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Archive for April, 2012

Nikon Coolpix P510

Nikon Coolpix P510: Review

Short Review:

The Nikon Coolpix P510 superzoom heads up the the brand’s refreshed range for 2012 and is the successor to the Nikon Coolpix P500, increasing the zoom from 36x to 42x.

We went along for an early look at Nikon’s new cam, although the unit that we saw wasn’t powered up, as it wasn’t the final model.

But even without any juice, the P510 still looks set to be a strong contender in the superzoom sector. Naturally, we’ll update our review with more information and a rating as soon as we can get a mitts on a full working version.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Build

The chassis of the Nikon Coolpix P510 certainly feels sturdy, as you’d expect for a camera costing just under £400. Weighing in at 555g, it’s obviously not as hefty as an SLR, but it’s significantly heavier than a compact so that you’re unlikely to forget that you’re carting it around in your bag.

The grip is suitably comfy while the textured finish provides enough grip to keep the camera safely in your hand. What’s more, the textured thumb rest on the back of the unit is placed in a natural spot that most should find comfy and intuitive.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Controls

The most notable difference when compared with its predecessor is that the effects mode on the P510 has been given its own dedicated spot on the top dial, so that you no longer have to navigate your way through a series of menu screens to find it. This is a nice touch for those who want to add a few arty touches to their pics, although possibly not so interesting to serious snappers.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Screen

The P510’s packs a decent-sized 3-inch, 921k dot LCD screen that can be tilted 80 degrees downwards and 90 degrees upwards. This is a very handy feature for shooting in awkward places, such as over the top of a crowd, or shooting very low down on the ground.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the screen powered up, but the tilting mechanism certainly felt reassuringly sturdy and smooth to operate.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Battery

The Nikon Coolpix P510 sports an EN-EL5 rechargable Li-ion battery, and offers a quoted battery life of approximately 240 shots per full charge.

We weren’t able to test out the battery life as we were only had a short time with the camera, and more importantly, there was no battery in it, but naturally we’ll be giving it a thorough test once we get a full review unit in.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Picture quality

While we can’t comment on the P510’s picture quality just yet, we can tell you that the camera sports a 16.1 megapixel sensor, along with a focal length of 4.3 – 180mm and a f/3 – 5.9 aperture.

The 510 can also record video up to full HD (1920×1080 pixels) and offers a 3D shooting mode for creating 3D images for viewing on compatible TVs and computers.

It also sports a vibration reduction mode to minimise pesky image blur caused by shaky hands.

There’s also a range of filter effects including a nifty selective colour mode that converts your image to monochrome then adds a splash of colour, after you’ve chosen your specified hue using the dial on the back of the camera and an onscreen colour guage.

Nikon Coolpix P510: Verdict

While we’ve yet to see the final working version of the Nikon Coolpix P510, our first impressions were certainly good. The sturdy chassis is comfortable to hold and didn’t feel too heavy (although it’s worth noting that the unit we saw didn’t contain the added weight of a battery).

The screen’s tilting mechanism also looks like a good selling point for those shooting in tricky situations, while the arty filters will give the beginners something to play around with.

The 42x zoom is the star of the show here, although we didn’t get to try that out for ourselves. Obvisouly we’ll bring you a full review as soon as we have our hands on a test sample.

Brief Review:

Introduction:

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 555 grams, the Nikon Coolpix P510 is slightly heavier than the previous P500 model, but its design is only minimally different. Like most high-end superzooms, the Nikon P510 has the typical bridge camera look, with a chunky hand-grip, large lens barrel, pop-up flash and an eye-level electronic viewfinder. The deep grip is moulded to fit comfortably into your right hand, and is rubberised in a textured material for added comfort.

The other dominant part of the P510 is the 42x zoom lens, which goes from an ultra-wide 24mm to a frankly incredible 1000mm in 35mm terms. Considering that with an SLR, you would need at least 3-4 lenses to cover the same focal range, the single, fixed-mount lens of the Nikon P510 can be described as remarkably compact, even if it does extend quite a bit when zoomed to full telephoto. Superzooms have always had a reputation for having a high “fun factor”, and the P510 is no different. The ability to quickly go from wide angle to ultra-telephoto is something that has to be experienced in order to be fully appreciated. It certainly gives you a kind of freedom you do not feel with any other type of camera.

