The Sony Ericsson Z1010 is one of the most highly-anticipated handsets from the company in many years. This is mainly due to the fact that the Z1010 is the first 3G-capable handset from the merged company; it’s their first high-speed, high quality multimedia driven handset.
The Z1010 is a dual-mode GSM an UMTS handset, so it’s compatible with almost every network on Earth. The high-speed data capabilities and dual-cameras, with a clam-shell design top off the whole handset. With connectivity and expandability options in every kind, the Z1010 feature list doesn’t leave anything untouched.
3 Hutchison, the only 3G service currently available in Australia have kindly given iMobile.com.au the Z1010 for review. There were many myths associated with this handset before it had even been released, so I hope this review helps erase any doubts you may have! :)
The Sony Ericsson Z1010 is an outstanding phone from the company in everyway, being their first 3G compatible handset. The handset has twin digital cameras, UMTS (3G Network) and GSM compatibility, Memory Stick Duo support, streaming media viewing in the MPEG4/MP3 player, MP3 and polyphonic ring tones, and Bluetooth, USB data-cable, and Infrared connectivity. There is also the somewhat new user interface which is in other new Sony Ericsson models, like the K700i.
The twin digital cameras on the Z1010 both have very different functions. The one inside the phone, below the display is used only for video calls. The external camera is capable of video and still capture, and has a night-mode function, photographic effects and can capture images up to 480 x 640 pixels in size. The internal camera can’t be used for video capture, and will stay dormant until you initiate a video call – but it does have the night-mode function too.
The phone is a dual-mode device, and works on the GSM 900/1800MHz frequencies and also the UMTS service. The UMTS service allows high-speed (384kbp/s) data downloads enabling 3G functions like video talk and direct streaming media. GPRS Class 10 can be used when a UMTS connection isn’t available if you are out of the 3G service area, which is expanding very quickly all around Australia.
A 32mB internal memory on the Z1010 can be used to store everything from pictures and videos to audio clips and animations. This memory can be expanded, using the 32mB external Memory Stick Duo card, which is included in the sales package. Other Memory Stick Duo cards can be bought to further boost the memory. The external memory cards can hold everything and anything.
The Media Player on the Z1010 can play video and audio files, from MPEG4 video to MP3’s and 74-chord polyphonic ring tones. The Z1010 supports MP3 ring tones and the 74-chord polyphonic ring tones too – which sound great! The internal and external memory can accommodate all your music and video files, and the UMTS support will enable great quality streaming media in the Media Player.
For connectivity to other devices, there are several different options. You can use the wireless technology, also known as Bluetooth for connections to headsets, PC/laptop’s and other supported devices, or Infrared for connections to other devices including PC’s and other mobile devices. There is also a USB data-cable in the sales package for you to connect to a PC/laptop and transfer files or synchronize with.
Sony Ericsson only very rarely releases clam-shell based phones. There have been a few in the past, but they were more entry-level handsets. The Z1010 is much more than an entry level handset, and is still a clam-shell phone. The handset comes in two different colour combinations, and doesn’t have removable face plates. You will either receive the grey and silver Z1010, or the red and silver Z1010. The first mentioned colours cover the front and back sections of the phone, the rest is all silver.
The less curved lines of the Z1010 make it look quite large when compared to the NEC e616V, when in fact they are very similar in size, the Z1010 just a touch larger in some aspects. For comparison, the Z1010 is 99mm x 54.5mm x 29mm and the e616V is 103mm x 53mm x 26mm. The Z1010 weighs 144 grams, and the NEC e616 131 grams.
From the outside of the phone, there are several input ports, buttons, and distinguishing features. On the left side of the handset you will find the Memory Stick Duo input slot, and above that two volume buttons (up and down). The right side of the handset has the dedicated camera button and headset port, behind a small plastic protector. Both the Memory Stick Duo and Headset port protectors are attached to the phone and won’t come loose during everyday use.
The back of the Z1010 houses the first of the two digital cameras. It is positioned just near the hinge of the phone and has a chrome plate next to it, to give an estimation for self-portraits. This is an unusual spot for a camera, and is a little less functional than if it was on the front lip, but works the same never the less. There are some rubber stoppers on the back so the phone doesn’t slide around too.
On the front of the handset is the small 4-level grey scale display, displaying the phone’s vital status. Below this is the “Three” logo, like you would find on any other “Three” phone. Above this is the familiar Sony Ericsson logo, on top of a silver backing. The main display, when you open the phone, is a 65,536 colour TFT LCD.
