The Sony Ericsson Zylo is like a blast from the past. Suddenly, it's two years ago, we're wearing Boho chic, and a basic slider phone with a proprietary headphone jack can still earn the beloved Walkman brand. But this is 2010, we're parking our jet car and listening to Spotify on our cheap Android phones, and we've got a load of little slider phones just like it in a drawer, waiting to be sent off to the recycling centre. The Zylo is perfectly acceptable, and could be good for someone who hates surprises, but in 2010 we just have to ask -- what's the point?
The Zylo is available for free on a £15 per month, 18-month contract, or for £90 on pay as you go.
Out of tune
The Zylo is being talked up as a phone for music lovers, but its lack of key features means it can't walk the walk. It doesn't have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can't use your own headphones -- you're limited to the cheap ones that come in the box. It doesn't have a USB socket, so you can't easily transfer music over a cable. Thankfully, it does have a microSD card slot that supports up to a 16GB card, so that's one way to get music onto the phone fast.
We're also not impressed with PlayNow, Sony Ericsson's music store. The songs aren't a problem, but the prices are -- expect to pay £1.50 for a song that's on iTunes for 99p. The store isn't fun to navigate around, either, using the Zylo's fiddly Web browser. We'd prefer it to have a more phone-friendly app on board.
The phone does have an MP3 player and it does indeed play MP3s. The music quality is adequate, although we couldn't test it with proper headphones because of the lack of a standard jack. The media player itself doesn't look too impressive. In adverts, the phone is shown with a retro cassette tape filling the screen of the music player, but in our tests, the album art of our songs didn't fill the screen that way.
On the other hand, like most Sony Ericsson phones, the Zylo is packed with little features that you might like -- if you can be bothered to find and learn how to use them. For example, TrackID records a sample of a song from the built-in FM radio, or through the microphone, and finds the details of the artist, song name and album. There's also A2DP Bluetooth on board, so you can use wireless Bluetooth headphones.
The Zylo hops on the trendy bandwagon with a handful of widgets for the homescreen that display pictures and updates from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and a couple of others we haven't heard of. The Facebook one worked fine, but the Twitter widget never managed to connect. We also didn't find navigating the widgets very easy compared to Zylo's competitors, which tend to be equipped with trackballs or touchscreens.
If you do want to get stuck into social networking in a big way, we think a phone with a Qwerty keyboard or a touchscreen is handy, and the Zylo has neither. Updating your status could take a while with the alphanumeric keyboard, which has big buttons but not much travel.
The Zylo is Wi-Fi deficient, which means downloading lots of music or streaming video could be costly if you don't have much data on your contract. HSPA should keep speeds snappy over 3G. In our tests on the T-Mobile network, however, we didn't find surfing very fast, even with five full bars of signal. We tried to watch YouTube videos with the pre-installed app, and although the app was easy to navigate, the videos didn't play smoothly. They were blocky and choppy, indicating a slow connection -- although you may have a different experience on your own network.
We also missed GPS on the Zylo. Although Google Maps and geo-tagging are both features, they work with the less-accurate mobile triangulation method.
Despite its shortage of high-end features, the Zylo does have some treats in store. We're big fans of the FM radio and we think the Zylo is an attractive phone with a smooth, solid body and a snappy slider mechanism.
If you're not looking for high-end features and you want a familiar slider, the Zylo is an inexpensive phone that won't take you out of your comfort zone. Without a standard headphone jack or USB port, we can't recommend it for true music-lovers. Instead, check out the Sony Ericsson W995, which is actually a couple of years old. The W995 embodies the best of Sony Ericsson music phones. It's also a slider, plus it's got all the high-end features, like Wi-Fi and a standard headphone jack. Since it's an older phone, you can score it on the same £15 per month contract deal as the Zylo.
Edited by Emma Bayly