For its size, the P510’s lens is also respectably fast, with maximum apertures of f/3 at 24mm and f/5.9 at 1000mm. Note that the lens cap has to be removed before turning on the camera – failing to do so will result in an error message being displayed, and you’ll have to turn off the camera before you can turn it on again, which is a bit annoying. Although if you only want to review what’s already on the card, you can also power on the P510 by holding down the Playback button, in which case the lens won’t extend.

Thankfully Nikon has included Vibration Reduction (VR) to help prevent camera-shake, an essential feature on a camera like this. Interestingly, while VR is lens based in the Nikon SLR system, it is of the sensor-shift variety in the P510. Vibration Reduction makes a noticeable difference to the sharpness of the images, as shown in the examples on the Image Quality page, offering a claimed 4 stops of compensation.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Front Rear

You can hear a slight mechanical whirring noise when it is turned on, but otherwise you don’t really notice it, except that that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos. Sadly, there isn’t a dedicated button to turn VR on and off – but at least leaving it on did not seem to negatively affect the battery life, with the camera managing around 240 shots using the supplied Li-ion battery. It’s still a good idea to turn VR off (via the menu) when the camera is mounted on a tripod, lest the system itself cause blurring by trying to counter camera shake that isn’t there.

Zooming is done by way of a conventional zoom lever that encircles the shutter release button sitting atop the right-hand grip. It is of the dual-speed variety: rotating it all the way in either direction will adjust the focal length quickly, while rotating it partially will cause the lens elements to move more slowly, enabling you to set the desired focal length more precisely. You can alternatively zoom using the innovative side zoom control on the lens barrel, which is a vertical rocker switch activated with your left hand. It has a slower action than the main zoom lever, and is therefore ideally suited to shooting video when you require a more sedate zoom with less mechanical noise.

There are two different ways of composing images with the Nikon Coolpix P510: you can use either the eye-level electronic viewfinder (EVF) or the rear screen. Unfortunately, there are no eye proximity sensors that would allow the camera to toggle between the two automatically – you need to press a button every time you want that to happen. The EVF is a bog standard affair with 201,000 dots and average magnification; nothing to write home about, especially in 2012. The three-inch rear LCD screen is much nicer to look at, thanks to its high resolution of 921,000 dots. Even more importantly, it’s articulated and able to tilt up or down, giving you some added flexibility in composing your shots. A truly free-angle LCD, which can also be rotated out to the side, would have been even nicer though.

The layout and number of external controls haven’t changed much from the P500. You still get a traditional, top-mounted mode dial with P, A, S and M shooting modes – perfect for the photographer who wants to take full control – as well as full auto, Scene Auto Selector, Night Landscape, Landscape and Backlighting modes. The new Effects mode allows you to apply one of nine different special effects as you shoot with the Nikon Coolpix P510, with a live preview on the LCD screen showing exactly what the final image will look like. There is also a User (U) setting you can use to quickly retrieve a combination of your most frequently used settings. The shutter release, zoom lever and power button are essentially in the same locations as on the P510, joined by a new customisable Function button which replaces the P500’s continuous shooting button.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Top Pop-up Flash

In the Backlighting mode, the P510 captures three consecutive shots at varying exposures and combines them into a single photo with a broader range of tones. Three different HDR settings are available for selection. When the Night Landscape scene mode is selected, the P510 takes several shots at a fast shutter speed and then combines them to create a single optimized photo, allowing you to shoot after dark without having to use a tripod. The Easy Panorama scene mode allows you to take vertical or horizontal panorama photos simply by moving the camera in the direction of the on-screen guides. Multiple shots are then combined into a single panorama photo. The angle of view can be selected from 180° (normal) and 360° (wide).

The rear controls are also laid out very similarly to those of the preceding model. There is a well-positioned control wheel in the top-right corner (when viewed from the back), which makes it easy to change the aperture and shutter speed in A and S modes respectively, but there’s still no second dial on the hand-grip which would have made operating Manual mode much easier. The familiar multi-selector with its centred OK button is similar to the P500, with the same individual functions that are mapped onto the Up, Down, Left and Right buttons. These include the flash and focus modes, the self-timer and exposure compensation, respectively. The multi-selector is now a much nicer rotating wheel with an audible click and a textured surface to aid operation. There is still no obvious shortcut key to ISO speed, which is only accessible from the menu (as is white balance) or by assigning it to the Function button.

