The trend of camera phones is not a new one, but it’s fairly old ground to tread upon. While camera phones do not have the native photo-taking or video-recording prowess that the more powerful compacts boast, they have one thing that goes in their favor: all-in-one portability. We find out how the 8.1-megapixel Sony Ericsson Vivaz fare since our early look at it.
The Vivaz is a good-looking and lightweight phone that fits snugly in our palm, especially since it comes with a slightly curved back. The front of the phone is mostly taken up by its 3.2-inch resistive screen and three thin navigational buttons at the bottom. Although we liked the fact that SE took a minimalistic approach with the Vivaz, we felt that the navigational buttons at the front were a little too thin and difficult to press.
The screen, like most phones, is susceptible to finger prints, and framed by a predominantly plastic body. The set given to us came encased in radical pink that we found was relatively chic and fashionable. Another thing to note: the back of the phone actually resembles the front of an ultra-thin compact camera sans lens cover.
Overall, the Vivaz is a relatively attractive device in terms of physical attributes - at 107 x 51.7 x 12.5mm and a mere 97g, it outshines most of its competitors in terms of portability.
While we were a little apprehensive about its resistive screen, it was pretty responsive when we got down to business. We found that typing was a little iffy but manageable. However, if you are expecting the same browsing fluidity found in capacitive screens, you are forewarned. Don't be alarmed when you see an alphanumeric keyboard popping out when you select any text field; this can be easily changed to a mini-QWERTY or a full QWERTY keyboard. However, the mini-QWERTY keyboard is almost impossible to use without a dedicated stylus. We also noticed that the accelerometer sensor takes a while to kick in and auto-rotate between portrait and landscape, but it's not a major flaw.
The camera and video capabilities of the camera are above average, and the phone even comes with a video-rec dedicated button beside the camera button. What's great about the Vivaz is its continuous auto-focus during video recording, along with the fact that it allows users to record videos in 720p HD resolution at 24 to 25 frames per second. Unfortunately, while it works for the most parts, there are times when it is not so receptive and fails to focus. Photo-quality wise, it is definitely one of the better camera phones out there, displaying decent color vibrancy, sharpness and quality.
The audio playback is definitely decent, and comes with the trademark SE music browsing interface. The Vivaz ships with a 3.5mm earphone jack, unlike the Satio, and comes with TV-out capability for HD video playback on the big screen .Viewing YouTube videos on the phone is an overall pleasant experience as it is speedy and fast, though the app unexpectedly crashed on us once.
In our opinion, the one weakness of the Vivaz is its dated Symbian 60 5th Edition OS. In general, surfing and navigation isn't as intuitive as say, the Android and iPhone OS. However, it is definitely user-friendly enough for the average user.
The Vivaz is definitely a good choice for those looking for a multimedia-centric mobile device - it displays decent audio playback, takes above-average photos, and has functional video-recording capabilities. At $798, it is a steal, simply because you are playing for a phone with capabilities close to a compact camera. However, if you are looking for a mobile phone that offers you a more modern user interface and a greater variety of apps, then you might have to look elsewhere.