One of Sony Ericsson’s few clam-shell phones, the Z200 is a handset aimed, but not limited to, the entry-level user. This said though, it does lack in some of the features that most phones have these days - most disappointing for me is the lack of MMS and a camera.
The Z200 goes all out on a design front, bright colours and rounded corners. To keep the handset personal and as unique as you, you can use Style-up™ covers to change the look of the front of the phone. These covers were first introduced for clam shells in Sony Ericsson’s Z600 model. Themes, wallpapers, and ring tones are also customizable.
Without the new design and external features, does the Z200 place any new cards on the table?
The Z200 has been given a total style overhaul from previous models, and is something Sony Ericsson feels very proud with as one would gather from having a look at the Z200 product page on their website. The Z200 can be customised further and look even more stylish by the use of Style-Up™ covers which change the look of the front of the phone only. The Z200 does come in two colour themes in the sales package though - Velvet Blue and Cosmo Silver or Frosty White and Pulse Red.
Moving on from the design of the Z200, it also has a rich colour display, and an external monochrome display. The main (internal) display is 4,096 colours and @ 128 x 128 pixels, just like the Nokia 6610, or 7250i. The external display is only small @ 64 x 64 pixels and is monochrome, so it displays black/white only.
The internal memory on the Z200 is around 1mB, a small amount by most standards but the handset doesn’t include a camera which is usually a large memory hog. You can fill up the memory by means of transferring data via the infrared port on the left side of the handset, something that I am very happy to see in a low priced handset.
Several games are bundled in the Z200 for you to play, and more can be downloaded from WAP sites or via infrared. They are full sound and graphic games that are great fun to play. Ring tones on the Z200 can be created using a composer application, or you can use some of the pre-installed 40-chord tones.
One other thing, the snapping noise that made me feel like the Z600 was going to snap in half isn’t apparent in the Z200.
Aside from these few things, the Z200 doesn’t bring anything new to the mobile world; its old features in a new shell - which is fine for an entry-level handset.
The Z200 does excel in this part of my review, as it is a nice looking phone, and it can be transformed with the help of covers too. It has a unique design that will attract many teenagers and style-conscious older people too. Sony Ericsson are aiming their handsets at the youth of the world, as they’re the ones growing up with this technology and soon will be the ones with the money to spend.
The review unit I received was the Cosmo Silver one, with the silver Style-up™ front cover and orange monochrome display visor. Whichever colour style you get, you will be impressed. For the purpose of this review I’ll explain the stylish of the handset I received, but check out photos of the other types and see which one you like the best.
The Z200, alike its brother the Z600, doesn’t have an external antenna, but most have seen enough of these types of handsets for it not to look weird anymore. This handset does have a handy strap holder at the very top, but it is very large - I thought it held the top part of the flip when it is open, but it doesn’t reach that far. The off-centre monochrome display is located about half way down on the top flip, and is lit by pressing the volume +/- buttons on the side of the handset. Underneath the monochrome display is the ever-so-familiar Sony Ericsson text and logo.
Turn the handset over and the bottom is covered in a navy blue colour that extends around the sides of the top flip, but it is quite thin. The back of the Z200 is quite flat so it will sit on a flat surface nicely, but it curves around at the front and sides where the back cover finishes giving it a fine overall look. The only other colour on the bottom of the Z200 is the grey back cover catch. Indented into the back of the cover are the words, once again, Sony Ericsson - and the power/headset indicators on the actual handset below that. If you remember the Z600’s data ports and how they were indented slightly, the Z200 follows suit.
Open the Z200 and it’s all the same in all sales package styles, orange and silver with some chrome thrown in. The whole inside is silver, with the main display being framed by a bright orange square and Sony Ericsson text again. The hinge is the navy blue that covers the back of the phone, and the buttons are all silver with yellow screens for the backlight to shine through. The navigational key is a reflective orange in between the two yes/no buttons, and is surrounded by a chrome square that indicates which direction does what. Two rubber stoppers are located underneath the tiny slit that is the microphone to protect the top flip.
On the left side of the handset you’ll find clear orange volume up/down buttons, and the infrared port.
User Interface & display
The internal display on the Z200 is standard size and type; 128 x 128 pixels and 4,096 colours. The external display is 96 x 96 pixels and monochrome, so it displays black and white - but it is orange due to the screen from the Style-Up™ cover. Even for a basic phone a 65,536 colour display would have looked great even at a small resolution.
Unlike the T630 model’s main menu, the Z200 has a 9 icon main menu, but the icons are the same. The 9 main menu options are Calls, WAP Services, My Shortcuts, Fun & Games, Messages, Organiser, Connectivity, Phonebook, and Settings. These are familiar for most Sony Ericsson users and cover the main aspects of the phone without much confusion. Once a main menu is open the sub-menus are in a text list - the selection is moved around using the 5-way directional key. You can select an option by pressing yes or pushing in the middle of the directional key. The Z200 doesn’t have text boxes at the bottom of the screen that tell you what to press to perform a function, like the T230.
