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Review GSM phone Sony Ericsson Z520

Sony Ericsson Z520. Live pictures

Women are a target group for the Z250 and SE stresses it specially. The phone was announced with the Sony Ericsson S600 and will be launched approximately simultaneously. However the model is not exclusively woman's, the designers achieved this with only colour combination and interchangeable panels, but not the general design of the device. For instance, the Sony Ericsson Z200 was also made for women, however, the model attracted youngsters as well, and that was the secondary focus. The Z250 shows an attempt of applying the knowledge gained in the Z200's time and certain realization of Siemens CF62/CFX65's experience. And unlike the other phones with unclear positioning, here it is really obvious. For instance, the appearance points on a target group aged 20-35, office people as a rule (consistent design for work, and interchangeable "funny" panels at home or at a rest). The model is not mass in a full sense of this word; it is an assortment solution to widen the product line. Hit sales shouldn't be expected, however, it will be demanded among its audience.

It is produced in two basic colours - Chalky White and Sandy Grey, also Style Up panels are included into the kit. Panels of any colours can be bought separately with no troubles. The phone changes in no time. By the way, the panel catch has changed as compared with the previous models, and the construction is still firm and reliable.

The phone's dimensions form 83.2x45.7x24 mm (and if taking the antenna into account, then the height is 93.5 mm), it can't be called a small one, the size obviously exceeds some standard for women phones, and brings near to traditional candybars. The Samsung A800 that became a mass phone for women in very short terms (we are not trying to compare functionality, only the form-factor and size comfort) may be used as a standard. The phone weight is on the contrary only 96 grams that suits average value for such devices.

In women's opinion, the phone is easy to use, it lies well in a hand, but wearing it on the neck is comfortable not for everybody, since its increased size tells upon. Those who carry their phone in a bag won't have any troubles caused by this shortcoming.

To correspond with modern tendencies the external screen is colour. That is a 4096 STN screen with the resolution of 101x80 pixels. The display fades in the sun and working with it gets impossible, the picture is seen indoors, though differs greatly from the internal screen quality. The advantage is a photo is shown full size at an incoming call. A general tendency is quite clear, however leaves much to desire.

A VGA-camera objective is under the screen. The company thinks it's an enough and necessary minimum in this class for today, many office people don't need a better camera, especially passing to the Z520 from the phones having no cameras at all.

Loop-antennas become a company's tradition for the middle-class. An important thing to remember is not to use straps with metallic rings in order not to worsen the phone's reception.

A coupled volume button is placed on the left-side surface, and a special camera button is also here (the picture may be shown on the external screen in a closed mode). A Fast Port interface connector that is similar to the S600 and K750 are placed on the bottom end. The slot is closed with a plastic shutter that is set into the grooves. It's unlikely to pull off, however, taking it off and then putting on every time you recharge the device is uncomfortable, and you'd better remove it from the very beginning.

One of the main peculiarities of the device and its unique feature is a lighting edging of the phone parts seen in a closed mode. This edging starts shining and shimmering. The total number of shining schemes is 8 and each of them can be set for a name in the phone book. Now we have a direct association with Siemens CF62 having a shining edging also, but Siemens realized this possibility much better and more interesting. The list primordially contained more effects and you could select the, for various events and not only calls. Also the phone had a special application responsible for LED control, you could create and save own schemes and then use them for any event. As for me, the shining edging of the Z250 is not very interesting, this function is youth and belittles the device making it less fashion.

On opening the phone (which is possible with one hand) you'll see an internal screen. The first impression is the screen is bright and saturated. It seems to differ from the elder models. However that is wrong, the screen has the resolution of 128x160 pixels, at the same time the elder models are 176x220 pixels. The resolution difference is especially seen in the interface, the icons look worse drawn, and some coarseness of the sketch stays. The second point is system fonts that are too large and sometimes don't fit the screen, so you need to scroll the line (scrolling is automatic). A general impression is incompleteness that is seen only when comparing the Z250 with other company products. Studying this model separately you won't notice any serious faults in design.

The internal screen is TFT, it fades in the sun, and the picture is seen badly. The picture looses to many products of the same class in the picture quality in the sun.

The number keypad has a blue backlighting seen well in various conditions. The buttons are large and join close to each other. That makes no problems. The keypad is pleasant to work with. The 4D navi pad is comfortable and has an Ok one centered in.

A battery is hidden behind the back panel having no backlash. Here we see completely the same one as in the latest company products such as the K750, S600, and K600. That is 900 mAh Li-Pol (BST-37). According to the manufacturer the battery provides up to 200 hours of standby time and up to 6 hours of talks. In Moscow the phone averagely worked for 4 days in case of 45 minutes of talks and up to 45 minutes of other functions a day. Working less with the phone allows about 5 working days. Full recharging takes about 2 hours.

