The Sony Ericsson Z750a may look bulky, but it packs in a ton of multimedia features, such as mobile TV, 3G data speeds, and music playback capabilities, to make up for its size. Its reflective and colorful surface also makes it an attractive handset for those that want a bit of flair out of a budget handset that costs just $29.99.
The phone is crafted out of smooth plastics, both reflective and matte, which make it feel cheaper than it looks. It’s available in three colors (gray, pink, and purple), the two of which will be more attractive to women. It weighs in at 3.9 ounces, and measures a large 3.8 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches.
The interior controls are standard Sony Ericsson fare; that means small, round buttons for navigating but decent-size keys for dialing numbers. Sony Ericsson offers a slightly different control key layout than most other manufacturers, and this takes some getting used to. Volume controls and a play/pause button are on the left side, a charging port on the bottom, and a Memory Stick Pro card slot on the right, which we wish was the more popular microSD format instead.
The small OLED display on the outer shell of the phone is blank while the phone is idle, much like on the Sanyo Katana LX. The display has glowing white icons that show Bluetooth connectivity, signal strength, the time, and battery life inside a small 128 x 36-pixel rectangle. The internal 2.2-inch display has QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels) and is quite brilliant. Menus, icons, animations, and Web sites looked sharp, clear, and bright.
We think the keypad is comfortable, but a little too soft to the touch, which makes typing long messages a bit annoying. Also, the keys have a softer keypress than the menu buttons, so you need to get adjusted to pressing some harder than others.
The menu system is typical for a Sony Ericsson phone and is merged with AT&T’s own menus. We appreciate the clutter-free desktop that has room for your own wallpaper to show through. To access the full menu, you simply click the right soft key, and AT&T’s icon list comes up with shortcuts to your music, messaging, video, and camera, among other applications. The media menu mirrors the menu of a Sony PlayStation, so those familiar with the PSP or PS3 will probably like what they see.
The Z750a’s real charm lies in its connectivity. Its quad-band GSM/EDGE and tri-band HSDPA 3G radios allow for fast data speeds in the U.S. and Europe. The phone is loaded with software, including a full HTML Web browser and a built-in RSS reader. Web browsing, in particular, was very good; CNN.com loaded in 5 seconds and NYTimes.com loaded in just 3 seconds. That’s better than the Samsung U550's 4.2 seconds and 6.3 seconds, respectively, for the same Web sites. Likewise, a YouTube video streamed inside the phone’s multimedia player after buffering for just 3 seconds.
The Z750a has an impressive array of entertainment features, but unfortunately the Z750a accepts only Sony’s proprietary headset. The Entertainment menu consists of the music player, video player, gaming content, FM radio, audio recorder, video/music/photo editors, and a Bluetooth remote control application.
The multimedia doesn’t stop there: the phone also supports AT&T’s MobiTV service, which offers 33 stations for $9.99 per month after a 14-day free trial. We watched MSNBC, and although the picture was tiny, we were impressed by the clarity—we could even view the ticker at the bottom of the display. Unfortunately, it also lagged a bit; people walking on-screen seemed to skip across. Still, audio was crisp enough to understand the voices.
The Cellular Video application, which offers shorter clips than the longer shows that MobiTV offers, worked well, even in EDGE data areas. Its controls were easy to use, and the Z750a delivered decent audio and video.
The phone’s music player is very capable; playback sounded good, and the equalizer lets you adjust the sound to suit your tastes. The Z750a also includes an FM and XM radio; both picked up a signal fairly well, but the XM sound quality was worse than FM, as it sounded more distant and less clear overall. The FM radio uses the headset as its antenna.
Messaging and E-mail
The device supports IM and e-mail accounts and serves them up well. AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger are included. We signed in to our AIM account quickly and easily and appreciated the tabbed interface that let us easily set up away messages and view open conversations. Like the Samsung U550 and Sanyo Katana LX, it only shows your online mobile buddies and not the whole list.
We liked the clean interface of the Z750a’s e-mail client, which can alert you when new messages arrive. Other supported accounts include AOL, AT&T Yahoo, BellSouth, Comcast, Earthlink, Juno, MindSpring, NetZero, Windows Live Mail, and Yahoo Mail.
While it may not be as robust as some of Sony Ericsson’s Cybershot camera phones, the 2-megapixel camera on the Z750a produced decent shots. The software for controlling the camera is very intuitive, and pictures turned out fairly good. Some of our test shots were worthy of viewing on a 19-inch monitor and were sharp with nice color representation. Because the Z750a doesn’t have a flash, pictures taken in darker environments were softer and more grainy. We liked that we could choose to send images directly to an e-mail address from the phone’s interface after snapping a picture.
The Photo Fix feature automatically adjusts the color balance of pictures, but it also added a yellow tint to our indoor shots. We preferred the PhotoDJ software, also packaged on the phone, that let us change the light balance, brightness and contrast, color balance, and even rotate the pictures. You can also add effects, such as color tones, or filters to give your pics a cartoon-like or black-and-white look.
You can record MPEG-4 video using the included video camera, but our videos were blocky and pretty dismal overall.
Call Quality and Battery Life
While some calls made with the Z750a on AT&T’s network were clear and free of static, other times we thought our caller sounded a little watery, and we were told that there was some noticeable static on the line during another call to an AT&T subscriber. Paired with our Samsung SBH500 stereo Bluetooth headset, audio was fluid, even at distances up to 32 feet away from the handset itself.
The Z750a is rated for up to 9 hours of talk time and nearly 17 days on standby. In our testing, the battery lasted a solid 3 days in 3G coverage areas.
The Z750a is on the large side, but it is definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a 3G phone that offers a ton of multimedia features for a great price. If you’re looking for a purely music-centric device, you may want to consider the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic, which provides a full 3.5mm headphone jack and better music controls for $20 more.