The P510’s focus modes include AF, Macro, Infinity and Manual. AF can be centre-spot, user selectable from 99 focus points or camera selectable from 9 points. In Face Priority AF mode, the camera can detect up to 12 human faces and will focus on the one closest to the camera. We found that regardless of AF area mode, auto-focus speed was satisfactory for still subjects, but a little too slow for fast-moving ones. Manual focusing is also possible, though a bit awkward: you get a rudimentary distance scale on the right-hand side of the screen, and can adjust focus via the Up and Down buttons. The centre of the picture is enlarged to aid you with checking focus, but unfortunately this is achieved by  way of interpolation rather than real magnification. The whole process is pretty slow, but can still be a godsend when the auto-focus system starts acting up.

The flash of the Nikon P510 has to be popped up manually, using the button on the side of the mock pentaprism housing. You can set the flash mode to auto, auto with red-eye reduction, fill, slow sync and rear-curtain sync via the Up button on the multi-controller, but only when the flash is raised. As there is no hot-shoe or sync terminal on the Nikon Coolpix P510, and it does not offer wireless TTL flash control either, the only way to sync up an external flashgun with the camera is to optically slave it to the built-in unit.

The P510 has a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) that records the exact location (latitude and longitude) where a picture was taken, recording it in the image’s EXIF data. You can also use it to record your route even if you don’t take any taking pictures. The GPS does take a while to lock onto a sattellite in city centres and it doesn tend to drain the battery if left on all the time. Note that strangely the system isn’t as sophisticated as on the all-weather AW100 model, which additionally can set the camera’s clock, plot points of interest and has a built-in electronic compass. The 3D shooting mode creates a 3D image which can be played back on any 3D-capable TVs and computers. The P510 automatically combines two images taken from different positions to create the 3D effect, with the second shot cleverly taken automatically when the camera detects that you are in the right position.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Front Side

The P510 has the ability to shoot full-resolution stills at up to 7 frames per second (fps), slightly slower than it predecessor. Alas, the camera cannot keep up this speed for long, as the buffer fills up after just 5 shots. In other words, you can only shoot for a bit more than half a second in the Continuous H mode. Thankfully, there is also a slower burst mode, called Continuous L, in which the frame rate drops to 1fps, but you can capture up to 100 full-resolution photos at the Normal quality setting. Note that you cannot use the flash in any of the continuous shooting modes. Disappointingly the P510 doesn’t support the RAW file format, something that all of its main competitors offer, and a prosumer feature that frankly we’d expect on this class of camera.

The P510 can shoot Full HD (1920×1080-pixel) movies at 30 frames per second, with stereo sound and full use of the optical zoom. It also offers a 720p mode at 1280×720 pixels (30 fps) and VGA mode at 640×480 pixels (30 fps). Nikon’s smart designers put the stereo microphone on the top of the camera right behind the flash. A Wind Noise Reduction function is available in the Movie menu. Serving to minimise the noise of wind blowing on the microphone, it is recommended to be turned on in strong wind only, as it may also make other sounds difficult to hear. Sensor-shift VR is not available during movie recording, but you may opt to turn on electronic image stabilisation.

The P510 is also capable of high-speed (HS) movie recording, albeit not at Full HD resolution. VGA videos can be shot at 120fps, VGA movies at 120fps or 60fps, HD (720p) clips at 60fps or 15fps, and HD (1080p) movies at 15fps. When these videos are played back at 30fps, they become slow-motion or super-fast movies. The maximum recording time per clip is limited to 10 seconds in the HS video modes. Sound is not recorded and no form of VR is available. Given the high frame rates, these videos require fast shutter speeds, which effectively means that you need very bright conditions, especially when shooting at 120 frames per second. The P500’s ingenious movie mode switch around the Movie Record button has sadly been removed.

Recording movie clips is very easy on the Nikon P510 via the one-touch Movie Record button on the rear of the camera. By pressing this button, you can start recording a clip no matter what shooting mode you are in. You can use the optical zoom while filming, and full-time AF is also available. In use, we found that zooming in or out sometimes caused the image to go temporarily out of focus, but the AF system usually adjusted itself very quickly in these cases. The maximum clip length is limited to 29 minutes. The Creative Slider and Special Effects can also be used when shooting movies, and they can be played back on a HDTV via the built-in HDMI connector, although as usual there’s no suitable cable supplied in the box. The P510 supports the CEC feature for HDMI which enables playback control using your TV’s remote control.

Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon Coolpix P510
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s familiar Menu button accesses the usual Nikon menu system, which is clear and easy to navigate. Press this when in any of the shooting modes and there are three menus, Shooting, Movie, GPS and Setup, with two menus, Playback and Settings, available when you’re reviewing an image. A big oversight is the almost constant need to use the menu system for setting the ISO speed, white balance, metering, and AF mode, with at least 4 button presses required to change these often-used features. The P510 is sorely missing some kind of quick menu system, accessible via an external control, to help speed up its general operation.

In playback mode, pressing the same Menu button affords access to rudimentary image editing, including Nikon’s exposure adjusting D-Lighting function, Skin Softening and Filter Effects, image slide shows, and the automatic Quick Retouch. A button to the right features the familiar trashcan icon for deleting images on the fly and completes the rear of the P510.

On the right flank of the camera – still viewing it from the rear – there’s a metal eyelet for attaching the supplied shoulder strap and a plastic cover protecting the HDMI port and A/V out / USB port. On the left hand flank is another eyelet. There’s a centrally positioned, metal tripod mount on the bottom of the camera. The P510 is powered by a 1100 mAh lithium ion battery, good for around 240 shots, that slots into the base alongside the SD / SDHC / SDXC card slot. There is a small internal memory too, but it will only hold a few photos at full resolution, so you’ll definitely need a memory card. Note that recharging the P510 is a somewhat convoluted affair, with the battery remaining in camera and requiring the battery cover to be closed.

The performance of the Nikon P510 is mostly satisfactory. It starts up in under two seconds and zooms pretty quickly yet accurately for a power zoom. As noted earlier, its autofocus speed is not the greatest despite the inclusion of a subject tracking mode, but you’ll only notice that when trying to capture fast action. We found the high-speed continuous shooting mode brilliant but sadly limited by a small buffer. The only truly frustrating design flaw is the lack of direct access to ISO speed and white balance. We’d really like to see dedicated buttons for these functions, although the Function button goes some way to rectifying this. In Playback mode, the only notable quirk is the inability to magnify into the image from Histogram view – this is something that ought to be easy to address via a firmware upgrade, although that never happened for the P500.

That concludes our look at the Nikon Coolpix P510’s ease-of-use, now let’s move on to its image quality…

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s image quality is good for a compact camera with a small image sensor. The Nikon Coolpix P510’s dealt fairly well with noise, which becomes obvious at ISO 400 along with some colour loss. The noise, colour desaturation and loss of detail gets progressively worse as you go from ISO 400 to ISO 1600 and finally the unusable 3200 and 6400 settings. The Nikon Coolpix P510 handled chromatic aberrations excellently with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The 16 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and either require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you should increase the in-camera sharpening level.

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds, which is fairly good news for night photography enthusiasts. Macro performance is excellent, allowing you to focus as close as 1cm away from the subject. Vibration reduction is a compulsory feature on a camera like this and one that that works very well when hand-holding the P510 in low-light conditions or using the telephoto end of the amazing zoom range. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The backlighting feature increases detail in both the shadows and highlights, although at the expense of some additional noise and loss of fine detail, while the Picture Controls, Special Effects during shooting and Filter Effects during playback offer a lot of creative control over your images.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix P510 has 7 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 100 to ISO 6400 at full resolution.

ISO 100 (100% Crop) ISO 200 (100% Crop)
ISO 400 (100% Crop) ISO 800 (100% Crop)
ISO 1600 (100% Crop) ISO 3200 (100% Crop)
ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s 42x zoom lens provides an astonishing focal range of 24-1000mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

24mm 1000mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops – the right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images from the Nikon Coolpix P510 are slightly soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can alternatively change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop) Sharpened (100% Crop)

File Quality

At full resolution, there are three JPEG quality settings availableon the Nikon Coolpix P510 – Fine, Normal and Basic.

Fine (5.01Mb) (100% Crop) Normal (2.94Mb) (100% Crop)
Basic (1.72Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Given the range of the zoom lens, the Nikon Coolpix P510 shows remarkably little purple fringing, with limited effects in areas of high contrast as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop) Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix P510 allows you to get as close as 1cm to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash card.

Macro Shot 100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Nikon Coolpix P510 are Auto, Auto with Red-eye reduction, Fill Flash, Manual (Full, 1/2, 1/4 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64), Slow Sync, Rear-curtain Sync and Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m. Some vignetting and barrel distortion is apparent at the 24mm wide-angle setting, irrespective of whether you use the flash or not.

