Last updated: 2004.09.10

Sony Ericsson Z600 GSM World Phone

diff from T610 | SIM | phonebook | Speed Dial | shortcuts | Data/WAP | t-zones | emails | PC Connectivity| calendar | carrying case | alarm | unlock | links |

This review contains my user experience of using my Sony Ericcson Z600 world phone in United States, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. I switched from a Sony Ericcson T610 to this phone at the beginning of 2004. I traded my used T610 in for the Z600 in Hong Kong, at the famous Sincere Podium in Mong Kok.

Since the Z600 functionally is very similar to te T610 I have copied many of the functional description from my T610 review to here so that you don't have to switch back and forth.

I use T-Mobile as the provider in the United States with a country wide plan (free calls anywhere to anywhere within the US) and roam with them in Germany. In Hong Kong I switch to a prepaid SIM card from Orange because their rates are so much cheaper.

Out of the Box Experience

There really isn't much of an out of the box experience because I traded my old T610 in for this phone. The guy at the store opened the box and switched the SIM card for me. Seriously, the phone feels great in my hand. I like the flip style phones in general, having used to them while I was in Tokyo. And I actually wanted a larger (at least longer when opened) phone so that the microphone is closer.

Box Content

The phone comes in the same sized box as the T610. It comes with a AC adaptor (universal voltage) with the local plug format. It comes with instruction manual, and two sets of covers. The standard blue covers is what everyone put on their phone. Who would really use the multicolor stripped cover?

Differences between the T610 and Z600

  • The obvious: It is a flip phone instead of a candy bar phone. It is thicker as a result.
  • There is a secondary display on the back (see more later)
  • There is a speaker on the back on the outside.
  • The screensavers clock now has a digital LED look to it. I like it better then the non LED font in the T610.
  • This is a little funny -- I am very used to locking the keypad on the T610. It is "right menu button" followed by "*". I keep trying that key sequence on the Z600 and it does not work. Then I realized that there is no key locked feature on the Z600 because it is a flip phone. Just flip the phone close to prevent acidental keypress!

The Secondary Display

The secondary display on the outside only works when the phone is closed. Normally it shows the time. If you press the volume button it will (back) light up and shows a little more information. The display is a dot matrix type that supports graphics.

  • When the alarm goes off, it show a little bell icon and the time below it
  • When a call comes in it caller ID the caller and shows the phonebook name
  • When you are using a headset and use voice dial, it shows the command "Speak now" and the error "No Match". It shows a little dialog bubble during that operation.

Phonebook

The phonebook / contact list behaviour is different in the 610 than from my Nokia. The contacts must be in the phone's internal memory and not on the SIM card. More specifically, the down joystick contact list search is searching only the internal memory. Under phonebook/advance, there is an option to copy numbers from the SIM card to the phones internal memory.

Voice Command

Something interesting: If you have voice command recorded for a phonebook entry, the phone will play back your voice label when that person calls. Since the Z600 has an external speaker, you can hear that voice tag as "caller ID". Cute sometimes. Annoying other times. As anyone close to you can tell who is calling you. Imagine your phone suddenly rings and says "Mom" out loud...

Entering a Voice "Tag" for a phonebook entry -- Go to "Phonebook , Voice Command , Add". I think you should be able to enter the voice tag when you are dialing or looking at the entry from the call interface. This is how the Nokia works. The Sony interface is not as obvious.

Speed Dialing

Speeding dialing -- i.e. using the 1-9 keys to dial a number quickly, is very different from my Nokia. The speed dial settings are stored on the SIM card. You have to edit the order, or positions, of the numbers on the SIM card.

The tricky part is -- to move an existing number out of its slot to make way for a different number, you have to go to: phonebook / advance / position list / to move it. Then you can assign a number via phonebook / manage contact / edit contact / positions.

The actual calling key sequence is also different. Press one of the 1-9 keys, then press call.

Shortcuts

Some usage shortcuts, but also see the "shortcut" feature below.

  • During call, press and hold "C" will mute the microphone.
  • In standby mode, press and hold "C" will toggle the "silent" mode, this is very useful as there is no easy way to switch profiles: The Nokia phones let you switch profiles (outdoor, meeting, etc) by holding down the power button).
  • Initialate voicd dialing -- press and hold one of the volume buttons on the left side of the phone (if you do not have the headset plug in)
  • locking the keypad -- press more (soft right key), then asterisk
  • to get to the service menu to get the s/w revision string: > * < < * < *

shortcut feature

Besides the shortcut keys described above, the phone itself has a shortcut feature. You can assign different functions so that you can get to them via the shortcut menu. i.e. only two button press away. But wait -- there is more -- the "first" position shortcut is available as the "left joystick" selection. i.e. you can customize what feature is accessed when you press the joystick left during standby.

