Sony Ericsson – Vivaz Pro review

smartphone with a slide-out keyboard
Photo of Sony Ericsson – Vivaz Pro
£300 (SIM-free), from free on contract

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro shares a lot of characteristics with the original Vivaz, and throws in a slide-out QWERTY keyboard which makes it more comfortable for those who do a lot of mobile email or texting from their smartphones.

It is interesting that Sony Ericsson has reduced the camera’s capability from 8 megapixels in the original Vivaz to 5 megapixels here, but to be honest that isn’t a difference that is likely to affect many people.

Photos we took with the Vivaz Pro were fine, and the other headline camera feature of the original Vivaz, the ability to shoot 720p video, remains. And you get useful camera features like a macro mode, smile shot, panorama mode and an LED light.

Unfortunately, the disappointments we had with the original Vivaz are intact here. Most significantly there are issues with build quality and with the choice of operating system.

Looking at the first of those, when you are spending around £300 on a handset (SIM-free) you really do have the right to expect good quality build and that simply isn’t the case here. The chassis materials feel somewhat flimsy, and the hinge mechanism on the slide-out keyboard, while it works well enough, feels low-grade.

The keyboard itself leaves something to be desired too. The keys are small and don’t have a very solid return when pressed. We felt that to get the best results we had to use our fingernails and move around fairly slowly. We’ve seen a lot better.

We aren’t fans of the resistive touchscreen, either. It just isn’t responsive enough to finger presses for us, and we far prefer the capacitive type.

What will put a lot of people off the Vivaz Pro, though, is the choice of operating system. Symbian S60 5th Edition never endeared itself to us from the start. It felt like what it is: Symbian’s S60 with touch support added, rather than an OS built from the bottom up specifically for touch. Sadly that has not changed, and the quirky mix of single and double taps is one annoyance that has not been ironed out.

There is another small but irritating feature too. The on/off switch, as with the original Vivaz, is located on the back of the chassis near the camera lens. It is small and awkward to get at, and pretty much impossible to press one-handed.

Still, the Vivaz Pro is brimming with good features. 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, a very good music player, FM radio, YouTube and TV-Out support are among them. The touchscreen measures 3.3-inches, which makes it viable for Web browsing, but when you zoom in text does not reflow, so reading a Web page can involve quite a lot of panning.

There are five home screens. Actually these are another bugbear for us as they aren’t as customisable as they should be. Out of the box one is a Twitter screen, one for favourite contacts, one for application shortcuts, one is a gallery and there’s a blank screen. While you can customise these a bit, only one screen can be dedicated to app shortcuts.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Contact: 08705 238 238

In the end, while the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro has what on paper looks to be a good set of specifications, including coming with an 8GB microSD card, in reality it falls down in several ways, not least the usability and build quality departments, making it rather disappointing.