The middle of the phone, viewable when it’s open, is the same colour as the sides of the phone (the bit where the colour you have received stops). All the buttons inside the handset are very large, and separated from each other. From large to small fingers the buttons are in reach! Everything is evenly spaced, and the small video talk camera is located below the display.
The selection buttons in the top section of the phone are chrome, the rest are a lighter silver; all the buttons have a white backlight.
User Interface & display
The Z1010 uses the same type of interface like other new handsets from Sony Ericsson, with the familiar 12-icon menu. Some of the older handsets had 9-icon menus, but the format is still the same. The tabbed interface with spot-light effect is also back on the Z1010. A full colour (65,536 colours to be precise) 176 x 220 pixel display is the viewfinder for the camera as well. Theme support on the handset brightens up the Z1010 to your tastes and desires.
First up when you open the handset the ‘idle’ screen is displayed. This shows the time, date, battery life, reception, and any other icons at the top of screen. Most of the display will have your defined background or the theme’s background, depending on what you have selected. Small sections of the top and bottom of this idle screen contain parts of the theme, like the bottom with the labels for the soft keys.
The middle button the directional keypad is used to open the main menu and make selections – it’s like a “yes”, or “accept” key. When opened the Messaging icon is selected, just like most other phones do. Around the Messaging icon you will see many different icons, all of which are self-explanatory. The text-label for each icon is situated at the top of screen when the icon is selected. The most used icons are closest to the messaging icon for convenience, like the camera, Media Player, File Manager and Internet Browser. When using the menu I had K700i flashbacks, as the same spotlight effect is used on selected icons, and the enlargement effect too.
The top left-hand corner of the main menu has the special “3 Services” menu, which when opened will connect to “Three”’s main page where you can download multi-media in every shape, size, and type!
The directional key has four small dots around it, and the middle dot which I have already explained. The four small dots are the direction keys, which will move the selection on the phone to the left, right, top, or bottom. There are two soft keys on the Z1010, and the back key is below the left one. Other buttons on the keypad that perform special functions is the key on the left hand side of the keypad, with the handset icon and video clip. This is the video call icon. On the other side of the handset in the same position is the web browser button which will instantly open the browser.
Some sections of the user interface are tabbed, like many Symbian interfaces. This allows quick movement between lots of options, like in the settings menu and camera application, where you can change from images to video in a single button press. The UI of the Sony Ericsson Z1010 is very fast and responsive. With the size of buttons being perfect for any sized fingers working with the handset is a pleasure. Text input it also very fast!
This internal display is bright and very clear, and there are many settings in the display section of the settings menu to get it working just the way you want it. Video, images, and just the general user interface of the Z1010 are a treat to look at on this display. There is an external display as well, a 4-level grayscale 101 x 80 pixel one which will display simple things, like the time and date, and reception/battery levels. The smaller display has a bright blue backlight, and can be activated by pressing the volume up/down keys.
Making and receiving calls
The Z1010 supports two types of calling, video talk and the normal audio talk. The video talk feature is a 3G only function, supported on the only 3G network in Australia at the moment, “Three”. The second video camera in the Z1010, below the display, is used only for video-calls. It is perfectly aimed at your face so your call recipient will get the best view of you all the time! There is a stereo headset port on the Z1010’s right side, which is ideal for video-talk calls when you can’t hold the phone to your ear.
The Z1010 is a dual-mode device, and works on the GSM 900/1800MHz frequencies, and the UMTS network. The UMTS network allows high-speed data transfers, therefore allowing a video and audio stream to be sent and received on your handset in real time.
The Z1010 has a video talk button, so there is very little fiddling around when you are trying to make a video call or normal audio calls. The video call button, when pressed, opens up the video talk application. A small square at the bottom of the display will show the video that is being sent out when the call is in progress. The large black section around it is where the other party’s video will be shown. You can switch this to the other way round by accessing the menu with the button in the middle of the navigational key. Other options you get are to hide your small picture all together, mirror your image, or activate night mode on the camera. When in-call more functions are available.
Video talk is only available in “Three”’s coverage area; maps are available here
http://www.three.com.au/coverage. When you have opened the video talk application you can either enter a phone number directly with the numerical buttons, or press the right soft-key, which is
labelled “Look Up”. This will give you access to your phone book where you can browse for a name/number to video call. Once the video call is initiated, the phone will be put on the speakerphone function. This may result in bad audio, so the headset that is included in the sales package or a Bluetooth headset is probably the best idea for video calls. Audio can be muted in a call too, and video can be paused.
