For a long time now, phone manufacturers have been trying to cram as many megapixels as possible into their flagship camera phones. Indeed Sony Ericsson has been one of the leading exponents with its K700 and K800 series as well as more recent offerings like the Satio. However, the new buzz is around HD video so Sony Ericsson has obliged and released a slim touchscreen phone with an 8-megapixel camera that can also shoot video at up to 720p (HD Ready).
Contrary to what we've come to expect of camera-centric phones, the Vivaz isn't a bulky device with a large protruding lens. In fact, with dimensions of 107 x 51.7 x 12.5mm, it's very compact and thanks to its flush camera section, curved profile, and weight of just 97g, it's very pocket-friendly. However, with an all plastic body and screen, and unprotected lens, you may want to invest in a case to keep it in tip-top condition. All that plastic also makes it feel more like a device costing £150 rather than the £350 (SIM-free) it actually demands.
We're not too sure on the styling either. It seems simple enough with its largely black front and silver back but the translucent blue sides don't really fit in. Furthermore, we're immediately put off by the side-mounted headphone socket as it's just not practical if you listen to music on the move. At least there is one, though, and we're also glad to see a micro-USB socket for charging and connecting the phone to a PC, even if it is covered by an ungainly plastic flap.
We thought we'd like the dedicated buttons for both the stills and video camera, too, as they save fiddling around in menus to quickly change the mode you're in. However, it can be a bit confusing as you expect the more pronounced stills button to double as the record button for video, as it does on most other devices. Instead, it just changes back to stills mode, leading to much frustration. These two buttons sit below the volume rocker/zoom control on the right edge while a power/lock button lives on the top. Just three buttons for the call menu, the main menu, and ending calls are on the front. Along with the rest of the buttons they're a little mushy and indistinct and again put you in mind of a cheaper device.