As you could have understood the Z520's hardware bases on the same platform as the Sony Ericsson K750, inside the models are also much similar, however the Z520 is a younger model.


The model takes the menu organization from the elder models such as the Sony Ericsson K750i, S600i. The changed resolution left its mark, the icons look differently, they are worse drawn though are pleasant. The main menu is a 3x4 matrix that you move along by navi pad deviations as well as number sequences. And traditionally personal tags to any functions are assigned to the navi button deviations. The menu is though over, and the ergonomics is high.

The phone has 16 MB of memory dynamically shared between all the applications. This space is enough to keep own call melodies even mp3s (also AAC is supported). What is important, the phone has functions identical to elder models, which makes the device more attractive.

Phonebook. Several phone numbers, e-mail address and other contact information (up to 500 names) may be kept for a name in the internal memory. In settings you can choose the required fields, as well as sorting by various fields including name, surname, but the input field remains single. Such sorting is important only while transferring data from PC, for phone's entries it's actually useless. For separate names you can setup custom ring tones and own picture, while the incoming call you will hear the custom ring tone, as well as chosen image.

While information input you are free to serf between bookmarks, on the first one phone number entering and their sorting according to types. Actually this organization reminds Outlook for some reason, it is convenient. Ability to add voice dialing to separate numbers stored under one name was introduced as well, there can be up to 40 of them in total.

While viewing the phone book you can scroll the numbers by the horizontal joystick's keypress, as well as watching other information. Of course the default number will be bind by you.

Traditionally the company believes that SIM-card and its memory will be used only in emergency situations, and not for storing information continuously. Viewing the entries on the SIM-card is possible from the separate menu item; they are not displayed in the common entry list.

Messages. All functions are basic for messages; templates and ability to create your own ones are present. For messages storing phone's memory as well as SIM-card's is used. Chat function is supported, on the whole I can say that the features are pretty common for any other phone.

MMS realization deserves to be mentioned as well, you can actually create clips, there are a lot of settings and it is not hard to use them, a truly unique quality that other phones lack.

E-Mail client supports sending and receiving messages, all possible encodings are supported.

In this menu Instant Messaging is present as well, sort of ICQ analogue.

Call lists. In common list you will see up to 30 entries with date and time assigned to each. Near each of them an icon will explain to what type of call it refers (missed, received, and dialed). Besides this in common list additional icons are present, they show if the phone number is present in the phone's memory, or SIM-card's. The list of missed calls can be viewed separately; it can store up to 10 entries. In the same menu item information about cost and length of last, all calls can be viewed. Moving through the separate lists can be made with the help of bookmarks; this actually saves your time greatly.

Entertainment. This menu item contains access to picture album, list of music files. Function MuiscDJ is interesting, although it is rather niche and will not be in demand around most of users. In this editor you can create your own ring tones and edit up to 4 tracks.

VideoDJ is an advances version of a MusicDJ function. It allows editing not just music, but adding pictures, notes and the result is a 3GP file possible to send via MMS or E-mail or just sent to another phone.

A graphical editor for drawing simple pictures is for creative people. Sometimes it helps to while away the time, though mainly the function is unnecessary.

Organizer. In organizer menu a lot of functions are stored at once, first of all - let's review the calendar. There are three types of event view, monthly, weekly and daily. In last case you see the list of all things to do and reminders, in two other modes you will notice the highlighted time with events or the day. Fast transfer to the required year, day and month is present. Everything is pretty simple and traditional, as well as schedule entry. Basically you get the chance to choose one of the 6 icons assigned to the action type, specify the place where it will occur, length and setup reminder (beforehand or in the entered time). From the editing menu for separate events you can choose another time and date, and that's it. Reminders work even if the phone is turned off, in case you turn on this function in the settings menu.

To do list of rather ascetic, only two modes of events, call or reminder. On the other hand this is pretty enough, simplicity has its own advantages as well.

The phone has fully-functional search, which is organized for calendar, you just enter the words (or part of it) and after few seconds see all events which suit for the searched words. The function works very fast even if there are more than 100 entries, fast pass to the event is supported as well.

The phone has normal support of sending schedules to different devices (like always - IrDA, Bluetooth). You just choose the required interval (day, week, or month) and send all entries.

Notes. The phone supports recording short text notes; in common list first word from each is displayed. This is not always convenient since you have to enter every note with "marker word", in order to remember what it is all about.

Alarm clocks. The phone has a single as well as a reoccurring alarm clock, which can be setup by the defined days of week. The alarm clocks will work even if the phone is turned off.

Countdown timer. Everything is pretty simple here, although same thing can be said about the stop-watch, it supports intervals. The phone has code storage, which was loved by many, working with calculator is usual.

