The Sony Ericsson Zylo features a fresh, modern design in matte silver and even though it's superlight, it doesn't feel cheap
Programs sit in the now familiar grid interface, accessed by pressing the central button. The social networking widgets are slow to navigate though
The audio player is the Zylo's trump card, but the 3.15-megapixel camera feels pretty token and produces mediocre, slightly grainy images in daylight
The built-in Walkman player has an easy to use interface and offers great audio quality, but the web browser and the social networking widgets do lag
The Zylo provides an impressive 210 minutes of talktime and 400 hours of standby
There was a time when Sony Ericsson was known for top of the line music phones, rather than clunky devices under the blanket term ‘media phone’. Sure, it’s recouped with handsets like the Xperia X10 Mini Pro (page X), but in general, Sony Ericsson media-centric handsets have of late been pretty mediocre. Well, it’s back to basics with the Walkman phone Zylo – and that’s music to our ears.
The Zylo is a fresh, modern design in matte silver with blue accents. The 2.6-inch screen slides up to reveal a spacious keypad. In classic Sony Ericsson style, the Zylo is super lightweight but doesn’t feel cheap. A stylish central ‘OK’ button also acts as a control for the music player, and there’s a multitasking button to view open apps. The volume control rocker can be found on the left, along with a dedicated Walkman button that doubles as the camera shutter when in camera mode. The 3.15-megapixel lens, without auto-focus or flash, feels pretty token, and we got mediocre, slightly grainy images in daylight. The home screen has a central widget toolbar that you can scroll through to view updates from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, plus Walkmate (count how many steps you’ve taken) and Music Genie (button-pressing dancing game). All other programs sit in the usual grid interface, accessed by pressing the central button.
There’s no 3.5mm audio jack – we’re back to Sony Ericsson’s standard chunky port here – and the bundled non-in-ear headphones don’t have an adaptor, so you can’t use your headphones. This doesn’t really matter though, because for such a low cost handset, the Zylo has impressive audio quality and the headphones are surprisingly decent. Live music sounds rich, and though the bass isn’t full enough to add the proper gravitas to dance music, it’s clear and fuzz-free. If we were going to quibble, there’s too much treble (but if you were going to quibble, you’d probably be buying something else entirely). The Walkman player has a great, easy to use interface, and will run in the background while you’re doing something else. The SensMe app recommends similar tracks from your library, while you can download more tracks from Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow Arena, or sideload them from a computer with the bundled MediaGo software.We’re not fans of PlayNow though, as the games and apps are incredibly expensive at £5 – this is a little more than iPhone offerings, which are far bigger and better looking.
For a basic phone, the Zylo has some decent higher end features, including a front facing camera for (rather pixelated) video calls, and bundled software that allows you to back up contacts, calendar, notes and bookmarks on to your PC. But the Facebook, Twitter and MySpace widgets are pretty slow to load and navigate, even though the phone supports high-speed HSDPA internet. Inside the Facebook app itself, you can view most of what you would on a desktop – friends’ profiles, news feed, your own wall – but you can’t comment on posts. The home screen widget is great though, showing notifications, the last posts from friends, as well as a box to directly post status updates. Meanwhile, the Twitter widget inexplicably shows tweets from everyone in the Twitterverse, not the people you actually follow. We found no way around this, though at least the widget lets you reply to these random tweets direct from the home screen.
With a great little music player and support for HSDPA internet, the Zylo is a low-cost phone with plenty of nice surprises under its hood. The social networking widgets do lag, but as bonus features to a good value music phone, we wouldn’t complain. A nice return to its roots for Sony Ericsson.