updated 09:50 am EST, Thu January 21, 2010
Sony Ericsson Vivaz gets US 3G support
After a premature reveal on Wednesday, Sony Ericsson today officially took the wraps from one of the first phones to provide HD video capture in a US-ready form. The Vivaz is now known to include North American 850MHz 3G and will let those on AT&T, Rogers and others record 720p video they can then push to Picasa or YouTube. In a small tweak to Apple, Sony Ericsson also touts that its uploads will work in the background, although full 720p detail will need to go over Wi-Fi due to battery worries.
Most of the details of the phone translate over from the early leak and put the Vivaz at the high-end of the full touchscreen smartphone field. It runs a customized version of Symbian S60 rather than Android that includes quick top-level shortcuts to services like Facebook and Twitter. In hardware, it carries high-end features that center on an 8.1-megapixel camera with image stabilization, face/smile detection and tap-to-focus shooting. It remains less ambitious than the XPERIA X10 or Satio but still has a 3.2-inch, 640x360 display as well as GPS and Wi-Fi.
The handset will have a quick turnaround and is due to ship before the end of March, but it's not clear which carriers will sell the phone themselves. Sony Ericsson has had little early success getting its smartphones attached to US providers and is only expected to get significant traction in the next few months, when the X10 may reach AT&T and T-Mobile in the US as well as a confirmed launch for Rogers in Canada.
The Vivaz nonetheless represents an important step for Sony Ericsson both in providing a distinct advantage over its competitors in one area as well as for saving the company itself. In just a year, the partnership lost half its share of the overall phone business and doesn't enter the top five of smartphones. With the exception of the Satio, its only other smartphones have been the Windows Mobile-based XPERIA X1 and X2, which have had a limited audience and aren't available in the US at all except as full-price unlocked devices.