Flash Off – Wide Angle (24mm) Flash On – Wide Angle (24mm)
ISO 64 ISO 64
Flash Off – Telephoto (1000mm) Flash On – Telephoto (1000mm)
ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Fill Flash or the Auto with Red-eye reduction options caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On Flash On (100% Crop)
Red Eye Reduction Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds in the Manual mode, which is fairly good news if you’re seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 100.

Night Shot Night Shot (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction

The Nikon Coolpix P510 has a vibration reduction mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the lens set to the same focal length and ISO speed. The first shot was taken with vibration reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. As you can see, with vibration reduction turned on, the images are definitely sharper than with vibration reduction turned off. Here is a 100% crop of the images to show the results.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length Anti Shake Off (100% Crop) Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
1/20th sec / 24mm
1/15th sec / 1000mm

Backlighting

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s Baclighting mode captures three consecutive shots at varying exposures and combines them into a single photo with a broader range of tones. Three different HDR settings are available for selection.

Off HDR 1
HDR 2 HDR 3

Picture Controls

The Nikon Coolpix P510 has four different Picture Controls, which can be individually tweaked (sharpening, contrast and saturation) to suit your taste.

Standard Neutral
Vivid Monochrome

Special Effects

You can apply nine different special effects as you shoot with the Nikon Coolpix P510, with a live preview on the LCD screen showing exactly what the final image will look like.

Off Soft
Nostalgic Sepia High-contrast Monochrome
High Key Low Key
Selective Colour Painting
High ISO Monochrome Silhouette

Filter Effects

You can apply five different filter effects in-camera to photos that you have already taken with the Nikon Coolpix P510.

Selective Color Cross Screen
Fisheye Miniature Effect
Painting

Easy Panorama

The Nikon Coolpix P510’s Easy Panorama mode allows you to take vertical or horizontal panorama photos simply by moving the camera in the direction of the on-screen guides. Multiple shots are then combined into a single panorama photo. The angle of view can be selected from 180° (normal) and 360° (wide).

Easy Panorama – 180°
Full-size Image
Easy Panorama – 360°
Full-size Image

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix P510 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Image1/1600 sec
f/3.7 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.5 | 170mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/3.7 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.1 | 90mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/4.9 | 30mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/4.8 | 135mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5.1 | 200mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/4.7 | 24mm | ISO 110
Sample Image1/2000 sec
f/3.2 | 33mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/125 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/60 sec
f/4 | 85mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/40 sec
f/4.2 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/5.9 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/250 sec
f/5.3 | 120mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/5.3 | 24mm | ISO 200
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/5.3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5 | 85mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/2000 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/500 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/320 sec
f/4.2 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.9 | 435mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/4.4 | 75mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/80 sec
f/4.2 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.1 | 90mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.1 | 100mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.3 | 70mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.1 | 100mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/160 sec
f/4.8 | 325mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/640 sec
f/4.9 | 550mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/4.4 | 47mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/250 sec
f/7.6 | 28mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/500 sec
f/4.3 | 135mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/4.9 | 550mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/5.9 | 1000mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/500 sec
f/4.9 | 435mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 250
Sample Image1/200 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.4 | 155mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/250 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm
Sample Image1/125 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm | ISO 3200
Sample Image1/60 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm | ISO 1600
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/3.7 | 55mm | ISO 800
Sample Image1/30 sec
f/4.2 | 120mm | ISO 220
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.9 | 500mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/320 sec
f/5.5 | 900mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1000 sec
f/3.1 | 28mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/80 sec
f/3.6 | 50mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/400 sec
f/4.2 | 105mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1600 sec
f/3.4 | 43mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/800 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100
Sample Image1/1600 sec
f/3 | 24mm | ISO 100

Sample Movie

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920×1280 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 22 second movie is 51.9Mb in size.

View the sample movie.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera / Turned On
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera / Pop-up Flash
Nikon Coolpix P510
Isometric View
Nikon Coolpix P510
Isometric View
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Shooting Menu
Nikon Coolpix P510
Rear of the Camera / Function Menu
Nikon Coolpix P510
Fold-out LCD Screen
Nikon Coolpix P510
Fold-out LCD Screen
Nikon Coolpix P510
Fold-out LCD Screen
Nikon Coolpix P510
Top of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Bottom of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Side of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Side of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Front of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix P510
Memory Card Slot
Nikon Coolpix P510
Battery Compartment

Specifications

*The aperture value is f/8.3.**Based on CIPA Standards for measuring life of batteries.