Connectivity. From here you can setup all communication settings of the phone starting with WAP, GPRS, Bluetooth and ending with synchronization. The standard usage will not be mentioned, it is pretty obvious, everything works. I'd like to stress that no problems were encountered while synchronizing; synchronization with devices runs smoothly, all profiles are supported.

The same menu provides local and remote localization settings, everything is also standard. The device supports the HID profile that allows using it as a remote controller for a computer or other device.

The following Bluetooth profiles are supported:

  • Dial-up networking profile
  • Generic Access profile
  • Generic Object Exchange Profile
  • Object Push Profile
  • Serial Port Profile
  • Handsfree Profile
  • Headset Profile
  • Synchronization Profile
  • Basic Imaging Profile
  • File Transfer Profile
  • HID Profile
  • SyncML OBEX binding
  • JSR-82 Java API

WAP. The browser was given a separate menu item, its version is 2.0 and it supports secured transfers, which is important for electronic transactions. With the help of browser you can download new wallpapers, themes, ring tones, everything is available on the original web-site.

Settings. Basically all settings related to the work with the phone are stored here, partly with the appearance of screens. I will not describe this menu item, since everything is too common.

Player. The phone has built-in mp3/AAC file player, as well as 3GP. The player is actually a nice tool for listening to mp3 files. The device may be used for transporting one or two compositions with good quality. That is the way the phone is taken appropriately, since it can't replace an mp3 player wholly.

Equalizer setup is present among the other settings (Bass, Voice, Tremble etc), as well as the ability of creating your own settings. Depending on these settings the sound will actually change, this is noticeable.

Camera. The model fully copies the K700's camera module. Thus it has a VGA-camera on board, it has 4x digital zoom function. The presence of bookmarks can be considered an advantage. They allow quickly moving from one shooting mode to another, as well as video capture. The phone can record video clips in 3GP format, sound will be recorded as well. The clips look nicely on the screen, however obviously loose to megapixel cameras.

Video 1 (3GP, 48Kb)
Video 2 (3GP, 112Kb)
Video 3 (3GP, 112Kb)
Video 4 (3GP, 80Kb)
Video 5 (3GP, 64Kb)
Video 6 (3GP, 168Kb)

Flashlight which is presented in this model is interesting when taking pictures on the distance of about 30 centimeters. In other conditions this feature is useless, although it can be used as lamp.

The phone supports three picture resolutions, the highest of them is VGA, there are also few quality modes, picture compression (standard JPEG files). The phone has various effects and the ability to use night mode. From various effects such unique feature as panoramic shooting should be mentioned. In this mode you are doing first shot and you will see its image displayed on the screen, meanwhile part of the screen is white, it shows part of the taken picture. You are combining white part of the slide with the thing you see in the viewfinder and take the shot again, and again. As a result you get complex image, panorama. You can see a sample of such pictures here, its resolution is 1648x438 pixels. You don't have to put any special effort in order to get this landscape picture, for example, the sample was made during several seconds. And here is what can turn out in case you do not follow the rules of overlay one image over another. The picture turns into phantasmagoria. From artistic point of view such pictures contain certain sense; I am sure that this process will be popular among a lot of young Z520 users.

Taken pictures can be used as wallpapers, it can be easily sent to any device with the help of IrDA or Bluetooth. They can be sent via MMS as well, either with the help of built-in e-mail client.

Picture viewing process can be made from Album, they are displayed as thumbnails, everything is pretty common.

Picture example, another one, as well as this one, and the last one.


The model rouses no cavils as for the quality of connection and provides reliable work in various conditions. The volume of its 40-tones polyphonic call signal is high, even higher than in the Sony Ericsson K700. You'll hear it in various conditions, even in a noisy street. Preset files are of the maximum volume. The power of the vibra is average and won't be felt in a bag.

Fully-functional IrDA and Bluetooth, enough memory for storing call melodies and a good design are the advantages. The absence of the radio is dictated by the S600 that is to differ greatly from the described phone in functionality. The solutions tested in the K750 are also an advantage, and thus they are mainly well-realized. A rich set of games for a target group is also a pleasant trifle.

Now the market lacks similar in functionality phones. For instance, the Siemens CFX65 looses in functionality, the absence of Bluetooth, though acts in the same segment. The Z520 is good for its audience, though won't become a bestseller, since that is an assortment offer. The shipments will start in the end of the summer, the beginning of the autumn. The first price will form 240-250 USD, and then it'll fall lower than 200 USD quickly. The highest demand for the Z520 will fall on the New Year Eve, when the price will be minimal and the price/quality ratio will be the maximum.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maria Mitina (maria.mitina@mobile-review.com)
Published — 08 July 2005

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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