Mini Review of the Ericsson Z600


The Ericsson Z600 is a GSM camera phone in a clamshell design. That alone begs comparison with the Sharp GX22, which offers the same basic features in a similar package, but superior display quality and a vastly better camera.

Last Updated: 06-Nov-2003

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

General

The first thing you notice about the Z600 is its funky design. It looks like two separate phones stacked on top of one another, rather than a single product with a hinge. Youíll either love it or hate it, but looks arenít, after all, the most important aspect of a cell phone. If they are to you, then you really shouldnít be wasting your time reading reviews anyway.

The aluminum casing is solidly built, and the flip has a positive stop that should prevent creaking when stress is put on the hinge. However, you should always treat phone hinges with respect, and try not to put too much stress on them when you talk on the phone.

The large screen doesnít come close to the gorgeous display on the Sharp GX22, but it has much richer color than other Ericsson offerings, such as the T616. The display is probably good enough for the average consumer, but below what is obviously possible.

The built-in camera provides a maximum resolution of only 384 x 288 (same as the T616). As Carsmovies noted, this feature is really intended for taking pictures to use as wallpaper, or to send to other phones via MMS. This sort of resolution isnít good enough for taking real photographs, as even 640 x 480 isnít quite up to that task.

Carsmovies sent along a photo he took of me at Square One (which Iíve included at the bottom of this review). Iíll make the same recommendation here as I did with the T616; donít buy this phone for the camera. Buy it because you like the phone, and consider the camera as a bonus.

Unlike many other Ericsson phones, the menus are lightning fast (or they sure seem that way). Itís a joy to work your way through the menus on this phone, which work the way all the other Ericsson phones should work. The menus also make excellent use of the display, and are as good as any menus Iíve seen on just about any phone. Remember however, that I didnít really get a chance to play with the phone for a very long period of time.

The phone also includes infrared and Bluetooth, which both seem to be standard on Ericsson high-end GSM models. This should be a major selling point for those wishing to use their data connections with palm or laptop computers.

RF Performance and Audio Quality

RF performance is exceptional. During tests against my Nokia 6310i (which thus far has proven to be the standard-bearer for RF) the Z600 holds its own. The audio breaks a little bit more under weak signal conditions, and I did mysterious drop two calls when I hadnít been expecting to. None-the-less, the performance is close enough to the 6310i to declare it a tie.

Too bad incoming audio quality doesnít match the stellar RF capabilities. The tonal balance of the Z600 is decided thin and peaky, though sound reproduction is top notch. The earpiece has plenty of volume, but when you turn it up the sound becomes unpleasantly piercing. Outgoing sound quality isnít bad, but itís mostly just average.

The bottom line is that the Z600 is a rather expensive phone (selling at around $600 Canadian), and it offers very disappointing incoming audio. The cameraís quality is too low to take seriously, and the phone lacks some of the more powerful features found in the Ericsson P800. However, as a stylish clamshell phone, the Z600 does seem to strike a chord, and so it should find a number of enthusiast buyers. I just canít number myself among them.

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Here is a photo of yours truly taken at Square One:

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