***When recording a single movie.

Effective pixels 16.1 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS; approx. 16.79 million total pixels
Lens 42x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
Focal length 4.3-180mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 24-1000 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3-5.9
Construction 14 elements in 10 groups (4 ED lens elements)
Digital zoom Up to 2x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 2000 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction advanced lens-shift VR
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range (from lens) [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.5 m (5 ft) to infinity Macro close-up mode: Approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) (at a wide-angle zoom position beyond the triangle mark) to infinity
Focus-area selection Face priority, auto (9-area automatic selection), center, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking, target finding AF
Viewfinder Electronic viewfinder, 0.5-cm (0.2-in.) approx. 201k-dot equivalent LCD with the diopter adjustment function (-4 to +4 m-1)
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Monitor 7.5-cm (3-in.), approx. 921k-dot, wide viewing angle TFT LCD monitor with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment, tiltable approx. 82° downward, approx. 90° upward
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Media Internal memory (approx. 90 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, DPOF, and MPF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG 3D pictures: MPO Sound files (voice memo): WAV Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: AAC stereo)
Image size (pixels) 16 M 4608×3456 8 M 3264×2448 4 M 2272×1704 2 M 1600×1200 VGA 640×480 16:9 12M 4608×2592 16:9 2M 1920×1080 3:2 4608×3072 1:1 3456×3456
Shooting Modes Auto, Scene (Scene auto selector, Close-up, Portrait, Food, Sports, Museum, Night portrait, Fireworks show, Party/indoor, Black and white copy, Beach, Panorama, Snow, Pet portrait, Sunset, 3D photography, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Landscape, Backlighting), Special effects, P, S, A, M, User settings
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous H (Pictures are continuously shot at about 7 fps), Continuous L (Up to about 30 frames at about 1 fps), Pre-shooting cache (Up to 20 frames at up to 15 fps), Continuous H: 120 fps (60 frames at about 1/125 s or faster), Continuous H: 60 fps (60 frames at about 1/60 s or faster), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16, Intvl timer shooting
Movie HD 1080p(fine) (default setting): 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 1080p: 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 720p: 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps, iFrame 540: 960 x 540/approx. 30 fps, VGA: 640 x 480/approx. 30 fps, HS 120 fps: 640 x 480/approx. 120 fps, HS 60 fps: 1280 x 720/approx. 60 fps, HS 15 fps: 1920 x 1080/approx. 15 fps
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, Hi 1 (equivalent to 6400) Auto (auto gain from ISO 100 to 1600) Fixed range auto (ISO 100 to 400, 100 to 800) Hi 2 (equivalent to 12800) (High ISO monochrome in special effects mode)
Metering 224-segment matrix, center-weighted, spot
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure with flexible program, shutter priority auto, aperture-priority auto, manual, exposure bracketing, motion detection, exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
Speed Auto mode, scene mode, special effects mode 1/4000* to 1 s 1/4000* to 2 s (Tripod in Night landscape scene mode) 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode) P, S, A, and M modes 1/4000* to 8 s (when ISO sensitivity is set to 100 in M mode: including when set to Auto or Fixed range auto) 1/4000* to 4 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 100, 200, or 400 in P, S, or A mode, and when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 200 or 400 in M mode) 1/4000* to 2 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 800) 1/4000* to 1 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 1600, and when set to Auto or Fixed range auto in P, S, or A mode) 1/4000* to 1/2 s (when ISO sensitivity is fixed at 3200 or Hi 1) 1/4000 to 1/125 s (Continuous H: 120 fps) 1/4000 to 1/60 s (Continuous H: 60 fps)
Aperture Electronically-controlled 6-blade iris diaphragm
Range 10 steps of 1/3 EV (W) (A, M mode)
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5 to 8.0 m (1 ft 8 in. to 26 ft) [T]: 1.5 to 4.5 m (5 ft to 14 ft)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Data Transfer Protocol MTP, PTP
Video output Can be selected from NTSC and PAL
HDMI output Can be selected from Auto, 480p, 720p, and 1080i
I/O terminal Audio/video output; digital I/O (USB); HDMI Mini Connector (Type C) (HDMI output)
GPS Receiver frequency 1575.42 MHz (C/A code), geodetic system WGS 84
Supported languages Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power sources One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL5 (included) AC Adapter EH-62A (available separately)
Charging time Approx. 4 hours and 30 minutes (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-69P and when no charge remains)
Battery life (EN-EL5) Still pictures**: Approx. 240 shots Movies***: Approx. 1 h 10 min (HD 1080p(fine) (1920×1080))
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 119.8 x 82.9 x 102.2 mm (4.8 x 3.3 x 4.1 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 555 g (1 lb 3.6 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)
Humidity Less than 85% (no condensation)
Supplied accessories Camera Strap, Lens Cap LC-CP24 (with cord), Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL5 (with terminal cover), Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD
Optional accessories Battery Charger MH-61, AC Adapter EH-62A, H

