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We mentioned at the start of this review that the Vivaz suffered from a rather poor on-screen keyboard amongst other things, and it's now that we get to those other things. You see, the keyboard was merely a symptom of this phone's generally poor operating system. It's based on Symbian S60, which as we've pointed out many times before is a horrible touchscreen operating system.
For a start, it just looks drab and boxy. However, it's not just the simple styling of it – indeed we still rather like the look of RIM's utilitarian BlackberryOS – it's the way you interact with it. From the fact that scrolling requires you to use a scroll bar (you can't simply put your finger anywhere on the screen and move it about) to the way the text input box fills the entire screen, it just feels like what it is – a botch job, a sticking plaster of an update to an operating system that simply isn't suited to touchscreen input.
Sony Ericsson has made some changes, including adding multiple desktops and a custom media interface. However, the multiple desktops have fixed content so you can't just add shortcuts and widgets to your favourite programs and, just as with the rest of the operating system, sliding your finger across from one to the other doesn't elicit a smooth intuitive response. Instead it does nothing until you've finished moving then performs a rather crude sliding motion. As for the media interface, it is quite nice, providing a simple, intuitive interface for browsing your music, photos, and videos. But it's a fairly small plus point in the grand scheme of things.
The web browser is okay at rendering web pages and is reasonably fast, but all the interface aspects of it are infuriatingly clunky. As for email, it is supported but again it's let down by an unwieldy interface, likewise the SMS interface. Of course this is where the slideout keyboard is supposed to have helped, but sadly not only does it not come anywhere near close enough to making up for the other failings of this phone, it doesn't actually make for a very nice typing experience anyway. It's not the worst we've seen, but the layout has a few annoyances and the action is only okay.
If you haven't been put off already then the fact that this phone isn't particularly great at making calls should seal the deal for you. With no noise cancelling it picks up background noise easily, making it difficult for the person you're calling to hear what you're saying. Battery life is also nothing to write home about with a couple of days being about the most you'll get out of it in normal use.
Looking finally at price, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro is just about on the money in terms of build quality and features. However with such a clunky interface we'd only consider this phone if available at bargain basement prices (less than £200 on PAYG and on free on contracts of £15pm or less).
There's no two ways about it, this phone is far from one we can recommend. We like the styling and form factor and were it to have a decent touchscreen and run Android or some other half decent operating system, we'd be more interested. However, with Symbian S60 running the show, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro is positively infuriating to use.
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