The Sony Xperia Miro. It's like a Tipo, only a little more premium, a little more shiny and a little more imposing. Coming in with a larger 3.5-inch display, the Miro still delivers the same 800MHz processor, Android 4.0 and Sony UI, only this time comes complete with 5-megapixel camera, quirky slender design and characteristic colour changing LED to complement the larger display.
Sony Xperia Miro Review Image - Design
Physically, the Miro is considerably less bulbous than the Tipo. Packing a recessed brushed meta chin at the base, it's certainly got spirit, with our version rocking with hot pink brushed metal accenting along the base and an LED directly above that changes colour depending on your theme.
The chin adds a novelty factor - there's no denying that. It's also available in multiple colours, so while our pink Miro won't appeal to as many as the Tipo for example, the black version will with its slender bodied entry level elegance.
In day to day use, as mentioned, the Miro feels relatively thin at 9.9-inches and fits comfortably in the hand and pocket. The soft touch back feels comfortable and grippy against our palm and the phone is well weighted.
Loaded with a micro USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a standard array of buttons, the Miro packs no surprises on the connections front, making the main highlight it's chin and colour changing LED.
Offering a resolution of 320x480 spread across a 3.5-inch LCD display, the Sony Xperia Miro isn't the sharpest phone on the block. Sony's UI is attractive on the whole and looks decent, however with handsets like the Huawei Ascend G300 costing less and packing more size and pixels, in terms of display tech, we had hoped for a little more.
In its favour, viewing angles are good and the phone is responsive to the touch.
Sony Xperia Miro Review Image - User Interface
Loaded with a UI akin to the Sony Xperia Tipo and the higher end J, it's Android 4.0 - but markedly Sony with a silky colourful theme, handy widgets galore and a whole host of Sony's proprietary services.
Out of the box, Sony do a good job of filling up your home screens with these. Understandably - they want you to know widgets and services are there, but on an 800MHz powered phone, it all results in a too much slow down.
De-clutter your desktop though and performance take a turn for the better. A long press of the home screen will enable you to personalise your theme and wallpaper - thereby controlling the colour of the LED light and a quick trip into the apps drawer will expose the delights on offer inside the Miro.
A few highlights include Sony's Power Saver app and widget enabling you to get the most out of the Miro, the Album app, pulling online images and plotting geotagged pictures on a map, and the attractive weather widget.
All in all, it's great to see Android 4.0 on board, though Sony mar the experience by overloading the default homescreen set-up with widgets. Clean it up though and you'll be in a good place considering the £110 price tag.
Camera and Multimedia
Not many phones in the £100 price range offer 5-megapixel cameras. You've got the obvious competitor, the Huawei Ascend G300 and the Windows Phone ultimate value phone - the Nokia Lumia 710. It's nice to have a third.
Images taken on the Miro look great for the price. The user interface is the best of the three phones mentioned and the inclusion of an LED flash helps. At 5-megapixels, the resolution is ample for Facebook and small prints and with an auto-focus lens, you can shoot both landscape and macro shots.
If comparing it against more premium models, focus is a little on the slow side at times. Dynamic range is ok as is noise handling. We would recommend that you can change the focus mode to touch to focus for better results and dig in the menu tweaking settings to suit your photographic needs. All in all though, stonking camera for the price.
Video is recorded at a maximum VGA resolution and offers continuous autofocus which is great. Recordings look Ok on the Miro's display, though the aspect ratio delivers letter-boxing. They play back smoothly and hold up when viewed on services like You Tube, but don't look great on HD TVs and monitors.
Sony's 'Films' video hub and 'Walkman' music player are on board delivering amongst the best multimedia experience you'll find for the money. While the screen isn't going to be ideal for long movies therefore, as a budget media device the Sony Xperia Miro is a strong contender with its good camera, expandable storage and a media-centric UI.
Connectivity and Storage
The Sony Xperia Miro is sufficiently connected for the price, Android 4.0 means you have access to Chrome browser and there's Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth on board, as well as Sony's DLNA service. Web browsing is a decent experience across 3.5-inches given the choice of browsers, despite the low resolution meaning you will probably have to do a fair bit of pinch-zooming.
One of the great advantages the Miro has over the Huawei Ascend G300 and other entry level smartphones is on board storage. There's 2GB user available memory and on top of that a micro SD card slot for an additional 32GB.
Performance and Battery
With the same 800MHz Qualcomm processor and screen resolution as the Xperia Tipo, performance is comparable. With the £30 price bump being reflected in the screen-size and slimmer form, not to mention more characteristic build, it's a fair ask from Sony. The fact is however that the more powerful Huawei Ascend G300 is a little cheaper and packs a better screen, though no Android 4.0.
The 1500 mAh battery is stated to deliver a talk time of up to 5 hours and a standby time of 470 hours. This translates to about a full day of standard use with a little juice still left in the tank. Call quality on the Miro is average, volume is ok and clarity the same, with voices at times sounding ever so slightly muffled.
At the budget price point, it can be difficult to work out what makes a good phone - something is always compromised to keep the costs down. The Miro excels in terms of multimedia and design. It also offers Android 4.0, a newer version of Android than the direct competition.
It does however sacrifice on screen resolution and processor speed. This won't be too detrimental for most given the fact the Miro looks good and packs so much personality. Gamers may want to check out the Huawei Ascend G300, anyone in need of a simple UI and larger screen can opt for the Nokia Lumia 710. What the Miro does though it does well, being perfect MP3 player, a decent camera and a well designed handset for little over £100.