There’s something pleasing about an entry level phone that looks good enough to hold its head up around the more pricy models. The Sony Ericsson S312 falls into this category thanks to the mirrored borderless 2-inch screen, although there’s little else going on.
What we like
Putting aside for one minute the fact that the screen, when off, can double as a compact mirror, there are few features to set this phone apart from the other entry level phones on the market. Having said that, its lack of bells and whistles means that it performs well in terms of battery life, and the menus are clear and easy to navigate.
Despite just having a 2-megapixel camera, there is particular care and attention given to this feature. For instance, the S312 is one of the few phones to have separate still and movie camera buttons, which are designed to make it quicker for you to capture those ‘special moments’ that phone manufacturers keep insisting we have. Still photos can also be improved via Photo Fix, which automatically adjusts the brightness, sharpness and colours, and genuinely does make photos appear a lot better.
What we don’t like
Despite the aim of the dedicated camera buttons being to activate the camera quickly, you can’t actually do so if you’re within any other feature or menu – it only works when you’re on the home screen. The phone also had difficulty sending images via Bluetooth, despite both jiggering and pokering the settings on both the phone and the receiving device.
Some will embrace the featherweight-ness of the phone, while others will look to that light casing and call it what it is – plastic. Overall, it just about gets away with it, but Sony Ericsson should perhaps have left off the shiny gold ring that adorns the central D-pad on the phone.
And one more moan: on the homepage, there is a shortcut to something called Cam alb. At first I thought I’d picked a foreign language setting, but it turns out, this is an incredibly odd way of indicating you can get to the camera album. Very odd.
It’s difficult to get excited about this handset – it offers calls, texts, and a few basic camera features. But with its attractive screen, and clear menus, it could be just what a minimal phone user might be looking for.