The UI of the Z200 is quite slow compared to some other phones, but nevertheless works well. Everything is organised and in groups for easy access and everything is easy to find. The display helps in navigation and control of the phone as it is bright and colourful and easy on the eyes.
The external monochrome display can either show the analogue clock, or the GSM/GPRS reception and battery level as well as the time (digital). You can change between the two and light up the display by using the volume up/down keys on the side of the handset. The monochrome display will also display who is calling, missed calls, new messages, and other important details.
Themes can be applied to the user interface on the Z200, and they are pre-installed on the phone and downloadable from WAP pages or transferred to the handset using infrared. They change the wallpaper of the Z200, and the look of the menus.
Making and receiving calls
The Z200 can make calls directly through the earpiece only, there is no support for a speakerphone function, but you can plug in a wired headset for hands free communication. The volume could have been slightly louder, but aside from that the location of the microphone is great, little background noise came through.
When the Z200 is closed, opening it up will answer the call - this can be changed through the settings menu though. Pressing the volume key on the side of the phone twice will reject the call. When open, the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ keys are used to accept/reject the call when the “Answer?” prompt appears.
During a call you can turn up/down the volume by using the two keys on the left hand side of the Z200. In-call options are accessible by pressing the options button while in a call.
Because clam-shells wrap around the users face for great audio quality on both ends, the Z200 did well expect for the audio volume.
The Messages menu is the first one that is selected when you open the menu by pressing the menu key, the orange circle in between the directional keys. Quickly press this twice and you’ll open up the messages menu, or press it three times and start a new message. A new message can also be started by pressing the left directional key when the phone is idle.
I really didn’t like messaging on the Z200, the only reason being that I couldn’t type a message properly because of the slow response to key presses. Almost every word I had to go back and add letters which the phone had conveniently forgotten to respond to. However, if this problem was not evident I’m sure it would have been a good experience.
The messaging screen is the same as previous models like the T630/Z600, with the input box and little icon at the top left, and the input type on the right (i.e. T9 Aa is T9 predictive text with sentence case). You can start entering text as soon as the phone starts to respond, and the space key is default for Sony Ericsson being the ‘#’ key. The ‘0’ key will change the selected word to the possible other combinations, and the ‘*’ key will change the text case, and if you hold it down the input method - T9 or multitap. The ‘1’ key is the symbols key like most phones. One thing about the symbols key that I noticed is that when you enter words such as ‘don’t’, most phones will change the full stop to a apostrophe to make the word complete, but the Z200 doesn’t, it leaves it as a full stop.
Pressing the navigation key in or pressing yes will move to the number screen where you can input a phone number or press the left directional button to go to the phonebook and make your selection. To open the menu in the messages function, press the options key; it’s the one underneath the ‘yes’ key.
Incomplete messages that are exited are saved in the ‘Unsent’ folder for you to complete later. Several templates can be used to start off your messages; they are in their own folder in the main messages menu. You can call your set voicemail number from this main menu too.
The main connection option on the Z200 is in the infrared port on the left hand side of the handset. You can send and receive all kinds of data through it, and most phones do have an Infrared port so you can transfer things to all your friends and family. The Z200 does however support GPRS and has a WAP browser for you to use.
From the options menu of a ring tone, melody, picture or business card you can select “Send” and then either “by text message” or “Infrared”. It is always great to see this in a handset with an Infrared port, for example the Nokia 7250i doesn’t have the ability to send images and ring tones from the gallery via infrared. As soon as you select via infrared the port will be activated and you will need to put it in view of the receiving device, which can be anything from a PDA to a computer adapter.
The class of a GPRS connection is what determines the speed of transfers. The Z200 is GPRS Class 8 (4+1), enabling 8-12kbp/s sending, and 32-40kbp/s receiving. The GPRS connection on the Z200 enables it to connect to WAP pages using the inbuilt browser accessible via the main menu.
A data-cable can also be used for Z200 to PC connections, like the Desktop Stand CDS-11.
The only two problems I had with this was the way in which the back and front covers came off - that’s if you could figure out how to get them off, and the battery removal.
It’s not stated in the manual how to remove the front/back covers. The front cover needs to be lifted from the top and then slid down, and then placed back on top of the handset and slid up to get back on - but it has to be perfect or it won’t go. The back cover has a catch that you need to push up, but there is no where to put your finger nails to get the cover off! Giving it a tap or three should loosen it and then it will just pull off. The battery has some sections next to it where you can insert your fingers (if they’re tiny) and lever the battery out, but if you have big fingers you’ll need to tap it out too.
The SIM card fits in fine, but I use the bottom of the back cover to get it out - it’s one of those slide-in holders.
The rest of the Z200 is fine, quite strong and sturdy.
Battery life on the Z200 was acceptable, but better management would have received a better mark from me. Sony Ericsson state that the battery will run the phone on standby for around 200 hours, and talk time is about 4 hours.
This handset doesn’t have very many battery chewing features like a camera or radio, so battery doesn’t decrease incredibly quickly. The Z200 uses a standard 650mAh battery.