By March 22, 2010

Sony Ericsson Vivaz review

Vivaz_Front2The Sony Ericsson Vivaz is the first of five new Sony Ericsson devices that will be available here in the UK over the coming month or so. To follow we have the Vivaz Pro, X10, X10 Mini and X10 Pro.

Not being a huge fan of the Symbian OS, the Vivaz brings a new lease of life to it as Sony Ericsson have created there own overlay to sit on top of the traditional one. This was one of the reasons I chose to review the device. Although I’m not a massive follower of Symbian we at tracyandmatt believe in giving all handsets a fair and unbiased review and that’s what the Vivaz will get. The other reason I wanted to get my hands on it was the fact that it records video in HD as well as having a 8.1mp camera.

Will the camera be as good as I think it will and has the new overlay disguised the OS enough? Only one way to find out and that’s to read on.


What’s in the box?

  • Device
  • Battery
  • USB Cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Stylus
  • Headphones
  • Manual/Warranty

For further details see Matt’s Vivaz unboxing video.


The ten second review:

  • Device: Sony Ericsson Vivaz
  • Price: £350 Sim Free or Free with a contract
  • Summary: A small touchscreen smart phone with a 8.1 camera and HD video recording.
  • Best of: Camera (in bright conditions), Games, WisePilot
  • Worst of: Screen Size, Feels a bit cheap, Camera in low light conditions.
  • Buy it now from: Various


Sony Ericsson Vivaz specification:

  • Chipset: PowerVR SGX Graphics
  • Speed: 720Mhz
  • Battery: Capacity: 1200 mAh
  • Display: 640 x 360 pixels/3.2" Touch Sensitive(Resistive)
  • Camera: 8.1 mega-pixels (auto-focus)
  • 4 x Digital Zoom
  • LED Flash
  • Image Stabilization
  • Geo Tagging
  • Video: Maximum Resolution: HD (720 x 480)
  • Video Streaming
  • FM Radio (RDS)
  • TrackID Music Recognition
  • Messaging: SMS / MMS (with video) / E-mail (POP3, SMTP, IMAP4, Exchange)
  • Built-in Twitter client
  • 75MB (internal)
  • microSDHC (external)
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g)
  • Bluetooth (2.1)
  • microUSB
  • 3.5mm Audio Connector
  • TV Out
  • AGPS
  • Google Maps
  • Accelerometer




On the top edge of the Vivaz is just the power switch.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz Top


The bottom houses only the microphone.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz Bottom


Over on the left side of the Vivaz all that is present is the MicroUSB port.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz Left Side


The right contains the up/down volume rocker as well as the camera and video camera buttons.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz Right Side


The back is quite good looking. It houses the camera lens and flash as well as a nice Sony Ericsson logo.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz Back


The front of the Vivaz is quite plain. Just the three buttons under the screen.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz Front






If you listened to Matt and I recently on the mobiletechaddicts podcast (we do it weekly!) you may have heard us both joking that the Vivaz feels like a toy or a dummy unit! It really does. At only 97 grams its seriously light weight. I don’t mean that in a negative way, it’s just that the Vivaz lighter than any decent phone we have reviewed in a long time. The Vivaz feels pretty good in the hand, although it does appear to look a little tall. Its 3.2 inch resistive screen takes up the majority of the devices face but above the screen there is a space of nearly an inch between the screen and the edge of the device.

One little problem I had which really got on my nerves was me not being able to tell at a glance which end of the phone was which. Yes, I’m being serious! I constantly found myself picking the device up and realising I was holding it upside down. If you look at the Vivaz quickly its not that clear which is the top and which is the bottom. A small niggle but one that got on my nerves.

In terms of build quality the Vivaz feels very plastic but this is one of the things that makes it lightweight. The metal buttons on the front and right side of the handset seem better as made of metal, but they are really thin.  Its a good looking device.

The OS on the Vivaz is Symbian but until you get into the menus you more than likely wouldn’t know. Sony Ericsson have put a nice skin over the top which is actually not bad.

Vivaz Home

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Home Screen


As you will see above, the home screen is made up of two parts, top and bottom. At the top are five icons. I’m sure you can change these but I couldn’t find out how to do it! As standard they are (from left to right) Favourite contacts, Twitter, Home, Photos and shortcuts. All fairly straight forward. The shortcuts one brings you to al list of most used apps. Great for accessing those things you use a lot. There are a few different options in terms of layout on the screen but I found this one to be the best to use and most attractive to look at.

At the bottom of the screen are a further four icons. These don’t have to stay on the screen and a press of the call end key will pop them back on the screen. They comprise of phone dialler, media, messages and search. The search tab will not only let you search the phone but will also allow for a quick web search. A good idea.

The Vivaz comes with a stylus. It does not live in the phone but instead its one of those ones that you can attach to the device and it will dangle like a phone charm. A big turn off for me.

So lets have a look at the main features on the Vivaz and see if they are any good.

Starting with the camera. At 8.1 mp I was expecting fantastic results and to be honest in really good daylight or with a lot of artificial light the camera was good. However in low light conditions it was very disappointing. The flash on the Vivaz doesn’t flash. You either have it on or off which is a bit pants if you ask me. The camera interface is simple to use. There are lots of options to help you get the shot you want but auto mode will be best for most occasions.

