The mirror-like clamshell Z610 has a magic top half and an invisible external display; it supports 3G, has a 2 megapixel camera, and has one of the most luxurious keypads ever seen on the mobile market. Memory card slot is available, of course. In other words, Sony Ericsson's portfolio has been enriched with another top-quality model.
Generally, I am not an admirer of manufacturers, who frequently release new models with the only objective to fill in their portfolio, even though these do not bring along any innovations. In this aspect, many of you may find the new Sony Ericsson Z610 a perfect example of the "no innovation" trend as in functional terms it is fully identical to the K610 model. Yet, allow me to disagree with you: no matter the fact that SE Z610 (on the market since September) is going to offer the same equipment at a price about 90 euros higher than the one of SE K610, this new SE model represents a new design philosophy and an utterly innovative construction. Compared to Z610 the forerunner Sony Ericsson K610 looks rather boring.
It has been a really long time since Sony Ericsson last succeeded to inject such a high dose of charisma into a mobile phone. Well, its phones have always tended to look solid and carry significant features (some of the best as to their price category). Yet, SE Z610 is more like a pretty girl you see on the street. You turn around staring when she passes you, completely ignoring her IQ. The entire front cover is glossy and therefore perfectly reflects near-by objects (have a look at the images with a key and a pair of pliers). The phone is going to be offered in three color versions - grey, blue, and pink. We have tested the least attractive grey one. According to us, turquoise blue and pink suit the phone best.
The front side is dominated by the camera lens and the solid joint of phone's clamshell construction. The surface around the camera lens is curved in an attractive way breaking even the glossy plate. Yet, the most beautiful part is still to come: Sony Ericsson Z610 has an invisible OLED display, which gets activated when the phone has been closed or any side key been pressed. For the rest of the time it remains hidden behind the reflexive surface of the device. Sony Ericsson has apparently copied this interesting effect from Sony's tiny portable music players. Impressive.
The external informative display has 21 x 8 mm and resolution of 128 x 36 monochrome pixels. It is horizontal and visualizes standard details like signal strength, battery state, and time. When the phone is set to quiet profile, a canceled musical note also appears on the display; a newly received message is alerted with a tiny envelope and an arrow. Missed calls and messages cannot be displayed simultaneously as the display would not fit so many icons. That is why missed calls are always given an advantage: the above mentioned arrow turns the other way and shadows the envelope. On the outer display you could also scroll the name of the song you are currently listening to or the name of the person who is calling you. Scrolling is smooth, characters do not get blurred.
To be explicit, let me also mention the exact dimensions of Sony Ericsson Z610: 95 x 49 x 20 mm, 110 g. Let's now have a look at its sides: nothing on the right, nothing on the top, just a Fast-Port connector in the bottom. All external control elements are concentrated on the left side of the device. Here they are from bottom to top: a LED (untraditionally situated), which only informs you about three basic activities of the phone: interrupted green light signals that the phone is on, interrupted red light shows lack of energy, while constant red light means that the device is being charged. Unfortunately, the phone offers no light alerts of planned appointments, missed calls or received messages, which I consider to be a significant con as such helping tool should be available in any clamshell.
The rear cover of the device is flat, smooth; in a color nuance that perfectly synchronizes with the front reflexive surface. So what could you find in the back? The manufacturer's logo and the model denomination (located here for the first time); the loud speaker grill, and a connector for an external antenna protected with a rubber cap. Once you remove the back cover, you will see a Lithium-Ion battery with capacity of 950 mAh (BST-33) advertised to provide energy for up to 400 hours of stand-by or up to 420 minutes of call time.
The SIM card is inserted into a bed under the battery; In SE Z610, unlike K610, there is no space for a memory card. Instead, the memory card slides into a slot with rubber cap (marked as M2) located on one of the sides, above the state diode. M2 is another name for the cards of the Memory Stick Micro type. One such card (64 MB) is enclosed in the original package, whose content is otherwise rather limited: the above mentioned memory card, a USB data cable, a CD with software, and documentation. No earphones or cleaning clothe.
And here are the last two elements on the left side of the device still waiting to be mentioned - a dual volume-control button and a play/pause button. Sony Ericsson Z610 looks pretty solid; no creaky sounds were heard during the testing process.