The video quality on the Z1010 3G handset was better than I expected. There are no quality functions for the video being streamed however, but the default manufacturer settings seemed fine with me. There is an added bonus of the night-mode function as well, something which is very useful in low-light situations.
When you input a number in the Z1010’s idle screen the left soft key is labelled “Call”, and when pressed will start a normal audio call. To start a video call to the inputted phone number press the dedicated video talk button or go to the options menu and select video call. The audio quality on the handset speakerphone and earpiece was perfect, and audio can be adjusted by pressing the volume up/down buttons on the side of the handset.
Messaging on Sony Ericsson phones is always fun in my opinion. The messaging window is friendly and easy to use, and shows up everything clearly and simply. T9 predictive text is supported on the handset, and SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail protocols. The VGA camera in the Z1010 increases your fun with image and video MMS messages. Extra-long SMS messages are supported too.
When you take a photo on the Z1010 using the inbuilt camera, you can send the photo straight away by selecting the appropriate option. This is also the case with videos, which can also be sent via MMS to a phone number or e-mail address. Once you have pressed send by MMS on the image/video option, your video/image will be added to the message. You can add more aspects of the message here by selecting “More” and then “Add”. Text, images, videos, sounds, and animations are the supported features of MMS – everything!
SMS and EMS messages can be longer than 160 characters, and can be spread out over several single messages which are combined again on the receiver’s phone. The Z1010 will tell you when you are running low on characters in a single message, and a small box will pop up saying “SMS 2” if you move onto the 2nd text message. This will also happen if you move onto the 3rd message, except the two is changed to a “Three”! :) EMS messages can contain small images and sound clips as well as the normal text.
E-mail messages can be downloaded and sent on the Z1010, when you have set up your mailboxes. “Three” offers an e-mail service which needs to be set up with them before it can be used. Your home or work e-mail service can also be added to the phone for downloading and sending of messages, just as if you were at work/home!
The Sony Ericsson Z1010 supports UMTS, for high-speed data transfers enabling rich multimedia to be delivered instantly to your handset. GPRS Class 10 is also supported, but UMTS wins hands down speed wise. Other than over-the-air connections, the Z1010 has Bluetooth, Infrared, and USB data-cable support. A USB data-cable is even included in the sales package!
UMTS can reach speeds of up to 384kbp/s in 3G areas, enabling the video talk and streaming video/audio functions of the Z1010 to be clear and smooth, not jumpy. These data speed capabilities are the basis of 3G networks which need to have large amounts of bandwidth to live up to the expectation of a luscious array of multimedia content for the consumer to download. The 3 services menu on the main menu of the handset has everything you could possibly want, from ring tones to pictures, videos, horoscopes, move times, and much more.
GPRS Class 10 can be used when a UMTS connection is not available, enabling data to still be transferred for things like e-mail downloading or sending/receiving MMS messages. The Z1010 also has an inbuilt WAP 2.0 browser which will make use of either the UMTS or GPRS connection, depending which is available. The coverage maps of “Three”’s services will indicate where GPRS is supported and where it isn’t.
The Connectivity menu on the Z1010 has everything the handset can use to connect to other devices. It also has settings for Java applications and streaming video, synchronization, and network settings. The infrared panel on the Z1010 is located above the charging/connection ports, next to the small white circle. It can be turned on, on for 10 minutes, or off. Data can be received using the port once it is turned on and sent straight from the options menu of the file.
Bluetooth protocols supported on the Z1010 are: dial-up, file transfer, Handsfree, headset, imaging, object push, serial port, and synchronization. Headsets can be used for wireless audio conversations and files can be transferred to and from the handset from a compatible PC/laptop or device.
Although a clam-shell form factor phone, the Z1010 performed fine in this area. The hinge of the handset clicks in and out when the phone is open and closed, and doesn’t move about.
All of the plastic port covers are attached to the phone as previously mentioned, and the Memory Stick Duo slides into place without much hassle. To remove it just push it in and then pull out! The battery and USIM are simple to get in and out, and the back cover simply needs to be pushed in then slid downwards.
I wasn’t very impressed with the battery life of the Z1010, which would need a good charge every night to keep it on top of things. This low-battery life factor is very common in most 3G enabled phones, and the
1000mAh battery maybe isn’t enough to handle the demands of the Z1010 at all times.
The included 1000mAh battery in Sony Ericsson’s opinion will last the phone for 11 hours of talk time, and 295 hours of standby time.