There are features aplenty in the handsome, cool-looking Aino, from strong video playback, an excellent touchscreen and a decent camera to working as a remote control for a PlayStation 3, all crammed into a surprisingly slim, sleek case. And if you like touchscreens, but also like conventional keypads, this handset has both.
What we like
The handset in its subtle matt finish is highly desirable, and the screen is bright, detailed and colourful. Close the slide and media shortcuts appear onscreen to choose from photo display, camera mode, music, video playback or FM radio, all of which work well. The 3-inch screen is great for playing back video. You can stand the phone on its side and the speakers sound pretty good. Plus, the charging dock is neatly angled to let you view video. Even better, a BBC iPlayer app is loaded already, so you can watch shows providing you have an internet connection, which is neat.
Closing the slide puts the phone into clock mode, which is cool, too. All the regular Sony Ericsson specialities are here, from an excellent FM radio to TrackID to identify songs you hear playing but just can’t name. There’s a strong camera, too, with an 8.1-megapixel resolution which is much higher than most phones and comes with an LED flash.
What we don’t like
It’s a familiar gripe with Sony Ericsson that even its most media-friendly handsets usually have to manage without a proper 3.5mm headphone jack. A little Bluetooth adaptor means you can plug in your best headphones and stream music to them without having to be connected to the phone, but a regular jack would have been good. Sound quality was good through Bluetooth, but a cable is usually better.
There’s a great touchscreen here but the weird thing is that as soon as you open the slide, the touchscreen switches off. That’s fine when you are making a phone call, for instance, because you don’t want to be activating things with your ear, but it’s otherwise confusing. And for those familiar with the way you can use the touchscreen to surf the internet on the iPhone, say, being limited to interacting via the keypad is frustrating.
Onboard memory is pretty minimal, relying on microSD card storage. The phone comes supplied with an 8GB card, which is decent enough.
It’s a good size, it’s slim and, boy, does it pack a lot into a small space. But despite the good camera, superior touchscreen and stack of features, there’s something muddled and underwhelming about the Aino. The touchscreen is underused, the interface is unexciting and the phone feels slightly unbalanced when open. Video playback is good and the charging dock is neat, but it’s not quite the phone we hoped for.