Sony Ericsson is quickly becoming one of the most well known mobile phone manufacturers on the planet. Time after time they bring new and exciting features to the consumer which other manufacturers don’t adopt for quite a while. With Sony Ericsson you’re sure to have the latest and greatest technology – and the Z800i is an example of just that.
The Z800i is a 3G-based device, one of only a few on the Sony Ericsson handset range. With the latest features in a sexy clamshell format, the Z800i is a winner in all aspects.
Sony Ericsson fans down under have been waiting for their latest 3G creation; so how does it perform?
The latest addition to Sony Ericsson’s 3G-range of handsets is the Z800i. Here, you will find all the latest technological enhancements like a 262k colour display, video call capabilities, 1.3mpx digital camera, Memory Stick Duo Pro external memory support, and support for 3G UTMS networks and GSM networks.
The Z800i has two displays, an external 65k colour 101 x 80 pixel display and internal 262,144 colour display. The internal display is of the utmost quality and has to be seen to believed. When used as the viewfinder for the MotionEye™ rotating 1.3mpx digital camera the quality is amazing! Browsing multimedia based WAP pages and watching video clips on the Media Player application will never be the same again. The internal LCD measures 176 x 220 pixels.
Supporting the UTMS network (based on the 3G/WCDMA networks), the Z800i has data speed capabilities of up to 384kbp/s. This is blisteringly fast. You will find that video clips, full audio files & more are downloaded faster than some DSL connections! The handset operates on the GSM networks when out of 3G range (known as roaming) on the 900, 1800, or 1900MHz GSM band.
Two-way video calling is supported thanks to both the MotionEye™ rotating camera and 3G network capabilities. The camera can be rotated to face inwards, so your caller can see your face when in a video call! Want to show them what’s going on in front of you? Twist the camera around – it’s as easy as that. The handset even has a dedicated video calling key and photo phonebook.
A hot swappable Memory Stick Duo Pro port can be found on the left side of the handset, underneath the battery cover. Removal of the battery cover must occur before you can access the Memory Stick Duo. A 32mB memory stick is supplied in the sales package and more can be purchased separately. This format of memory has high speed data transfer and is small too. 6mB of internal memory is offered on top of the external memory.
Now for more on this MotionEye™ camera. At 1.3mpx, video and images captured are very high quality. The camera can rotate to almost 360° and automatically rotates itself depending on which way it is facing. It is very strong and I wasn’t worried about it breaking due to excessive movement. More on the camera can be found in both the Making and Receiving Calls & Camera Performance sections of this article.
With these, and many other exciting features the Z800i is a packed with the latest features of today & tomorrow! :)
Considering Sony Ericsson don’t release that many clam-shell handsets, they definitely had the right idea when crafting the Z800i! The handset is, of course, a clam-shell, in a pleasing silver colour theme. There are two available colours of the Z800i, a Linear Silver and Titanium Silver. The different between the two is that the latter does not have lines down the front, hence the name of the first colour – Linear silver. The handset I received was Titanium Silver.
The handset measures 102 x 49 x 23.6 mm, so is quite a bit larger than your average clamshell. I found it to be a bit bulky at times especially when in your pocket, but nothing that you can’t deal with. Weighing in at 128 grams it’s not all that heavy. The dimensions and weight do have their advantages though – you can hold the Z800i at your ear with your shoulder easily, and it fits very comfortably in hand.
Sony Ericsson have ensured that you won’t get a sore ear from chatting on the Z800i like with some of their other phones, but rounding the end of the Z800i off in a small curve. It does look sharp, but quote me on it that it doesn’t hurt your ear! The top of the Z800i houses the MotionEye™ 1.3mpx camera and hinge for the flip. The camera is positioned between the two black bars and has many indents for increased grip when rotating the lens.
The external front of the Z800i houses a small display and speakerphone (in optimum position for amplifying sound), along with a Flashing LED light. When charging the light is a static green, and when everything is a-okay the light flashes green. The small display is of average size at 101 x 80 pixels, and fits snugly in the middle of the Z800i. The same rounded edge you’ll find on the actual handset is on the “frame” of the mini-display and also the speakerphone, just below it.
The “Three” logo is placed at the very bottom of the front flip, perfectly in the centre. Other branding includes the “Sony Ericsson” text at the top and on the battery cover the green and silver Sony Ericsson logo. There is a “Memory Stick Pro Duo” label on the right hand side of the Z800i, right where the Memory Stick Duo plugs in under the battery cover. The buttons on the Z800i (external) are all black except for the dedicated camera key, which is chrome so you can distinguish between it and the others. Volume control can be found on the left side with camera and the flash light on the right.
