Sony Ericsson Zylo review: Walkman rewind

GSMArena team, 30 July 2010.
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Another eco-box with no USB cable inside

The Zylo comes in one of those “eco-friendly” boxes that Sony Ericsson just love to use. It’s really tiny and made of recycled paper. Inside, there’s the energy-efficient charger and a basic pair of headphones on a FastPort connector. A few localized quick guides are also provided.

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Sony Ericsson Zylo unboxed

Sony Ericsson didn’t bother to supply a data cable. The Zylo uses a FastPort, which means you have to buy one.

Sony Ericsson Zylo 360-degree spin

The Sony Ericsson Zylo is a compact, though not super slim, slider measuring 103 x 52 x 16 mm. The phone fits comfortably in the palm both with the keypad slid in or out. It weighs 115g, which is by no means heavy. Very good screen size and comfortable navigation are great things to have in such a small and friendly phone.

Design and construction

The Sony Ericsson Zylo is completely made from plastic but the quality of the finish is fine. We don’t mind the lack of metal – not in this price range. The Zylo is really solidly built with no body creaks or parts that look vulnerable.

The back and front panels use glossy plastic but the coating is fairly fingerprint resistant. A faux metal frame runs around the handset’s body. The blue rim of the D-pad and the Walkman logo are the only color accents up front. The backside of the slider has a fine dotted pattern that looks good. Although there’s nothing too fancy about the Zylo we agree with Sony Ericsson on this one. The phone has the right balance of style and comfort.

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Sony Ericsson Zylo live shots

The ergonomic curve at the rear that we saw in some previous handsets like the Elm and the Hazel is to be seen in the Zylo too. It’s not as prominent as in the GreenHeart family, but still enough to make a difference.

The Sony Ericsson Zylo is equipped with a 2.6" 16M-color display of QVGA resolution – perhaps the same unit we already met in the eco-friendly Hazel. The size is a serious advantage: it’s nearly unmatched by feature phones and easily puts some smartphones to shame. The Zylo display is also covered with mineral glass and is said to be scratch resistant.

The screen image quality is quite good. The QVGA resolution is hardly anything to write home about but the crisp and vibrant images are what really matters here.

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The Sony Ericsson Zylo display is awesome indoors, but just average outdoors

Unfortunately the Zylo’s display is not nearly as good when it comes to sunlight legibility. In direct sunlight the Zylo is on par with most Sony Ericsson feature phones – an average score would be fair.

Above the screen we find the lonely earpiece and the Sony Ericsson logo.

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The earpiece

Below the screen there is a crowded navigation deck centered around a circular D-pad. The layout was a challenge perhaps but the end result is quite user-friendly. Even the smaller keys are tactile and responsive.

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The keys below the screen are just great to use

The circular shapes dominate the setup. The D-pad is just the right size with a very prominent border and an ample center key. The call buttons are curved in and stick to your thumb. Even the smallest round knobs – Clear key and Activity menu – are very thumb-friendly. The two soft keys are tiny and perhaps further beneath the screen than you’d think comfortable. In reality, they’re no problem to use.

The alphanumeric keypad is quite good too. Buttons are well sized and solid to press. Nicely curved, they fit easily on your fingers, so quick typing on the Zylo is a cinch.

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The excellent numpad

The left side of the Sony Ericsson Zylo houses the regular FastPort and the mouthpiece. A standard 3.5mm jack would’ve suited a Walkman phone like the Zylo much better, but no such luck.

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The Sony Ericsson Zylo's left side view: FastPort and the mic hole

The right side of the handset hosts the volume controls and the Walkman button. The volume rocker is quite small, but its shape and nice response save the day.

The tiny Walkman key will start the music player instantly. It also doubles as a shutter key when you’ve got the camera on – it won’t start it for you.

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The volume rocker and Walkman button are on the right

Backstage we find the 3 megapixel fixed-focus camera lens with no protection. The loudspeaker grill and the two Sony Ericsson/Walkman logos are also here.

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The 3 megapixel camera and the loudspeaker at the back

Removing the battery cover reveals the Sony Ericsson BST-39 900 mAh Li-Ion battery. It is quoted at up to 400 hours of stand-by and up to 4 hours of talk time. In reality, battery life ranged over three to four days on a single charge.

The microSD card slot is ready to accommodate cards of up to 16GB. The phone worked pretty well with our reasonably full 16GB microSD card. The only downside here is that you need to remove the back cover to get to the memory slot. It’s completely hot-swappable though.

The SIM compartment is next to the microSD slot, but you need to have removed the battery to access it.

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The Sony Ericsson Hazel is powered by a 900 mAh Li-Ion battery

The build quality of the Sony Ericsson Zylo is excellent despite being an all-plastic phone. The solid feel in hand and great palm fit are more than welcome. The styling is retro but there’s some of that old-fashioned quality too that you don’t get too often these days. The slightly curved shape and friendly controls make it especially comfortable to operate. The smooth and solid slider movement and the nice numberpad are worth a mention too.

What we really miss is a standard 3.5mm audio jack or microUSB port at least - there’s a proprietary FastPort port instead. This is an omission we’re not willing to forgive – regardless of the phone’s low price and excellent ergonomics.

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The Sony Ericsson Zylo will put you at ease and stick to your hand

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