Sadly, any positives derived from the camera are quickly cancelled out by this phone’s use of Symbian S60. Aside from its ability to multitask (something that apparently is less of a concern nowadays), this operating system falls behind just about every other one when it comes to ease of use in a purely touchscreen driven environment. Menus are inconsistent, keyboard layout is awful, some interfaces allow you to use finger-scrolling while others don’t, it’s rather ugly, and to top it all off, it’s quite slow as well.
Now, Sony Ericsson (SE) has at least done its best to help out. Symbian normally has a fixed homescreen, but SE has given the Vivaz five different “wallpapers”, which you can slide left and right. By default, one wallpaper shows favourite contacts, the next has Twitter, the middle one is blank (aside from a swirling pattern), the penultimate one is a gallery, while the last has shortcuts to your favourite programs. It’s an interesting change from the usual Symbian layout but is probably more of a sideways step rather than an upwards one.
Press the call end button and you get an overlay across the bottom half of the screen with shortcuts to the music player, message folder, search function, dialler, and multimedia interface. The latter of these has also been given the usual SE spit and polish so it resembles the PS3 crossbar interface. As ever, this works rather well and has full support for music libraries with album artwork.
As far as apps go, you get Faceboook and IM clients pre-installed and Google Maps is also present, which takes advantage of the inbuilt GPS. There are also a couple of crummy games but aside from the usual stop watch, calculator, and calendar bits and bobs, that’s it.
As to that most fundamental of phone attributes, call quality was fine with plenty of volume on tap. The loudspeaker is a little tinny but again, plenty loud enough for most practical use. Perhaps more importantly, battery life was actually impressive compared to most phones with large touchscreens – you should easily get two days and stand a good chance of getting three out of it.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz is an odd beast. On the one hand, its combination of a slim design, good basic features, impressive battery life, and HD video recording abilities make it quite appealing. However, it feels cheap, has a poor touchscreen, and the interface leaves a lot to be desired.