Below you will see two photos taken in bright indoor conditions. The one of the left is taken with the Vivaz on auto mode and the one on the right with my BlackBerry 9700 with its 3.1mp camera. I think its fair to say the BlackBerry stood its ground and there is not a great deal of difference in the two.


25022010016 IMG00095-20100318-1432

Vivaz vs BlackBerry Bold 9700



Vivaz camera test


As you can see above (Tesco) in decent light the Sony Ericsson does a reasonable job. The colours are bright and vibrant but still no comparison to a 8mp digital camera.


When it comes to relying on the flash that doesn’t flash its bad news for the Vivaz. The left hand picture is shot with the Vivaz and on the right by my BlackBerry. No contest here!


Flash Test


The video camera is ok but I don’t think its as good as i expected. For a phone its great but once again in low light conditions or at night its really not worth bothering.  As you will see in the video below, although the quality is ok the colours are not great. The sun wasn’t out when I shot it and I think that will make a big difference.


Sony Ericsson Vivaz sample video

One thing I did find a wee bit strange on the Vivaz is that it has two camera buttons located on its right hand side. Once is actually for the camera and the other for the video camera. I just cant figure why they need both when a single one would have done the job. Maybe its just me though!


The Sony Ericsson comes with built in APGS. Preloaded on the device is Google maps but as an added bonus so is WisePilot.




WisePilot seemed to work very well. Using only a 3.2 inch screen is not great for sat nav but considering it has not cost you anything its a bargain. I have used WisePilot on a few other Sony Ericsson devices and its always been reliable.


Typing messages on the Vivaz can be both good and bad. There are three options for keyboards. The first is an alphanumeric one like on traditional candy bar phones. This is a good one to use. Next is the mini QWERTY. If you have fingers the size of needles you will be able to type on it. Failing that its a stylus or nothing! Last and best of all is the full QWERTY. This automatically rotates the screen to landscape mode and its pretty good to type with. You get a slight bit of haptic feedback and the keys are a decent size. I just feel the mini one was a total waste of time!

You can see an example of the keyboard in action in my Vivaz demo video.

The Vivaz comes with some decent applications preloaded. For social media there are Twitter and a Facebook apps. The Twitter one is not very good and I would suggest that you download a 3rd party one if using the Vivaz. There are two main reasons I don’t like it. Firstly, you can only get 20 tweets on a page. Then you are redirected to the twitter web page. Kind of defeats the object of having the app! Secondly, the text on the page is just too small.

The Facebook app however seemed very good. I slowly logged in as I couldn’t change away from the alphanumeric keyboard and after that it was surprisingly pleasant. I could do most things on the app that can be done on other platforms. The interface was attractive and overall I was happy with it. Its not easy typing on the small resistive touch screen.

Time for a moan: Like all Symbian devices there is one thing in particular that really gets on my nerves. Every time you want to do something on the device that requires data it asks you if you want to connect to the internet. Of course I want to, other wise I would not have opened the application! In fact with the Facebook app it asks on two separate pages. Please get rid of this silly problem Symbian. Its crazy.

Worldmate is another app on the Vivaz I like. I use Wordmate on my BlackBerry so it was nice to see it on here. If you have not used it before its a handy thing to have if you travel overseas. To cut a long story short you have the following features. World clocks: where you can view several different time zones on one page.  Flight status and schedules: If you book a flight you can forward the booking email to Worldmate and your flights will appear in the app. World weather. Day/night map. Currency converter. Local search and hotel bookings. Clearly if you don’t ever travel abroad then this will be no use to you at all!

YouTube was another app that I was a little disappointed with. The app itself seemed to work okay but the quality of the video was not good at all. Shame.

There is a fantastic game on the Vivaz called SSX3. Its a snowboarding game which allows you to use the accelerometer to move left and right while using two on screen keys to achieve tricks. No quite as good as on the iPhone but a huge bonus for the Vivaz. Well I thought so!

Rally Master Pro is also on the Vivaz. I thought it would be a bit poo but I was so wrong. It rocked! Game play was great and the graphics were excellent. Good job Sony Ericsson!

The Vivaz comes with Quickoffice on it to allow you to use Word and Excel documents. Like I have said in other Symbian reviews this would be decent if you did not have to pay for a license, so as it stands it sucks!

Music. The speaker on the Vivaz is certainly not the best. I listened to some Metallica and through the speaker it didn’t do them justice. With the headphones plugged in though it was fantastic. The music player interface is easy to use and its happy to run in the background. My only criticism was I could not get it do display any album artwork. Not a big deal but it looks nice.



Overall I was a little disappointed with the Vivaz. I feel mainly let down by how bad the camera and video camera was in low light conditions. If i owned the Vivaz and wanted to record a video and it wasn’t bright and sunny I more than likely wouldn’t bother. If these features are not a big deal for you and you like the look of the interface then you will probably like the Vivaz. Its not a bad device but its not as good as other Symbian ones on the market. To be totally honest I think that the X10 Mini will walk all over the Vivaz. I know its a different OS but if the two were here now I know which one I would be using.


Posted by: James

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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