Sony Ericsson is outstanding when it comes to camera phones, music phones and phones with FM radios. Since this latest smartphone has all these plus GPS, wi-fi and more, it should be a real winner, right? Well, maybe, but this is also a touchscreen phone, and that’s not Sony Ericsson’s greatest strength.
What we like
Sony Ericsson makes the most of its connections with Sony for Cyber-shot and Walkman skills. Music quality is good and the interface is easy enough to use. The 12-megapixel camera is outstanding – easily good enough to leave the dedicated snapper at home, even though there’s no optical zoom. The camera launches quickly, with much less shutter lag between pressing the trigger and the camera shooting than on most camera phones. What’s more, it won’t be defeated by low light thanks to a Xenon flash.
The home screen is very successful, with five pages easily accessible by swiping your finger across. Of these, the best is the shortcuts page which takes you instantly to TrackID, Google Maps and Wi-fi Wizard among others. The internet page is similarly useful with links to Facebook, YouTube, BBC News and more. Touchscreens spring to life when you don’t need them to, but this phone has an effective sliding screen lock switch. And the gloss black plastic casing manages to be glitzy without looking cheap.
What we don’t like
Resistive touchscreens just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to ease of use – certainly not compared to the capacitive screen found on the iPhone, HTC Hero, Nokia X6 and so on. So it’s annoying that this advanced phone has the less successful resistive screen on it. It’s fiddly and harder work because it’s pressure-sensitive which makes texting particularly cumbersome, especially since the keyboard is very small. A supplied stylus is easier to pinpoint letters but styluses aren’t ideal.
The interface is mostly efficient but there are annoying anomalies – some items respond to a single press, some to two presses. This is a music phone as well as a snapper, so why isn’t there a 3.5mm headphone jack? Some manufacturers save dedicated sockets for headphones for their high-end handsets but this is a premium phone. Sure, there’s an adaptor, but it’s just not the same.
With an improved interface, a better touchscreen and a 3.5mm headphone jack, this would be a near-unbeatable phone. The handset looks snazzy and feels good in the hand. The camera is terrific and de livers great results. The music software is easy to use. But there are too many faults or omissions to make this the phone we’d been hoping for.