Sony Ericsson Hazel review: Earth, wind, green heart
Tiny retail box with not much in it
The Hazel package fits the “eco-friendly” bill. It’s really tiny and made of recycled paper. Inside, there’s the energy-efficient charger and a basic pair of headphones with a FastPort connector. The phone comes with an electronic in-phone manual to cut the usual paperwork.
There’s no data cable supplied. That would’ve been no problem if the Hazel had a microUSB port. In this case you could’ve used any compatible cable. Unfortunately, the Hazel’s FastPort means you’re in trouble unless of course you’re upgrading from an older Sony Ericsson phone. That’s not exactly eco-friendly either.
Sony Ericsson Hazel 360-degree spin
The Sony Ericsson Hazel is a rather chubby slider measuring 102 x 49.5x 16 mm. However, the unusual curved design makes up for that. The phone fits snugly in the palm with the keypad slid both in and out. It is still a reasonably pocketable slider. The weight of 120 g might sound a bit too much but it actually makes the phone feel quite robust.
Design and construction
Two color options are announced for the Sony Ericsson Hazel - Superior Black and Passionate Rouge. It's pretty similar to the paintjob selection for the Elm. Red is perhaps not everyone's (or should we say "men's") cup of tea but the black version is certainly looking to respond to unisex demand. By the way, it’s more of a black on silver – the rear and the numpad are finished in silver, with subtle matching accents up front. Another thing to note rearside is the fine grooved pattern – it looks great and gives the user a better grip too. Just like the Elm, the Hazel's body is said to be splash resistant.
An underlying feature of the GreenHeart duo is the ergonomically curved rear: human curvature as Sony Ericsson call it. As soon as you hold the phone in your hand, you'll get the point. The handset fits your palm nice and tight and in the case of the Hazel, makes sure to slightly raise the keypad for better comfort. Nice, indeed!
The ergonomic curve and a few shared styling elements are not the only things the new GreenHeart duo has in common. In fact, both devices have the same list of features.
One thing we should note though. Almost the whole rear of candybar Elm is made of metal for a very solid upmarket feel. There's a bit of faux metal finish on the Hazel but it's actually all plastic. Real metal would've perhaps made it too heavy – the Hazel isn't slim at all.
Below the screen there is a neat and spacious navigation deck centered around a rectangular D-pad. The layout is clean and very user-friendly. All keys are just the right size, comfortable and responsive.
The alphanumeric keypad is equally impressive. Buttons are flat but well sized and solid to press, so quick typing on the Hazel is a cinch.
The left side of Sony Ericsson Hazel features nothing but the regular FastPort. A standard 3.5mm jack / microUSB combo would’ve fitted an eco-friendly phone like the Hazel much better but users are in no luck. So much for the green side of it – using proprietary connectivity ports is everything but eco-friendly.
The right side of the handset is the top side in digicam terms. It hosts the volume keys and the camera button.
The volume rocker feels somewhat stiff, but it’s nothing to hurt usability. Pressing the volume keys in power-saving mode shortly brings up the clock and notification icons (if any) on the otherwise completely blank screen.
The shutter key is very comfortable - with a soft but distinct half press for autofocus.
Backstage we find the 5 megapixel autofocus camera lens, accompanied by a LED flash. The loudspeaker grill is also here.
Removing the battery cover reveals the Sony Ericsson BST-43 1000 mAh Li-Polymer battery. It is quoted at up to 450 hours of stand-by and up to 10 hours of talk time.
In reality, battery life ranged over three to six days on a single charge, depending mainly on multimedia consumption.
Nearby is the microSD card slot which is ready to accommodate cards of up to 16GB of memory. The phone worked pretty well with our reasonably full 16GB microSD card. The only downside to mention here is the fact that you have to remove the back cover to get to the microSD card. It’s totally hot-swappable though.
The SIM compartment is under the battery.
We have no issues with the build quality of the Sony Ericsson Hazel. It’s an all plastic phone but feels quite solid. And the hand feel is near perfect. The curved shape and friendly controls make it especially comfortable to operate. The smooth and solid slider run and the nice numpad are worth noting too.
We would have preferred a standard 3.5mm audio jack over the proprietary port, but at least you get an adapter in the retail box.
A vibrant 2.6-inch display
Sony Ericsson Hazel comes with a 2.6" 16M-color display of QVGA resolution. The size is a serious advantage: nearly unmatched by feature phones and easily putting some smartphones to shame. The Hazel display is also covered with mineral glass and is said to be scratch resistant.
Dry facts aside, the screen is gorgeous: image quality is remarkable. The QVGA resolution is hardly anything to write home about but the crisp and vibrant images are what really matters here.
The Hazel display is also really impressive with its sunlight legibility. Out there in direct sunlight, the Hazel screen puts to shame pretty much all Sony Ericsson feature phone displays we've seen so far. It's easily on par with the iPhone's screen in this respect.