Sony Ericsson Z530 review: The music beetle
Sony Ericsson launched Z530, their latest clamshell with music features just as we expect the W300 model to hit the market. At first glance, the two phones look very similar since they have exactly the same dimensions, but the W300 has more features and a better display. The Sony Ericsson Z530 seems to be the first officially released phone working with the new Memory Stick Micro (M2) card type. The advantage of Z530 is the expected lower price.
- Relatively small size & weight
- Elegant design
- Solid construction
- Memory card slot
- Affordable price
- Low resolution main display
- Poor camera
- No FM radio
- Controversial keypad design
- Memory Stick Micro (M2) card type is still very new and unpopular
The Z530 model comes to fill a somewhat wide market hole for mid-low devices. The looks of the phone will mainly attract women but the strange construction of the opened phone will definitely put off some of them. The phone is intended to replace the Z520 model and compared to it, the new handset offers a bunch of new features. The main display uses the new UBC technology and works in 65K colors. Also, the new Z530 has a memory card slot and more internal memory.
Our first impressions of the Sony Ericsson Z530 were that the phone feels surprisingly solid for its plastic look. The covers are well elaborated and there are no crevices between them. During the testing period, the phone did not produce a single creek sound nor was there any sign of loosening of the construction. A well deserved compliment should go to the manufacturer for that. The matt rubber plastic on the front and back cover is also very nice. It feels good to touch, gives a grip and doesn't catch any fingerprints. The bad thing about it is that it tends to develop sweat spots from the user's skin moisture. This may confuse a little because the surface of the phone will look bumpy.
Nice and small
Z530 is a relatively small phone for its class. With its 90 x 47 x 24 mm and 93 g it leaves a good impression of a small device. When held in hand, it looks normal and when opened, the size of the phone enables maximum functionality because of the balanced proportions. The opening mechanism works fine and shouldn't give you any troubles. The phone can be opened using only one hand. There is an option in the menu to accompany the opening process with a polyphonic sound. This will be the only sound that can be heard when opening the clamshell.
There are not many things on the outside of the phone. A Z530i sign is located on a metal plate on the front cover, surrounded by the matt rubber plastic mentioned above. The second display of the device is located just above it. The plate and the display are the only parts that catch fingerprints easily. On top of the front cover are the camera lens and a self-portrait mirror. In Z530 the camera lens has no protection by a mechanical cover. The front panel features exchangeable covers, which is something we have got used to see in the Z-series. The phone is offered in three color combinations: Soft Black, Chromic Grey, and Elegant Red but their availability is market dependant.
The back cover really lacks any noticeable elements. In the upper part are the loud-speaker grid and the manufacturer logo (the green-silver "ball"). Below we see an engraved Sony Ericsson sign. Basically there is no button or jut for opening the battery cover. You need to use your fingernail in order to lose the cover. When you have managed that, you will see the Lithium-Ion battery of 900 mAh, the SIM card bed beneath it and the M2 card slot on the right side. Regrettably we didn't have a M2 card during the testing and couldn't test it. This type of memory cards is still very new and is not available on the market. It was announced in September 2005 by Sony as an alternative to its "big brothers" - the Memory Stick Pro and Duo. It is targeted at the mobile phones market for its small size 15x12.5mm. But still it is compatible with the Memory Stick Pro cards and it can be loaded into an adapter card and inserted into a Memory Stick Pro slot on a notebook computer or a PC card reader.
The left side of the phone has two significant elements. Firstly, at the top is the dual volume button. When pressed while the device is closed the outer display shows information about the battery status. And secondly, in the bottom part of the left side is the M2 sign which indicates where the memory card slot is (under the back cover, however). The right side of the phone only features the Infrared receiver. On the top of the phone is the popular Sony Ericsson "hanger" which hides the antenna. On the bottom is the cable port.
The keypad design of Z530 is very interesting. The numeric keys are made of spheres that are overlapping with each other. This composition is suitable for SMS writing and the buttons are easy to distinguish. But the other parts of the keypad have some flaws. The soft keys in the upper part are too small and the clamshell construction makes hard the access to them. They are located above the Back button and the "C" clear button. The four-way control button and the main center button can also be easily mistaken.
In the bottom part of the keypad are the Activity Menu button and the Switch Off button. They are both so tiny that are hardly usable. As for the switch off button, it's not as important as it's not supposed to be used very often. When pressed once, it brings up the Profiles menu and when long pressed, it switches off the phone. The Activity Menu button though, is very useful, for it brings up a tabbed menu with Shortcuts, recent events, etc., but due to its tiny size I guess it will not be very popular among the users.
The backlighting of the keypad is not the best one. It glooms in an orange nuance and tries to cover the whole keypad but is rather poor. However, the buttons are well elaborated and thus can be easily distinguished even in the dark. Only the soft keys and the bottom keys are really hard to use but that has nothing to do with the backlighting.
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