Conclusion:

The Nikon Coolpix P510 ups the ante in the ultra-zoom camera stakes by offering an incredible telephoto zoom setting of 1000mm. Remarkably it’s still possible to hand-hold the camera in good light and achieve sharp pictures thanks to the excellent vibration reduction system, although you really need to use a tripod or other support for consistent results. The move to a 16 megapixel sensor hasn’t spoiled the image quality, but it hasn’t improved it either, being merely good, and the P510 still struggles to keep up with fast-moving subjects and lacks support for the raw file format.

The main attraction of the P510 is of course that 24-1000mm equivalent zoom lens, which covers the focal range of at least 4 SLR lenses, but there is a lot more to the Nikon P510 than just an insanely long zoom. It also offers SLR-like handling, manual exposure and focus, an eye-level viewfinder, an articulated and high-resolution LCD screen, built-in GPS and full HD movies with stereo sound, full-time AF and optical zoom as well. The P510 is a very well rounded package that is surprisingly compact and lightweight and which will more than satisfy the needs of many users.

In terms of handling, the P510 unfortunately suffers from some of the same issues as its predecessor. These include a lack of direct access to the ISO speed and white balance (although you can assign one of those to the new Function button), a missing second control wheel and the inability to attach an external flashgun. Generally speaking, however, the Nikon Coolpix 510 offers better handling and ease-of-use than the P500 and some of its competitors, with the inclusion of the side zoom control on the lens barrel a very welcome one, especially for videographers.

Image quality remains something of a mixed bag. It’s not bad for a compact camera, but the ambitious move to a 16 megapixel sensor, despite it still being a back-illuminated CMOS one, hasn’t done the P510 many favours. There is a little too much smearing of fine detail in the full-resolution images, even at the lower ISO speeds, with things starting to fall apart at ISO 400 and getting progressively worse as you go up the range. The P510’s overall image quality is pleasing enough in good light, but simply not as good as its rivals as you move up the ISO range.

Despite retaining similar flaws that also afflicted the P510’s predecessor – namely the so-so image quality, lack of RAW mode, slightly sluggish auto-focusing and some handling issues, this new ultra-zoom is still well worth a look if want the all-in-one convenience of a superzoom that can shoot everything from wide-angle landscapes to close-ups of birds and other small subjects. That 1000mm telephoto setting may sound a little ridiculous on paper, but in reality it is actually a usable setting in good lighting conditions. The Nikon Coolpix P510 may not produce the best photos at higher ISO speeds or focus quickly enough for fast-moving subjects, but it’s a lot more portable and convenient than an SLR with a bag full of lenses and also doubles up as an effective video camera thanks to its excellent movie mode, making it worthy of our Highly Recommended award.

4.5 stars

RATINGS (OUT OF 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4
Image Quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix P510.

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Review thumbnail

The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS super-zoom camera has a remarkable 35x lens with an incredibly versatile focal range of 24-840mm. The SX40 also offers a 12 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 2.7 inch vari-angle LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, full manual controls and full 1080p HD movies. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX40 HS review to discover if it’s the only camera you need.

Casio EX-FH25

Casio EX-FH25 Review thumbnail

The Casio EX-FH25 is a super-zoom camera with a difference – its high-speed capabilities mean that it can take 30 still photos every second and even shoot 1,000fps video footage. The 10 megapixel EX-FH25 has a 20x lens with a focal range of 26-520mm, large 3 inch LCD screen and a wealth of automatic shooting modes to make your life easier. Read our comprehensive Casio EX-FH25 review to find out if this is the right high-zoom camera for you…

Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR

Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR Review thumbnail

The Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR is a brand new bridge-style camera with a massive 30x zoom lens and a long list of stand-out features. The HS20EXR boasts a 24-720mm focal range, full 1080p movies with stereo sound, a 3 inch tilting LCD screen, 8fps burst shooting and a 16 megapixel back-illuminated EXR sensor with JPEG and RAW support. Is this the only camera you’ll ever need? Read our Fujifilm FinePix HS20 review to find out…

Kodak EasyShare Z990

Kodak EasyShare Z990 Review thumbnail

The Kodak Z990 is a new ultra-zoom digital camera sporting a 28-840mm, 30x optical lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and optical image stabilization. Other stand-out features of the Z990 include a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, ISO range of 125-6400, PASM shooting modes, RAW support, and a 3 inch LCD screen. Read the world’s first in-depth Kodak EasyShare Z990 Review.

