Reviewed June 5, 2008 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
For mobile phone users who've been waiting for a US carrier 3G Sony Ericsson phone, the Z750a finally comes to the rescue. The flip phone shows Sony Ericsson's usual chic fashion sense and comes in three delightful colors. Feature-wise it has a 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0, an HTML web browser and a slew of multimedia features including an MP3 player, CV support, FM radio and more. The Sony Ericsson Z750a is a quad band world phone but its biggest attraction is the HSDPA support on AT&T's 3G network. The fast speed is great when browsing the web, watching streaming video and downloading music and applications. At a price that's one step above the entry-level feature phones, the Sony Ericsson Z750a on AT&T is a great bargain.
Pink bubble gum was the first thing that came to mind when we saw the Sony Ericsson Z750 in lush pink, although the purple and the gray colors are equally delicious in their own right. These are the kind of fun and cool colors we wish we'd see on smartphones. Heck, we got excited when the Samsung BlackJack II came out in a subdued burgundy wine color.
The Sony Ericsson Z750a has a shiny mirror-like front cover that conceals an external OLED LCD. The back is matte and it covers the loudspeaker and the battery. Like most shiny phones, the Sony Ericsson front cover shows fingerprints. The internal 262K color display is bright and color saturated, though not as bright as some high end Sony Ericsson models like the K850i. The display switches to landscape mode in applications like the image viewer, Cellular Video and web browser.
The Sony Ericsson Z750i in pink. It's also available in purple and gray.
The 2 megapixel camera lives on the front cover which is logical since you use the main display as the viewfinder. The Memory Stick Micro (M2) slot is on the right side of the phone. If you don't already own a recent Sony Ericsson phone, you'll likely have to buy a M2 card since the package doesn't come with one and few other devices use this kind of card.
The music play/pause and volume keys live on the left side of the phone, so you can control music playback when the flip is closed. The charging port uses the usual two-prong Sony Ericsson proprietary connector for charging and for accessories like wired stereo headsets (not included with the phone). The keypad has large number keys and is backlit in pink on our pink review unit. The d-pad is large enough to play games comfortably, and menu keys are smaller but easy to press.
Phone Calls and Web
The Sony Ericsson Z750a is a quad band world phone that works anywhere in the world GSM service is available. It also has HSDPA/UMTS support for the 850/1900MHz US bands, and AT&T, the king of 3G (HSDPA) in the US, is offering the Sony Ericsson on their network. Here in the Dallas metroplex, most AT&T 3G phones get half to 3/4 of full signal strength indoors and the Sony Ericsson gets 40% signal strength according to the bar reading. But the Z750a never drops a call and has very good voice quality. The phone's loudspeaker sounds good, but alas, the package doesn't include a wired headset. For hands free calling, the Sony Ericsson Z750a supports Bluetooth hands free and headset profiles. We tested the phone with several mono Bluetooth headsets including the Jawbone 2 and the Plantronics Explorer 330. On the Jawbone 2, both incoming and outgoing voice sounded a bit muffled. Volume was loud, however loud volume did not equal clear voice. The Jawbone 2 performed well in the DSP department, filtering out all background noise. The range between the Jawbone 2 and the Sony Ericsson Z750a was about 15 feet. The Plantronics Explorer 330 sounded better with much clearer voice and equally loud volume. The DSP wasn't as strong as the Jawbone 2 with some road noise coming through but overall performance was quite good. The Explorer 330 has notoriously short range with most phones we've tested, and it did OK with the Sony Ericsson, reaching about 10 feet.
Additional call management features include speed dialing (1-9), address book, voice control and more. The Z750's voice control requires you to pre-record voice commands and names for voice dialing, and it has support for magic word (activating voice dialing with a spoken word instead of button press). We tested voice dialing using the phone's built-in mic and via Bluetooth headsets, and it worked quite well as long as the speaker who recorded the tags issued the voice commands (this is not speaker independent voice dialing).
The NetFront web browser on the Z750 was a pleasant surprise. We had expected the usual lame WAP browser, but the Sony Ericsson's NetFront browser displays full HTML pages well with images and page layout intact. The browser supports landscape view, making for a more pleasant experience. AT&T's HSDPA speed also helps the web browsing experience, and we got 615 kbit/sec. on DSL Reports mobile speed test.
My Life with Music and Video
Even though the Sony Ericsson doesn't wear the Walkman phone badge, it certainly packs plenty of multimedia punch. The Z750a has a long laundry list of music and video features that few of its peers offer. The media player on the Sony Ericsson can play MP3 and AAC music files as well Podcasts and audio books. The sound quality through the loudspeaker is quite good and volume is loud. Like many of today's phones, the Z750a has Bluetooth A2DP support for streaming music to stereo Bluetooth headsets. The sound through the Samsung SBH500 stereo headset was delightful and full in our tests. The phone supports AT&T's music store where you can purchase songs and download them over the air. Additional music apps include MusicID which can identify songs, XM Radio (trial), FM radio (requires headset that acts as the antenna, sold separately), MusicDJ and music video (sign-up required).
