A 3.2in touchscreen dominates the front of the Vivaz. It packs in an impressive 360 x 640 pixels, which puts it comfortably ahead of many large touchscreen rivals like the iPhone and HTC Legend, though it isn’t quite up there with the latest smartphones like the Google Nexus One and upcoming HTC Desire, which both have 3.7in, 480 x 800 pixel screens. It does, however, create a wonderfully sharp image and you can fit a decent amount of information on it as well – especially useful for web browsing. Good viewing angles and strong colours also really help when using the phone’s camera.
But for all its viewing prowess, the screen is severely let down by its resistive touchscreen. This makes general navigation an absolute pig as you’re constantly forced to press rather than just touch the screen. This isn’t so bad for pin-pointing individual icons and text links but if you’re moving around the screen – scrolling for instance – it feels so much more cumbersome than capacitive screens. And with no support for multi-touch, using the keyboard is very slow whereas gestures like pinch-to-zoom are absent. At least one advantage of the Vivaz’s resistive screen, though, is being able to operate the touchscreen camera controls while wearing gloves.
The camera itself is of course the big draw with the Vivaz and for the most part it lives up to expectations. The extra detail that 720p video provides over the usual standard definition or lower resolution of many camera phones really stands out, and in good lighting you can get very usable results. That said, sensor noise is obvious and you certainly won’t want to be shooting your next epic on it, but with a smooth framerate as well, it’s still a welcome step up. In darker conditions, the noise level does increase significantly but a night mode means you’ll at least be able to see things and the LED lamp provides a light boost within a range of a metre or two. In fact, aside from the weediness of the LED, we’re rather impressed, though we do concede that HD video on a phone is probably a bit pointless.
As for the still image performance of the camera, it’s decent if unexceptional. Like the video, it shows an obvious step up compared to many phones but still suffers from the usual camera phone caveats of high sensor noise, poor sharpness, and lack lustre colouration. In fact, due to the poorness of the lens, it even comes out worse in terms of detail than the Nokia N900, which is a smartphone, not a camera phone (the Vivaz does produce more accurate colours though). The lack of a proper Xenon flash also holds the Vivaz back from competing with the best camera phones. Photos and videos are stored on microSD cards and you get a whopping 8GB one in the box. We’re also glad to see that you can access the memory slot without removing the battery.