Introducing the Z600; Sony Ericsson’s first clam-shell design GSM handset with an internal camera.
Only recently released, the Z600 has a large 65,536 colour LCD display, external monochrome display, integrated CIF camera, Bluetooth and Infrared connection options, and more.
No need to attach anything to your phone to capture pictures, flip it open and press the dedicated camera button once to open the viewfinder, and again to capture. Quickly take a photo at day or night and send it via MMS, or E-mail in an instant.
Stylish new Style-Up™ back and front covers match your mood and who you are, along with pre-installed and downloadable themes to change colour scheme and backgrounds on the Z600.
Not forgetting all the features which have become a standard in phones today, the Z600 includes the things we only see in some selected handsets in a nice neat package.
A great thing included in the Z600 is the integrated CIF camera. It is able to capture photos in all different settings, like night-mode, sepia, negative, and more. You can also change the size of the photo to be taken to one of two. Read all about the camera and view images shot by it in the Camera Performance and Quality section.
One of the great things I have never seen in a clam-shell design phone like the Z600 is support for interchangeable covers. The back and front of the Z600 can be changed, and to set you off two of the Style-Up™ covers are included in the sales package. There is also a great range available from Sony Ericsson, so you can easily match your phone to your personality, and you!
A huge internal memory, 32 chord polyphonic ring tones, and support for Java™ and Mophun™ games & applications, the Z600 has everything covered. The internal memory is around 2mB, and is shared between many aspects of the phone. You can read about this in the Major Features section of this article.
The ‘desktop’ feel of Sony Ericsson phones is seen again in this model, however instead of the 9 icon desktop in models like the T230, the Z600 has a 12 icon desktop. This makes it much easier to take full advantage of the mobile, easily and quickly.
At first glance of the Z600, one may think that it is missing something. Well you’re right; it is missing something that most other clam-shell design phones have - an external antenna! The Z600’s antenna has been placed inside the handset, which is a great idea. No more thoughts haunting you about accidentally snapping it off in your pocket.
Even before you open up the Z600 you can check the status of your phone using the external monochrome 21 x 80 pixel display. By pressing the two chrome volume +/- buttons on the left side of the handset twice in a row will light up the display in a cool blue colour and show the time, and pressing it again will show the date, then the profile, and then model number. The GSM/GPRS reception indicators are also shown on the top part of the display, along with battery life and special indicators like Bluetooth, Infra-red, etc.
To compliment the Z600’s silver finish and sleek black panels with chrome buttons, you can change more of the external parts of the phone with Style-Up™ covers. All the colours under the moon and heaps of cool designs, the Z600 is a phone with fashion sense =). Included on the flip-open side of the Z600 at the bottom is a wrist/head-band insert, so you can wear your phone on your neck or wrist if you wish.
The bottom of the Z600 holds the accessory and charging ports. They are slightly indented into the bottom of the handset so that the outer silver casing of it doesn’t stop where the ports are. It looks great and is hidden away nicely.
Once open, the top part of the handset should click into place. It sounds a bit strange, but it’s just clicking in so it doesn’t flip all around the place. The display will activate, and switch to the main screen. The blue backlight around all 23 internal buttons will also be turned on, so you can see what you’re doing. The backlight on the keys looks really cool, and is quite bright as well. For easy navigation of the menus there is a 4 way navigational key with a button in the centre which is like a yes/confirm button. Because the Z600 is a clam-shell design phone there is no dedicated yes/no buttons for calls, but if the phone is open and a call comes through the two selection keys become the yes/no keys. Otherwise you just flip open your phone and talk away! More is explained about calls in the Making and Receiving calls section of this article.
The navigational key, two selection keys, return key and cancel button are the only chrome buttons on the inside, the others are soft plastic. All of the buttons are also indented slightly into the handset so they won’t touch the screen when closed. Another precaution so nothing will touch the screen is small plastic bumps at the bottom of the keypad which holds up the top flip part.
User Interface & display
The Z600’s user interface is much like that of the T610, and like the T610 the Z600 has a 65,536 colour LCD display with a 128 x 160 pixel resolution. The Z600’s type of display, TFD, is reasonably better than the T610’s one.
Once the phone is flipped open and display is activated, everything you need to control your phone is displayed. Without doing anything you can automatically see the GSM/GPRS reception, the line the phone is currently using, the battery life and other indicators like Bluetooth etc. The service providers name is displayed under that, and then below that is the time and date in your selected format. Everything you need to know is visible here.
