have a poor action, which coupled with the device’s lightness it gives a strangely cheap feel overall.
  • The keyboard slide mechanism is only OK. The keyboard slides out a long way and the mechanism feels solid enough, but lacks the smoothness or well-sprung action of our favourites.
  • The keyboard buttons are a ‘bubble’ style, poking out from the flat surface in a rounded style. This gave a soft action which lacked the precision and click of the best keyboards around.

Limited testing of the camera suggested promising results but we were unable to take the test images we shot off the device for a better look.

Sony Ericsson are to be applauded for recognising consumers’ enthusiasm for touch phones with a full keyboard and this phone’s talents are probably still to shine in imaging quality.  However comparisons with the Nokia N97 mini are unavoidable… At this stage it looks like a worthy challenger, but hardware and build quality concerns means there’s no clear winner at this stage.

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