The Sony Ericsson Z750a has AT&T's CV (Cellular Video) on-demand streaming video services and you can play the videos in landscape mode. CV content looks smooth with very few dropped frames. You can play the video in full screen mode, auto fit and actual size. The best performance came in auto fit mode on the Z750a, while the full screen mode stretched the video and the actual size mode was too small.
The 2 megapixel camera on the Sony Ericsson isn't the high-end Cybershot and Carl Zeiss grade. It takes decent photos by 2 megapixel camera phone standards, but not excellent ones like the Motorola Z9. The outdoor shots have good color balance but some photos look a little blurry. The contrast doesn't do as good a job at sharpening images as other recent 2MP feature phones. A lot of light-colored objects white-out more than usual. Indoor shots have plenty of noise but colors are balanced. Overall the photos look good on the phone's screen or posting on the web (not very high print-level quality). You can send picture via MMS, to HP Snapfish or via Bluetooth. Bluetooth doesn't have tight integration with other applications: for example when you transfer images while Bluetooth is turned off, the Sony Ericsson doesn't know to turn it on or tell you to turn Bluetooth on. Rather it tries connecting to devices that it previously discovered and fails. Bluetooth file transfer to an iMac was a bit flaky and we found a reboot helped when we ran into problems connecting to the desktop for file transfer. If you prefer not to deal with file transfer via Bluetooth, get yourself a M2 card to store and move photos and video.
The camera can also record video with audio up to 25 seconds for MMS or unlimited for storing locally. Video clips look decent and audio is in sync with video. The Z750a also comes useful tools like VideoDJ, a quick and dirty way of editing video clips on the phone.
The Z750's runtime is surprisingly short for a 950mAh battery, though standby time is decent. The claimed GSM/EDGE talk time and standby time are significantly longer than on 3G (9 hours on GSM/EDGE vs. 3.5 hours on 3G), but that advantage is disappearing quickly on AT&T as it completes its 3G deployment in the US in the coming months. With average usage: making a few short calls, taking a dozen photos, pairing with several Bluetooth headsets, playing a couple of music tracks per day and watch a few videos on CV, the phone lasted 3 days. You can charge the 3.6V Li-Polymer battery with the included world charger (100-240V support).
Judging by how many heads this phone turned when I used it in public, the Sony Ericsson Z750a will win over mobile users who are fond of eye-catching fashion phones. Under the bright colors, the Z750a offers more multimedia power than your average $50 feature phone. If you are looking for an upgrade from your Sony Ericsson W300i, the Z750a won't disappoint. And fellas, have no fear: the silver/gray model is masculine and attractive.
Pro:Great looking flip phone that's sturdily built. Very good collection of multimedia applications with AT&T's music and CV streaming video support. Good voice quality and great audio through speakers and Bluetooth stereo headset. Good browser.
Con:Cell reception is a bit weaker than many of AT&T's other 3G offerings. No headset included for the FM radio.
Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract after mail-in rebate.
Display:Internal main screen: 262,144 color TFT screen. Resolution: 240x320 pixels. External screen: OLED. Resolution: 36 x 128 pixels.
Battery:Sony Ericsson standard BST-33 Li-Polymer rechargeable battery (3.6v). 930mAh capacity. Battery is user replaceable. Claimed talk time is 9 hours on GSM/EDGE and 3.5 hours on 3G. Claimed standby time is 350 hours.
Performance:32 MB internal memory, about 28MB free at boot.
Size:3.8 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches. Weight: 3.9 oz.
Phone:Quad band GSM world phone. 850/900/1800/1900MHz. Triband 3G UMTS, 850/1900/2100MHz. HSDPA for data.
Camera:2 megapixel with up to 2.5x digital zoom. Still image resolutions: 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960 and 640 x 480. Can take video with audio.
Audio:Supports both Polyphonic ringtones and MP3 music tones. MP3 player onboard to play MP3 and AAC. Can record voice memo. Supports vibration alert.
Networking:Bluetooth v2.0. Supported profiles include headset, hands-free, A2DP, AVRCP, basic print, DUN and FTP.
Software:SMS, MMS, IM and web-based mobile email. PIM tools include phone book, Calendar, Calculator, Alarm clock, Stopwatch, Timer, Tasks and Notes. Entertainment tools include Media Player, FM Radio, Bluetooth media remote control, MusicDJ, VideoDJ and PhotoDJ. XM Radio trial included.
Expansion:1 Memory Stick Micro (M2) card slot.
In the Box:The Sony Ericsson Z750a with standard battery, AC charger and printed manual and guide.