Sony Ericsson Vivaz review: Viv A-to-Z

GSMArena team, 09 February 2010.
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Sony Ericsson Vivaz 360-degree spin

At 107 x 51.7x 12.5 mm the Sony Ericsson Vivaz is smaller than it appears in the photos – it will slip right into any pocket. It tips the scales at the neat 97 grams and that’s quite an advantage over the majority of competitors. For its impressive list of features, it’s a very compact phone.

The recent trend in Sony Ericsson design – the curved back – makes another appearance on the Vivaz. It helps the phone fit snugly in your palm, and the device feels even more compact and friendly.

Design and construction

The design of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz follows in the footsteps of the Symbian S60 5th edition phones that came before it. A touchscreen with nHD resolution (360 x 640 pixels) and three buttons bellow – the menu key in the middle, call keys on the sides.

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz shares a lot of DNA with the Satio and it looks it, but the top and bottom are curved, which breaks away from the rectangular front of the Satio. By the way, we were amazed by the uncanny resemblance with LG Viewty Smart. That’s looks though, the Vivaz feel is indeed superior.

The Vivaz comes in four color versions: Silver Moon, Cosmic Black, Galaxy Blue, Venus Ruby. We’re having the pleasure of the Silver Moon variety.

The body of the Vivaz is almost entirely made of plastic but this phone is among the rare few that don’t make us miss metal so badly. Metal would have brought up the weight too – at 97 grams it’s one of the lightest phones with a display of 3” or more.

Most of the front of the Vivaz is taken up by the 3.2" touchscreen with a resolution of 640 x 360 pixels. The resistive unit supports up to 16M colors and is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the device. It has nice picture quality with excellent contrast for a TFT unit.

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The touchscreen excels in terms of image quality • the human curvature design philosophy in action

Resistive displays generally need more pressure to get a click registered. As we found out though, the Vivaz screen response is excellent. The resistive technology is certainly not a drawback here.

Unfortunately, the sunlight legibility is poor – the Vivaz does slightly better than the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, which has a screen with the same size, resolution and touch technology.

The earpiece is at the top, along with an ambient light sensor. There’s no proximity sensor or an auto-locking feature, so the display is always susceptible to incidental presses during a call. Perhaps they’ll fix that in a future software update.

The hardware keys below the display are a bit too thin but still usable. At least they blend quite nicely with the overall design.

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The three hardware keys at the bottom are thin and a bit stiff • the earpiece at the top

The left side of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz features the 3.5mm audio jack at the very top, a microUSB port just bellow it and the loudspeaker a bit further down. The microUSB port is covered by a plastic flap. The Vivaz, along with the XPERIAs, seems to have broken the FastPort curse.

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3.5mm jack and microUSB port score two points for convergence

The right side hosts an array of controls. In the top half, there’s the volume rocker, which also doubles as a digital zoom control. The bottom half offers not one but two shutter keys – one for the still camera and one for the camcorder. Between the volume rocker and the shutters, there’s an otherwise hidden LED that flashes when you turn the camera on in either mode. Above the volume rocker is another light that shines red while the phone is charging.

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There are two shutter keys on the Vivaz – one for the still camera and one for the camcorder

The power key of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz is placed at the top. As on any other Symbian handset, you can also use the power key for locking the phone (in this case double clicking the power key is enough), switching profiles or handling the memory card. All there is at the bottom is the lanyard eyelet and a mouthpiece.

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The power/lock key is on top • the lanyard attaches at the bottom

The back of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz reveals its standout feature – the camera. The 8MP lens is unusually placed almost in the middle of the phone and is left completely unprotected. There is a LED flash, the main purpose of which is to serve as a video light. A small red light next to the camera blinks during recording.

The placement of the camera is uncommon but there’s a very good reason for putting it where it is. You can hold the Sony Ericsson Vivaz very comfortably with two hands without risk of smudging the lens with your fingers.

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The star of the show: 8-megapixel autofocus camera with 720p video capability

Removing the battery cover on the Vivaz reveals the 1200 mAh Li-Po EP500 battery (the bulkier Satio had a 1000 mAh one).

We are yet to test its performance properly, and we'll update this part of the review soon.

The microSD card slot is below the battery cover, though not under the battery itself. The Vivaz comes with an 8GB microSD card in the package and supports up to 16GB cards. The SIM card slot is here too – the two card compartments flank the battery. The SIM slot solution is simple – you can just slide the card in and out.

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Taking a peek inside the Vivaz

The black plastic around the display and the display itself will quickly become a fingerprint mess. The plastic on the back is glossy too but on the Silver Moon prints are as good as invisible. The other color versions don’t fare as well however, especially the Cosmic Black, as we were able to confirm ourselves.

The plastic on the sides of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz appears black, but it’s actually dark blue (it’s blue in all but the Venus Ruby version) and reflects the light in an interesting way as you tilt the phone.

The Vivaz is very compact – it’s smaller than the Samsung S8000 Jet but packs a slightly bigger display as the bezel around the screen is quite thin. All the controls are easily reachable and despite being quite thin, they should be easy enough to use even if you have big fingers.

The curved back of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz lets it sit more naturally in the hand but it’s not too pronounced so it still fits well into pockets.

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Sony Ericsson Vivaz in the hand

The build quality is solid enough, but there’s a noticeable gap between the display glass and the sides of the phone that quickly accumulates dust. All in all, it’s a well-built handset using quality plastics. Compact and lightweight, the Vivaz is a very friendly device, and beautifully styled too.

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You won't believe the Vivaz skill next to big guys like the iPhone and the Samsung Omnia HD

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