Sony Ericsson’s latest handset offers gesture-controlled gaming for a more involved gaming experience, but how will it measure up as both a gaming handset and a feature-rich phone?
What we like
Let’s get this out of the way first of all – we really like the gesture controlled gaming. For some games, like Bowling, you move the entire handset as though it were a Wii remote. So you set up your shot with the keypad then swing your arm to power the shot. In other games like tennis, you prop the phone on the provided stand and use you hands to indicate the moves your character makes.
It’s good fun, but you will feel quite silly doing it, especially in public. We can’t imagine, for example, killing time waiting for a friend in a restaurant or travelling on public transport and playing these kinds of games. Luckily, there are alternatives such as Tetris which rely on the traditional keypad controls. There are loads of games pre-loaded on the handset too, so you’ll have plenty to be getting on with although the novelty will wear off.
The Yari has a really lovely screen, at 2.4-inches it’s a nice size and very crisp. It also auto-rotates as you turn the phone, which is a nice touch.
Built-in GPS allows you to make us of location-based apps like NearMe or to send your location as a text message if you ever find yourself in a scrape.
The 5-megapixel camera is fine although the camera button is a bit fiddly to fully depress. Picture quality is good and there are a host of options including smile detection. Our only issue with the camera function is that the flash is a bit strong and, although you can turn it off, you can’t simply reduce its power slightly. Sharing photos via Facebook, MMS, email or Bluetooth is very simple – almost a one-button affair.
With white hightlights and a matt-black back, the handset is nicely styled and relatively slim.
What we don’t like
The buttons are a little annoying. There are so many keys that we often found ourselves hitting the wrong thing when we wanted to answer or hang up a call and the clear/delete button is far too easy to press accidentally. Of course, this is something you’d grow accustomed to over time but it feels very counter-intuitive. There are also a further two option buttons above the four main buttons, not to mention the d-pad which has a central select button, as well as the four shortcut buttons. It smacks a little of overkill! Obviously Sony Ericsson want you to have little cause to slide the keyboard out other than for typing, but we feel sure they could have achieved this with a smaller array of buttons.
As a music player, the Yari is nothing to write home about. You can launch the music player quickly and easily from the home screen but its linear menu system is inelegant. The built-in speaker on the back is actually not bad, but it’s frustratingly lacking in the 3.5mm headphone jack department.
The Yari is a little bit slow to load more intensive applications, such as games. And if you’re after a phone that you can customise with add-ons and apps, this probably isn’t for you. Web browsing is a bit of a chore, with pixellated web pages feeling archaic and outmoded – although if you’ve got reasonable 3G reception then speed shouldn’t be an issue. Sony Ericsson haven’t seen fit to include Wi-Fi, however.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Yari; it is actually quite nice to use, and the styling is much more mature than a lot of Sony Ericsson’s other efforts. Even after we wore out our arms playing the gesture-based games, the handset still managed to fulfill most of our needs. But once again, Sony Ericsson’s major downfalls are its over-complicated button controls and its proprietary headphone port.