Sony Ericsson Z520i

Sony Ericsson Z520i
  • Sony Ericsson Z520i
  • Sony Ericsson Z520i
  • Sony Ericsson Z520i
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5


  • Stylish design, Comfortable keypad, External Screen, Light Effects, Excellent user friendly interface, Great Value, Included Bluetooth headset


  • Bulky handle, Outdated Internal screen, VGA Camera, Only 16MB of internal memory, No USB Connectivity

Bottom Line

The Z520i is a welcome addition to the populated mid-range mobile market, and provides a substantial amount of features for a good price.

Would you buy this?

The Sony Ericsson Z520i is an admirable entry into the mid-range mobile phone market and contains a solid list of features for a reasonable price.

If you're an iPod freak, you'll fall in love with the Z520i as soon as you remove it from the packaging - just like we did! Finished in gloss white with silver trim, the flip Z520i is a joy to cup in your hand and looks extremely sleek and stylish. We didn't understand the need for the large bulky handle on top of the unit though - it could have been removed to make the phone much more attractive and smaller in size as well.

The Z520i has an excellent external screen, which is quite small in size but still big enough to display important information including Time and Date, Battery Life, Reception Levels, Profiles and Background Wallpaper. We think that it's very important and convenient for flip phones to have an external screen, and it's good to see that Sony Ericsson agrees.

Flipped open, the Z520i continues the all white theme, and the blue backlit keypad is an extremely nice touch. A flashy feature is the light effects, which notify you of incoming calls, missed calls and new messages. For example, when the phone rings, and you flip the Z520i open to answer the incoming call, the area surrounding the keypad lights up and flashes to the music of your ring tone. These lights can be adjusted to settings such as Waterfall, Heartbeat and Fountain. Call us easily amused, but in the day and age where mobile phones are seemingly fashion statements rather than communication devices, we liked this feature.

The Z520i internal screen doesn't break any new ground and with just 65k colours, it is already quite outdated. We would have liked to have seen a newer 256k colour screen on this particular unit, but in saying this, the display is still quite clear and crisp. We did find it difficult to view in direct sunlight though and we also think the viewing angle could be improved. The screen also flickers on and off for about a second when you flip open the phone, but this is more of an annoyance than a significant problem. What we did like about the Z520i was its easy to use keypad, which is probably the best feature of this handset. The keys are easy to press and the controls are very simple to use, with only a 4-way navigational pad, Two selection buttons and Back and Clear keys to deal with. The buttons feel sturdy yet slightly padded, which makes for a comfortable user experience - overall, one of the better control systems on the mobile phones we've seen to date.

If you've used a Sony Ericsson handset before. You'll know that the user interface is one of the best around and we are pleased to report that the Z520i continues this fine tradition. Once again making use of a simple 3 x 3 grid system complete with animated menu icons, the Z520i can be mastered by even the most technologically challenged people out there.

The most disappointing feature of the Z520i is the camera. Although it is a fine effort for a VGA number, most handsets are shipping with 1.3 or even 2 megapixel cameras as a minimum so we were quite perplexed with Sony Ericsson's decision not to upgrade the digital camera on the Z520i. In saying this, the camera does have quite a number of options and settings including Panorama, Frames and Burst shooting, Night Mode, Black and White and Sepia effects, and a Self-Timer. The photos we took were respectable for a VGA camera, and its best feature is arguably the self portrait function, whereby you can use the phones external screen to take a photo of yourself. You simply hold the camera button on the right hand side of the unit and the screen will appear as a viewfinder, where you can snap till your hearts content.

Other notable features of the Z520i include Java support, WAP 2.0, Speakerphone, Bluetooth and Infrared connectivity, SMS, MMS and email messaging (with T9 predictive text input) and support for MP3 and AAC files. Unfortunately there is only 16MB of internal memory, so you won't be able to store much of your music collection, but this shouldn't be too much of concern to most - the MP3 player functionality is poor anyhow, as this isn't really designed as a multimedia handset. However the Z520i does come with in-phone software for editing videos, music and photos, even if it's lacking in options. The glaring omission from this handset is the lack of a USB port on the phone for the transfer of files. Only Bluetooth and Infrared are available for data transfer and with both of these connectivity options fairly slow, we would have liked to have seen a USB port for improved interaction with our PCs. Conveniently, Sony Ericsson has bundled a Bluetooth headset with the Z520i, which further enhances its value for money.

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