Pressing the left selection key will open the ‘Calls’ list with outgoing, incoming, and missed calls list which are easily identified with coloured arrows. The key inside the navigational key will bring up the 12 icon menu with everything you need to personalize your phone. Pressing the right selection key will bring up the ‘More’ menu, where you can activate/turn off Bluetooth, Infrared, and the Silent Profile, post a note, or see the phones status. This menu is great if you need to quickly activate something without too much of a fuss. It’s a better way to navigate around menus with no need to scroll through endless selections.
The navigational key is more than just a way to speed around the menus; it is also shortcuts to many different things. By pressing the left navigational key when the phone is viewing the background, it will open a new message so you can quickly type and send one off. Pressing the up key will jump to internet services, and the right key will go to the menu. Pressing down will position the cursor at the first name in your phone book. Other keys have more than one use, like the 2-9 keys for speed dialling, and 1 of course is the speed key for voicemail. A new key on the Z600 is below all the numerical keys and will jump straight to your operator set homepage once WAP has been set up. This key is on the left side, and the on/off key is on the right side.
Themes make the Z600 much more personalized. Downloadable on your computer and from the Sony Ericsson WAP website direct from your mobile, themes change the way your phone looks and feels on the inside. Colour schemes are changed and backgrounds are set.
Once the phone has been idle for 20 seconds the set background will be displayed, and then 5 seconds after that the black and white clock will be shown. When you press a button the normal display will be shown. When the phone is closed, the monochrome display will show the normal vitals and time for around 10 seconds, and then switch to a large version of the time.
Using the phone in sunlight or even bright light was a bit of a problem for me, I had to put my hand over the top of the display to be able to see text and anything else for that matter properly. This is because of the TFD display on the Z600; a different style of display would fix this problem. Possibly something Sony Ericsson can think about fixing in their next handset. =)
Making and receiving calls
The Z600 was a delight to make and get calls with - I couldn’t wait until someone rang me! The sound is crystal clear and the person talking sounds like they are actually in your ear, instead of sounding like they’re talking and you’re getting the echo through the phone. Loudness wasn’t a problem on the Z600; I had it on ¾ of the full strength and could hear perfectly.
Once open and in a call, the phone comfortably ‘wraps’ around your face because of the hinge, an added advantage of having a clam-shell design phone. The earpiece is nicely positioned and microphone in the perfect spot for best audio quality. It is comfortable to hold in your hand with your fingers able to grasp it nicely, and holding it with your shoulder shouldn’t cause anyone a problem.
Making calls is simple, open the phone, enter the number, and press call! You can also call a phone number from your contacts by going into the phone book, selecting a name in the window that appears, then a number (many numbers can be stored, like Work, Mobile, and Home), and pressing call. You don’t have to scroll through all the names in your phonebook, just press the first letter of the name and the cursor will jump to that letter =) You can easily get into your phone book by pressing the down button, or going into the menu and selecting ‘Phone Book.’ It couldn’t get any simpler if it tried.
When your Z600 rings and the handset is closed, the number will be shown on the monochrome display or the name if it is in your phonebook. ‘Withheld’ will be shown if it is a private number or if the person has chosen not to show their number. Flip open the phone to accept the call and initiate connection, or press the volume up button twice to reject the call and it will be diverted to any active diverts you have, or just hung up on.
A great feature on the Z600 for the money minded is the Minute Minder, which will give you a beep every minute that passes and you are talking on the phone. This is a great feature for phones that have free time, where you may get the first 15 minutes of a call at a cheap rate.
The Z600 doesn’t have a speaker phone, but because of Bluetooth support you could easily get a headset and use that so you don’t have to hold you phone. A wired headset is also an option on the Z600.
Great ringing tones are on the Z600, with up to 32 simultaneous chords able to play at once. There are several polyphonic tones pre-installed on the phone, all removable. You can download more via Bluetooth, Infrared, MMS, WAP, or e-mail. The tones will sound clear with the speaker located at the back of the handset. All the latest songs and tunes are being converted to polyphonic tones; your Z600 will be a personal jukebox! =)
Support for the messaging features we love like MMS, SMS, Extra-long SMS, EMS, and SMS Chat will be found in the Z600.
