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Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i review

Niall Magennis



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Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i
  • Sony Ericsson Zylo W20i


Our Score:


A few of years ago music phones were just about the most exciting category of handset around, but the world has moved on a lot since then and now all the attention is focused on smartphones, especially now that you can pick one up on pay as you go for as little as a hundred quid. However, Sony Ericsson obviously thinks that there’s life in the old dog yet and so has come up with the Zylo - a Walkman-branded music phone with a slider design and relatively large screen. Available for around £85 on pay as you go, can this music phone really stand out from the crowd in this smartphone age?

The Zylo’s design would have been cutting edge if it had been launched a couple of years ago, but today it, well, looks a little bit dated. It’s finished with a matt silver paint job, but the matt finish looks a bit cheap to our eyes. Nevertheless, the handset is relatively small and light measuring 103 x 52 x 16mm and weighing in at 115g. Also, the slightly curved rear helps make the phone feel quite comfortable in your hand when you have the slider open and the phone held to your ear.

The phone has a decent number of controls including a dedicated Walkman button on the right hand side to launch the music player. The central menu button also doubles as a play/pause control, but unlike some previous Walkman handsets there are no dedicated track skip controls and the headphone lead lacks a remote.

Nevertheless, the slider mechanism does feel both smooth and solid so we’d expect it to stand up to quite a bit of abuse. And when you slide the handset open you’re met by a keypad with large buttons that are very responsive and so ideal for those who are speedy texters.

One major problem with the design, however, is the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, the supplied headphones connect to the older style Sony Ericsson charging port. As the headphones aren’t a split design and there’s no standard 3.5mm adaptor cable supplied in the box there’s no easy way of using your own cans with the phone, which is hugely annoying on a music-focused handset.

For the display, Sony Ericsson has used a traditional 2.6in screen with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. While this isn’t really all that hot by the standard of today’s touchscreen smartphones it does the job here as the screen is very bright and thanks to its small size, text and graphics also look pin sharp.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


November 3, 2010, 12:34 pm

"The Zylo’s design would have been cutting edge if it had been launched a couple of years ago". That's the pertinent comment here.

Sony's caught up in the same bureaucratic processes that have weakened Nokia, and it's reflected in the dated product line. Really - why would anyone release a music phone now - with Android, it's zero cost to make it a smartphone.

This is what happens when the accountants, lawyers and middle managers win over the designers.


November 3, 2010, 8:55 pm

Nice wallpaper :)


November 3, 2010, 9:19 pm

@SRS: Actually, not everyone wants a smartphone. I know that's hard to believe when you read a site like this, but those people do exist. Two of them are my parents.

Reduced battery life and increased bulk notwithstanding, smartphones require you to learn a whole new way of interacting with your phone - through a touchscreen. This isn't something my 8-year-old nephew has a problem with, but my parents are completely flummoxed by it. Concepts like customisable desktops and app stores just don't strike a chord with them, they'd rather have something that follows the intuitive conventions they've become used to over the past decades. Things like number pads and call start/end buttons.

The iPhone is the only smartphone I would consider giving to my parents, but it just costs too darn much for what they'll get out of it. Bring on the iPhone nano I say...


November 3, 2010, 9:47 pm

@Chris - that's a very fair point.

But do your parents want a musicphone - which will have some added complexity - or do they want something easy to use that just makes and receives calls? If the latter, then I'd argue the Sony isn't any good for them (and millions of others too) either.

A lot of people's phone requirements might be covered by something like this: http://www.silverphone.co.u...

I still can't see who will buy the Sony...


November 3, 2010, 10:53 pm

What Chris said. Why do reviewers (and others) assume that a smartphone is inherently better regardless of the user's needs, and that to make anything other than a smartphone is a mistake? For the record, I have a smartphone. It's an excellent smartphone, and allows me to check e-mails, browse the Internet, use various social messaging and network apps, the list goes on... it's also a pain in the backside. It needs charging every other day (which is apparently good for a smartphone!), is large enough to be unwieldy, and above all it complicates the simple yet rather important task of actually calling people... incidentally, before you say "You should have bought Smartphone X", in my opinion this last point applies to ALL smartphones. In my opinion every one of them, without exception, is inferior to a dumbphone in terms of being used as a TELEPHONE.

Smartphone evangelists tend to be rather blind to their shortcomings - for example, I have seen many smartphones criticised for providing a whole one or two physical buttons, on the basis that everything should be handled on-screen. This ignores one rather important factor - the weather. Hands tend to be sweaty in summer, and cold (and therefore covered by gloves) in winter. Both can cause problems when it comes to simply choosing to accept a call. Plus, considering all the emphasis on "Intuitive" interfaces nowadays, jabbing one physical button to make a call and another to end it is about as intuitive as you can get - and a physical keypad is inherently easier to use when, for various reasons, you can't look at the screen!

I wouldn't give up my smartphone but still feel the need to own a dumbphone for a number of situations. More importantly I accept that there is a need for choice, in the same way that I wouldn't suggest doing away with all compact cameras on the basis that SLRs are "better". Many, many people (still the majority in fact) do not need or want what a smartphone has to offer. This does not make them insane...


November 3, 2010, 11:48 pm

@SRS: Actually, both of my parents are proud owners of Sony Ericsson W910s at the moment. They've always liked the Ericsson interface (they've had SE phones since before Ericsson became SE) and the Walkman features just add an extra button that they never press. That button didn't cost them anything, both phones were bought cheap on PAYG at the end of the model's life. Admittedly, buying a *new* Walkman phone for either of them wouldn't represent a sensible purchasing decision...

However, I see your point. If people like my parents don't use the Walkman features and everyone else buys a smartphone, what's the purpose of the Walkman phone? Maybe that's why the market at large has stopped taking any notice.

PS I've recently recommended a similar phone to the one you linked for my mother's octogenarian foster parents. One has arthritis and neither has owned a mobile phone before, so it seemed like the right choice. My parents aren't quite there yet :)

Neil B

November 4, 2010, 2:01 pm

MrGodfrey, I couldn't agree more. I have a smartphone that enables me to do all the normal smartphone things, email, web, social networking etc.. But it has a smaller screen that enables it to have lots of physical buttons and makes it more pocket friendly. Also the battery life is pretty decent as I can go 2-3 days between charges depending on how much I've hammered the GPS/wi-fi etc.

In fact the only thing I miss out on are fart apps and angry birds, but that's a sacrifice I'm prepared to make ;-)

Oh and my phone is well over 2 years old now and still going strong.


January 24, 2012, 7:39 pm

Does anyone know how I can install skype on this phone? Is it even possible? If so can someone please send me a link or something? Thanks

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