Data Connection and WAP

There seems to be lots of confusion to their data plans. There are two WAP plans called t-zone. One is for $2.99 with data limit, and the other one is for $9.99 without limit. But those are for WAP services only via their WAP gateway. So in theory you cannot get other data services (via your PC) with it. Most of the online forums seems to say that you can use it to access the net via the PC via IR or bluetooth. But you are probably not suppose to. Plus it may flow through a wap gateway with conversion. There is the unlimited $20 internet plan that offers full data services, which include the WAP services. At least that is my understanding.

t-zones

I cannot get the Z600 to work with T-Mobile's t-zone service. They said this phone is not supported. This is rediculous, but that's American wireless service provider for you. The phone does work with normal HTML websites.

Email Setup

There are two ways to do this. First is use the web email provided by t-zones. Again, using t-zones, e-mail settings, setup access to a outside email box. Since I have several domains under my ownership, I just setup another email box on my domain and configure t-zones to pull emails from that mailbox. This way you can access one or more mailbox via "web", or WAP via the t-zone menu. However, since the T610 has a built in email client, it is much easier to use the built in client on the phone. Just go to email, add a new account, painfully type in the email settings (incoming server, mailbox (user), password, etc and you can check emails on the phone directly.

Multiple Email Box

I want to be able to check multiple email inboxes on the phone. After all, Eudora lets me do that on my desktop... I can setup multiple email (IMAP) acocunts on the phone, but you can only have one active at a time. As you switch accounts, the inbox is lost.

IMAP Email / Long Messages and inbox

I find that the phone will download only parts of a messaeg and part of the inbox each time. Since I have lots of messages in my inbox, it will download the first 47 or so, and if I want to see the older headers, it will reconnect and download some more. I guess that save memory on the phone. However with the t-mobile network it is sloooow.

Entering pause and stops in phone number for calling voice mail box

This information is somehow not in the user guide. From the Sony support site, this is the info:

PAUSES and STOPS are used for sending extra information or halting the transmission of information after the phone number has been dialed and connected. This is widely used with voice mail systems. To add a PAUSE press and hold down the "ASTERISK" key until you see the letter "P" or two little line which both represent a PAUSE. A STOP can be added by holding down the number sign key (pound sign key). A STOP is used to halt the transmission of information until the send key is pressed. NOTE: GSM phones do not support STOPS. They do however support PAUSES.

However, using this method, I can only first "dial" the number ,then save it to the contact record. It does not work when editing the contact. Luckily, Bob figured out that you can hold down the "7" key while editing to enter a contact and emailed me the tip. Thanks! So the best way is to hold down the "7" key while editing phone numbers when editing contact info.

GPRS/Data access from Windows/Using the Phone as a Modem

You need to install the Sony Ericcson Communication Suite to do this. However the suite insists on installing the XTND-PC software for syncing the phone with Outlook, which I do not use. The installation seems to abort when Outlook is not found. I downloaded the communicatino suite again from the Sony support website, ran that, and that time it continued after I cancel the XTND-PC setup and it worked. After the install, run the dialup wizzard to create the actual GPRS dialup connection.

I needed the phone to be connected so that the wizzard can find it. For the infrared option it is easy. Just enable the infrared port on the phone and place it next to the PC so that they can "see" each other.

Bluetooth Connectivity

To get the PC to use the phone via bluetooth to access the internet is a little harder on Windows 2000. I cannot find a way to activate the bluetooth connection so that the wizzard can find the phone via bluetooth. I ended up copying the network settings and changing the comm port from the IR comm port to the bluetooth comm port. The bluetooth comm port (modem) was installed by my bluetooth adaptor software.

I sometimes use the bluetooth connectivity with the Sony Ericsson HBH-65 bluetooth headset. See my review here.

on Windows XP this is a bit easier. Starting with My Bluetooth Place, enable the dial-up service on the phone device, and put *99# as the number.

Calendar Display

The month view on the Z600 is amazingly clear. I added that to my shortcut so that I can get to it via three or so keystroke. I am debating to make that the "joystick left" selection or not. Currently I use the "joystick left" shortcut to set/cancel the alarm. The default display shows Monday as the starting day of the week. You can change that via "Caldendar / options / start date" menu item.

Pictures

I use the Z600 as a mini photo album. The resolution of the display is 128 pixel wide and 160 pixel high. The area that is available for showing pictures however is only 128 pixel wide x 127 pixel high. I use the ACDSee program to crop/resize my pictures down to the 128 x 127 size, 16 or 24 bit color. It is great to be able to carry a few personal pictures with me at all times.

Alarm

I use my cellphone as my alarm clock each day. A few notes on the alarm on the Z600:

  • the default alarm sound selection is not very loud, you probably want to change it.
  • The alarm will still go off if you switch the phone off, which is nice if you don't want to be bothered with phone calls, but want to wake up by the alarm in the morning, just like my Nokia 8890, but
  • After the alarm going off when the phone is off, the Z600 does not offer to turn the phone on for you, as an option. The Nokia does. After getting up I always want to turn my phone on, so there is an extra step with the Z600. Mildly annoying after getting use to my Nokia.
  • There are two alarms on the Z600 (Don't remember about the T610). You can set a recurring alarm and it will let you pick the days of the week. If you get up at the same time each day you can use that function. Otherwise you have to use the one shot alarm.

Miscellanous Notes

  • When the phone is running out of battery, it will sound an alarm.

Links