This update to the venerable Sony-Ericsson Z500a adds Bluetooth, support for quad-band roaming, and lighted keypad animations. Plus, the Z525a is compatible with Cingular's exciting push-to-talk service, making instant communication just a button away at all times. Like its predecessor, the phone sports dual screens, a VGA camera with video capabilities and support for high-speed EDGE data networks.
Sony-Ericsson's reputation for cutting edge design is well represented with the Z525a. There's a 128 x 160 display housed under the cover while the outside sports a supplementary 101 x 80 color screen that can display time, call information, battery and signal strength, and more. The VGA (640 x 480) camera is housed on the front cover as well. The z525a uses an internal antenna-- nothing to snag or break off-- and a five-way button just above the dial pad is used to control most of the phone's menus and features. Up/down buttons on the left side of the phone can be used for quick volume control and menu navigation. USB data and charging ports, as well as a headset port, are located on the phone's bottom edge. And because the z525a's front and rear faceplates are changeable with Sony-Ericsson Style-Up covers, you can dress it up to suit your style. Color light effects around the keypad complete the calling and messaging experience.
The Z525a's phone book can hold up to 510 contacts with multiple entries per contact. A call list remembers your most recent missed, received and dialed calls. The phone's voice activated dialing makes calling your friends, family and associates as easy as saying their names. The phone also features a speakerphone for easy, hands-free talking. In addition to a vibrating alert, the phone supports polyphonic ringtones as well as MP3 ringers, allowing you to use portions of your favorite songs to alert you to incoming calls. There's even a bundled application that lets you mix your own ringtones with up to 16 tracks. Meanwhile, more ringtones can be downloaded from Cingular's MEdia Net wireless web service. Picture caller ID lets you assign a photo to specific callers. Similarly, a ringer ID lets you assign ringtones to callers. And don't forget that the Z525a's Bluetooth radio lets you use a wide range of wireless headsets for handsfree calling.
Cingular Push To Talk is a walkie-talkie type service that allows you to instantly reach others by eliminating the dialing and ringing steps in a regular cellular call. Push-to-talk calls can be made to one person or to a group of people. Choose Cingular Push-To-Talk as an add-on service to your voice plan to enable the service on the Z525a. Cingular's unique service allows you to see who is available before you initiate a call. Plus, you can place yourself in "do not disturb" mode if you do not want to receive push-to-talk calls.
Messaging, Internet, and Tools
The Z525a has all the bases covered when it comes to messaging. Support is built in for sending and receiving text, video, graphics and sound via messages. When used in combination with the phone's built-in camera, MMS opens up a whole new world of messaging fun. Instant messaging clients for ICQ, AOL, and Yahoo! are also included and the phone ships with a built-in email client.
Getting on the Internet is easy with the z525a. It supports the GPRS protocol, as well as the high speed EDGE data protocol. When used with a Cingular data plan and the phone's USB and Bluetooth data capabilities, the phone can be used as a wireless modem for laptops and PDAs. There's also a built-in web browser for MEdia Net downloads and mobile web browsing. Cingular's MEdia service lets you receive and send emails, read news headlines, get weather updates, download games and ringtones, and more. T9 text entry, a technology that makes it easier for people to enter words and text on handsets, is built into the unit-- a plus for mobile email and text messaging users.
A number of handy software tools are bundled with the z525a, including a voice memo recorder, a to-do list, a calculator, a calendar, and an alarm clock with a timer and stopwatch. Sony Ericsson Sync Station software lets you synchronize your Microsoft Outlook calendar, contacts, notes and tasks with your Z525a.
Imaging and Entertainment
The Z525a was designed for serious fun. The built-in VGA camera captures stills and video (up to 60 seconds) to the phone's 16MB of internal memory. Picture effects and custom screensavers, backgrounds, and themes can be set up to fit your personality.
Java support is built into the Z525a, making it a powerful gaming companion for both online and offline games. Games are downloadable via the MEdia Net service or you can use the handset's USB or Bluetooth data connection to load more games and files onto the phone.
The Sony-Ericsson Z525a weighs 3.46 ounces and measures 3.27 x 1.81 x 0.94 inches. Its lithium-ion battery is rated at up to 4.5 hours of digital talk time, and up to 12.5 days of digital standby time. It runs on the GSM/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900 frequencies. The phone comes with a one year limited warranty.
Sony Ericsson Z525a is a camera phone dressed for action and loaded with options. It offers easy to use VGA camera and video recording capability to capture fun moments.
It's a shame that more Sony Ericsson cell phones don't make it into the hands of more U.S. carriers. For the most part, the company's handsets enjoy a good reputation, with eye-catching designs, admirable features, and good performance. Take the Sony Ericsson Z520a, for instance. Though its camera and photo quality were unimpressive, we considered it to be a solid choice for a midrange cell phone. And better yet, it made it onto Cingular's handset lineup. It must have had some success overall, as the carrier now is offering a follow-up phone, the Sony Ericsson Z525a. Bearing a nearly identical design to its predecessor, the Z525a offers much of the same feature set, save for the addition of support for Cingular's push-to-talk (PTT) network. Performance is also comparable, though photo quality hasn't improved. The Z525a has a fair price of $99 with service.
When viewing both phones, you'd be hard-pressed to notice any real design differences between the Z520a and the Z525a. Both handsets have identical dimensions (3.2 by 1.8 by 0.9 inches; 3.3 grams) and bear the same blue removable faceplate (other colors are available), looped antennas, and rear-facing speaker. The camera lens is located just below the one-inch diagonal (101x180 pixels), 4,096-color external display, though it's disappointing that Sony Ericsson still left out a flash.
There's one major difference on the outside of the phone, however. Instead of the Z520a's camera shutter being on the left spine, the Z525a has a PTT button there. Though that means there's no dedicated camera key on the phone's exterior, we don't mind because many users reported problems with the Z520a's camera control. Because it's not lockable, a lot of people were taking pictures of the inside of their purse or pocket. The volume rocker and the infrared port sit below the PTT button; we like that you can access calendar appointments with the PTT button when the phone is closed.
The interior of the Z525a shows no changes from its predecessor. You'll see the same 1.8-inch (128x160 pixels) main display with support for 65,530 colors. The menu interface, navigation controls, and keypad buttons are alike as well (see the Z520a review for a full description). Here again, we're glad to see this good keypad from Sony Ericsson.
The Z525a incorporates features from the Z520a, with a few changes. The 500-contact phone book is too small, but you can save an additional 250 names on the SIM card. This time, however, you get only 13 (40-chord) ring tones instead of the Z520a's 46 choices. On the other hand, the simple digital music support means you can download additional tunes from Cingular via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Other features include a vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, a stopwatch, a timer, a notepad, PC syncing for your contacts, a tasks list, a calendar, text and multimedia messaging, a code memo for storing sensitive information, a speakerphone, a voice recorder, an infrared port, a wireless business-card exchange, POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail support, and Bluetooth for calls and file transfers. And of course, the Z525a offers support for Cingular's PTT network.