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Sony Ericsson Z600

9th November 2003

Sony Ericsson Z600The Sony Ericsson Z600 is the company's first attempt at a clamshell phone since Sony and Ericsson merged their mobile phone divisions, and it was announced as a line-up of no fewer than three very different clamshells.

The Z600 sits in the middle of the range, about the bargain basement Z200 and below the 3G compatible Z1010. The "Z" designation indicates that this is a Sony-derived product and one the natural successors to the Sony Z7 clamshell which was pretty much the last own-brand Sony mobile.

At its heart, the Sony Ericsson Z600 is a tri-band phone with a built in digital camera, MMS, Bluetooth, java, built in games and a 65,000 colour screen. It's fairly light too, weighing 106 grams and with some decent bundled games to keep you amused.

The twist with the Sony Ericsson Z600 is that is comes with changeable front and back covers in a variety of colourful designs. This means you can turn your dull silver clamshell phone into pretty much any colour you want, and it's this, plus some other fun features, and not the impressive technical features, that is probably the Z600's selling point.

Sony Ericsson Z600 gamepadPut all this into context.. there are a lot of good clamshell phones with digital cameras and Bluetooth now, and the problem for Sony Ericsson was always going to be making the product just a little different from the rest. A simple move such as snap-on covers in different colours is surprisingly effective, because a key selling point in any mobile phone is the "wow factor" of how cool it looks. The Z600's snap-on covers help in this respect, but things like some interesting accessories, such as the game pad (pictured) help to make the phone just a little out of the ordinary.

What's in the case? Well, actually it's a fairly ordinary but competent phone underneath. It sports a 128x160 pixel display in 65,000 colours.. the display is reported to be an improvement over the rather poor display of the Sony Ericsson T610, but it's still not up with the rest of the class. The Z600 has a fairly puny 2Mb of inbuilt memory, but since the digital camera only takes 288 x 352 pixel pictures there's not a whole lot to fit into the phone's memory anyway. It's a tri-band phone with GPRS and also boasts a pretty good array of inbuilt games.

The Z600 measures 90 x 48 x 27.9 mm and weighs 110 grams. Maximum talktime is a highly impressive 9 hours with about 12 days standby time. So, it's quite a large phone but the talktime gives a clue as the Z600's true market niche, which is in business. Although clamshells tend to sell mostly to private customers, businesses tend to buy the candy-bar style format, but the Z600 could change that, and capitalize on Ericsson's hard-won share of the business market.

There is a cloud on the horizon though, and that's in the form the the Nokia 7200, the new clamshell from Ericsson's arch-rival. Although pitched at a slightly different market, the Nokia 7200 shows what can be done when an existing phone format is completely reworked to provide a radical new model.

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