At the bottom of the Z800i are the interface ports, as you will find on any Sony Ericsson handset. Nothing has changed here – far left is for wired headsets, and far right for power connector. There is an extra port off to the right though; it’s mini-USB! The mini-USB connector allows high speed data transfer to and from the Z800i, and you can still charge the handset while transferring data as it doesn’t use the default interface port. A USB cable is even included in the sales package. At the same spot as the mini-USB connector on the left hand side is the small infrared window, nicely hidden.
Open the Z800i up and it’s a treat for all senses! The beautiful 262,144 colour display activates and the blue backlight of all slimline the keys lights up. It’s not a familiar scene here, all the interface keys are towards the top and the numerical keys down below (as usual), but there is an extra row of special function keys below the interface keys. The numerical keys are black and the interface keys silver. An extra key towards the bottom right is the on/off key. All keys on the Z800i are very flat but indents on either side of them allow them to be pressed easily; they are very tactile.
The build quality of the Z800i is exceptional in all circumstances, the battery cover slips on securely and there was no doubt in my mind that the clamshell was locking shut properly and clicking into place when opened. The battery cover is easily removed with one hand, just push down the middle with your thumb and pull down! The memory card can be seen to the right with the SIM in the centre. The battery must be removed (there’s a fingernail section above the memory card slot) before you can remove the SIM card.
User Interface & display
The Z800i uses the familiar interface found in all the new Sony Ericsson models, but in the Z800i it goes that bit further. If you’ve used a new Sony Ericsson phone with themes before, you’ll know how much they can change the entire feel of the phone. Well, just when you thought they couldn’t get any better – they have! The themes on the Sony Ericsson Z800i are absolutely amazing. Support for animated wallpapers (both externally and internally) helps the situation, but the menus are now animated too. On most themes, there will be a trail of some sort (for example, of bubbles) following the cursor and bouncing off the boundaries of screen. You’ll fall in love instantly! The Z800i does come with pre-installed themes and more are created each day which can be downloaded to a PC or directly to the handset. A “power-saving” theme comes which uses less “fancy” designs, conserving the battery power.
Now, onto something else! The Z800i has two displays. As already mentioned, the external screen is 101 x 80 pixels and capable of 65,536 colours. It will display your next upcoming calendar event, the time, date, service provider, reception status, battery life, connectivity links established, and quite a lot more. You can also set a wallpaper of your own to the display, or use the theme-defined choice. The display can be activated using the volume keys, which when pressed twice, will show your calendar appointments.
The internal display is more delightful, with 262,144 colour quality! At 176 x 220 pixels you can’t get much larger these days. It will consume you with its quality, the user interface looks marvellous and is totally animated and user friendly, with easy-to-distinguish icons. Another point to note is the tabbed user interface, its back!
Navigation around the Z800i’s user interface is for the most part with the 5-way navigational pad. The circular key allows you to move left, right, up, and down with an “enter” or “accept” key in the centre. The general rule of thumb is that whatever is displayed on the left hand side of screen (ie. What the left soft key will do) is what pushing down the navigational key will do. That said, there are two soft keys for use, a right and left soft key. Their function is displayed just above them on screen. Under the left soft key is the return key, which will move back a menu or when held down will return you to the idle screen. Under the right soft key is the cancel key, mainly for messages or other input boxes.
The main menu is launched with the middle key in the navigational keypad. The 12 icon menu is as follows: 3 Services, Internet Services, Entertainment, Camera, Messaging, Media Player, File Browser, Phonebook, Video Call, Calls (call register), Organizer, and Settings. Moving with the directional key will move the “spotlight” and any theme-based trail along to the icon. When selected an icon pulsates, and when you open the main menu messaging is the selected icon.
Personally, the Sony Ericsson interfaces are the best I’ve come across in mobile handsets. Many other manufacturers are too concerned with getting the latest features out onto the market then spending time with the interface which is ultimately what the users have to put up with! With Sony Ericsson there is a never a dull moment using the UI and it’s very simple to use.
Making and receiving calls
The Z800i has the ability to perform both voice and video calls. Video calling is one of the major advantages of being on a 3G capable network. The Z800i even has a dedicated video call key for easy access. The handset also offers the user the ability of hosting calls over a Bluetooth headset, and the integrated loudspeaker is also at your disposal.
A photo phonebook displays the defined picture of your caller when they’re calling. With thanks to the external display, their image can be shown here when they call. If your caller isn’t in your phonebook or doesn’t have an image, the number or name will be shown on the external display. From here you can open the handset to accept the call. If you have a Bluetooth headset connected and active you will need to press the button to answer the call.