Another great thing found in other Sony Ericsson handsets is the support for sending and receiving POP3 and IMPA4 e-mails. Most phones have support for E-mail via MMS, but the Z600 is different. Your e-mail account with your internet provider or your work that you use with Outlook Express or another e-mail client is now able to be brought along with you on your mobile phone. Once set up, you can send and receive e-mails while you’re out and about. If you don’t want to log onto your mail server all the time to send messages, and get charged heaps for GPRS costs, simply put all your outgoing mail into your outbox, and then when you’re ready connect and push all the mail out. You don’t have to send e-mails one at a time, do it in a big bunch.
Like other Sony Ericsson handsets you can also record sound on the Z600 - and then send it off in your MMS messages! Pictures and text can also be included, and that MMS doesn’t have to be sent to a phone number, why not send it to an E-mail address? The MMS editor on the Z600 is great, you can add parts and they will show up on screen like you were receiving that MMS. It’s a great way to do it instead of using icons like the Nokia phones.
EMS is also supported by the Z600, which means SMS messages can be enhanced, hence the name, Enhanced Messaging Service! You can add formatting tags like subject line, font size, and font style. You can add little melodies, animations, and little pictures. These are like a slightly less advanced version of MMS, because you can’t send colour images/animations or polyphonic ring tones, but you can make stylish messages!
For ease in writing those long SMS messages, T9 has been included in the Z600. T9 gives the user the ability to just press the numerical button representing the letter they want, instead of having to tap the button several times to get their letter. The handset will then make some words out of the appropriate letters, and most of the time will get the word you were after. The phone will have a selection of words for some entries, so choose the one you wish on the menu that appears or press down to find your word. If it doesn’t have any more combinations you can simply enter it into the phone’s memory and the phone will remember if for next time. Once you have entered the word into your message and got what you want, press the # button to accept the word and place a space.
The 2mB internal memory on the Z600 is shared between SMS messages, MMS messages (sent, unsent, received, templates) and other parts of the phone, which is a fair amount. On my trial I never managed to fill it up, and I receive a lot of messages a day.
Connecting your Z600 to a PC, Headset, or any other device should be no problem with the range of connection options on the Z600; Bluetooth, Infrared, and GPRS.
The newest and easiest way to connect the Z600 to any other device is with Bluetooth wireless technology. This means away with the wires that get knotted and confusing. By having a Bluetooth enabled PC (internal or from an adapter) you can let the Z600 discover your computer and make a connection with it using a 4 digit PIN. Both the computer and the phone will need to enter a PIN for each other. Once the connection has been established you can do things like file transfers, use the Z600 as an audio gateway or serial port, fax service, dial-up network, or simply synchronize your data between one another. Besides from a computer or laptop you can connect a Bluetooth headset that clips on your ear with no wires, or even another phone for file transfers. Connecting two Sony Ericsson phones will give you the ability to use “QuickShare,” Sony Ericsson’s easy way to transfer files. Some Bluetooth devices have a range of up to 100m, so you don’t have to have your phone in front of you to use it. You can also play some games using Bluetooth on the Z600.
Infrared, once only found in high-end phones has been compiled in the Z600. You can connect your PC or Laptop with Infrared for file transfers, wireless modem and synchronization or another Infrared enabled handset for file transfers, business card exchanges and more.
If you can’t afford wireless adapters for your PC or Laptop, cheap data-cables are also available which can do all the things that Bluetooth and Infrared can do with a computer. Data-cables connect to your computers serial or USB port. You can purchase these from Sony Ericsson resellers.
The build quality and way that the Style-up™ covers attach and are put in was excellent, except for one problem I had with it.
Searching and searching, the tiny problem I found was that when you open and close the phone, an awful clicking sound happens, which almost sounds like the phone is going to snap. This may be a problem with the trial-unit I received, I don’t know.
The Style-Up™ covers came off very easily and quickly. The top cover had two indents on the each upper side which you slip your nail under to lift up - simple. When you put the front Style-Up™ cover back on place the two bottom inserts in the slot and clip on the top. The back cover is easily pushed in at the top and slid down. To put it back on push it back into place.
When you take off the back cover the battery will pop out by itself for you to grab out, and then you can see the SIM card insert. The battery is shaped to the back of the phone so you won’t have trouble putting it in the wrong way.
I found battery life on the Z600 extremely good. I got around the stated battery times, and was impressed at the battery life when I was using it to take images and make calls. The 780 mAh lithium-ion battery in the Z600 was perfect!
Sony Ericsson state that the included battery will last for up to 200 hours in standby mode, and up to 240 minutes talk time - well done!