An icon will display when you are receiving a video call to indicate that it is in fact a video call. You will need to open the Z800i up to initiate the call – your camera will then become active and you and your caller connected. The video calling interface is very easy to understand – a small window shows your image, and a larger window shows the callers streaming video. You can use the navigational keys in a call (like you do in the camera application) to adjust the brightness or zoom in/out. The options button will launch a menu which allows you to, among other things, activate the speaker phone, switch the images (you become large they become small), hide your video, access advanced camera features, mirror your clip, or transmit a demo clip.
When you want to make a video call, simply input the number that you wish to call (or browse to it in the contacts) and press the dedicated video key below the navigational key. To initiate a standard voice call, input the number and press the call button. To hang up either a voice or video call, close the handset or press the end key! Volume adjustment keys can be found on the left hand side of the handset.
Personally I found the video quality streaming from the Z800i to be a little choppy at times, but this may have been simply due to the video zone coverage in my area. Other than that the quality was great, and with the 262k colour display your caller’s video looks awesome.
As always the Z800i supports all the latest and greatest messaging formats. SMS, EMS, MMS, e-mail, and instant messaging formats are all supported. With 3G speeds MMS, e-mail, and instant messaging is super quick and not to mention becoming increasingly less expensive. The handset has predictive text input too.
On launching of the main menu the handset automatically selects the messaging icon. Once opened, you can then access text and picture messages, sent items, drafts, sending messages (outbox), and the dedicated e-mail and instant messaging applications. When you selecting “new message”, you are prompted to select either text (SMS/EMS), or picture (MMS). The message composition application is very easy to use and I experienced no lag when texting, even with T9 predictive text activated. I personally think Sony Ericsson’s predictive text method is a little hard to use, having to use the navigational key to select between different words.
SMS messages can be spread among several messages, also known as long-SMS. This allows you to say more than you can fit into a single 160 character SMS message. EMS messaging allows you to attach small images and sounds to your messages, whereas MMS messaging allows high quality images, video, sounds, and text to be inserted into a single message.
Three offers an e-mail service with their servers, allowing you to send messages from your own @three.net.au e-mail address. These are cheap and very quick thanks to 3G data rates. E-mails can be sent to supported handsets or the normal work or home e-mail address. MMS messages can also be sent to e-mail addresses.
The Z800i is compatible with three GSM network bands – GSM 900, 1800, and 1900MHz. This allows support for the GSM networks in Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and some area’s of the America’s. Local connectivity comes in the form of Bluetooth, Infrared, and USB data-cable. You can connect to the world-wide-web using GPRS (in 2.5G coverage areas) or UTMS data.
The Z800i comes ready-to-go out of the box with PC software CD and a USB data-cable. The data-cable uses the mini-USB connector on the bottom right of the handset. It connects to a PC or laptop using a free USB port. You can perform synchronization tasks, back up your data, access the internal and external memory (upload/download files), and much more with the included software. USB is by far the most stable and easy-to-use connection method with a PC or laptop. The mini-USB connector has a rubber cap over the top to prevent any unwanted material getting in.
The infrared port is located in the same place as the USB connector on the opposite side of the handset. Infrared can be used to beam data from the Z800i to another infrared-enabled device (like a PDA or other mobile phone), or used to connect the handset to a PC for everything that a data-cable connection would do. The PC software that comes with the handset can be used for Bluetooth, Infrared, and USB connections.
Bluetooth can be used for handset-PC connections and also to connect accessories to the Z800i like an audio headset. Many API’s are included in the Z800i allowing the connection of many different accessories. Bluetooth connections are easily established and secured via the settings menu of the Z800i. Bluetooth headsets are perfect for both video and voice calls; video calls especially as with a video call the speakerphone is activated – not good in high-noise areas. The Bluetooth connectivity can be used to connect the handset to a PC, so long as the PC has in-built Bluetooth support or a Bluetooth adapter (mostly USB these days).
A WAP 2.0 browser can be used with GPRS or UTMS data, allowing streaming media, animations, and much more to be displayed on the 262,144 colour LCD display. Three’s Content Service has a host of features including ring tones, streaming media bulletins, and much more. UTMS is a third generation mobile network, with increased data capabilities from existing 2G networks.
GPRS is used when you are not in Three’s video coverage area. You must be in a 3G coverage area (as indicated by the handset displaying “3” and not “Roaming”) to accept and make video calls. Thanks to GPRS you can still access Three’s Content Service when you are Roaming on Vodafone’s network with acceptable speeds.
I experienced no problems when it came to the battery life of the Z800i. With such high power-consuming features like the LED lights, 1.3mpx digital camera, video calling, and Java applications most handsets would drain very quickly. The Z800i managed to have longer battery life than most handsets with similar features.
Sony Ericsson estimate around 600 minutes for GSM talk time, and 150 minutes talk on the WCDMA (3G network). For video calling, you can expect around 60 minutes. On the GSM network around 240 hours of standby time can be expected with 220 hours on the 3G network.