Nikon Coolpix P500

Nikon Coolpix P500 Review thumbnail

The Coolpix P500 is Nikon’s new super-zoom compact camera for 2011, offering a massive 36x zoom lens with a focal range of 22.5-810mm. The 12 megapixel bridge-style Nikon P500 can capture full 1080p high-definition movies in stereo sound, has a back illuminated CMOS sensor, 3-inch 921K-dot tiltable LCD screen, electronic viewfinder and fast 8fps burst shooting. Priced at £399.99 / $399.99, read our Nikon Coolpix P500 review to find out if it can challenge the likes of the Fujifilm HS10, Canon SX30 IS and Panasonic DMC-FZ100.

Olympus SP-810UZ

Olympus SP-810UZ Review thumbnail

The Olympus SP-810UZ is a brand new bridge-style compact camera that boasts a 36x zoom lens with an incredible focal range of 24-864mm. The 14 megapixel Olympus SP-810UZ also offers a 3 inch, 16:9 ratio LCD screen, 720p movie recording and 3D shooting mode. Matt Grayson goes zoom-crazy in our in-depth Olympus SP-810UZ review.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review thumbnail

The super-zoom compact camera market is a hotly-contested one, with offerings from all the big manufacturers. Panasonic have updated their range for 2010 with the introduction of the DMC-FZ100, an all-singing, all-dancing successor to the popular FZ38 model. Key highlights include a 24x zoom, large free-angle LCD, full HD movies, 11fps burst shooting, fast RAW mode and a 14 megapixel sensor. Read the world’s first online Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Review to find out if it can beat its rivals.

Pentax Optio X90

Pentax Optio X90 Review thumbnail

The Pentax Optio X90 is a brand new super-zoom compact camera featuring a 26x image-stabilized zoom lens with a focal range of 26-676mm. Successor to the X70 model, the X90 has a 12 megapixel sensor, 2.7 inch screen, full range of creative shooting modes and can record 720p HD movies. Retailing for £329.99 / $399.95, does the Pentax Optio X90 offer enough to match its super-zoom rivals? Gavin Stoker finds out in our Pentax Optio X90 review.

Samsung WB5000

Samsung WB5000 Review thumbnail

The WB5000 / HZ25W is Samsung’s first entry into the big boy world of all-in-one super-zoom cameras. Offering a 24x zoom lens with 26mm wide-angle setting, the WB5000 literally has most photographic subjects covered, for both 12 megapixel stills and 720p movies. Throw in a range of hand-holding smart modes for beginners and RAW format and Manual mode for advanced users, and Samsung could be onto a winner at their very first attempt. Read our expert Samsung WB5000 / HZ25W review to find out if Panasonic, Olympus et al have anything to fear…

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 Review thumbnail

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 is a super-zoom camera with some rather unique features up its proverbial sleeve. These include a 20x zoom lens and 9 megapixel CMOS sensor, both of which utilise Sony’s DSLR technology, 3 inch tiltable LCD screen, and fast 10fps burst shooting mode. Going up against the likes of the Canon Powershot SX20 IS, Panasonic FZ38 and Olympus SP-590UZ, we find out if the £480 / $500 Sony HX1 hits the right spot…


Huawei officially launches Honor and updated Ideos X5 in India

Huawei officially launches Honor and updated Ideos X5 in India

Huawei officially launches Honor and updated Ideos X5 in India

Huawei has officially launched the Huawei Honor in India, along with an updated version of the Huawei Ideos X5, priced at Rs. 19,990 and Rs. 13,800 respectively. The devices both run on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, however, the Huawei Honor will get an upgrade to Android 4.0 ICS soon.

The Huawei Honor was first shown off back in September last year, boasting of a 1.4GHz single-core processor, a 4-inch FWVGA (480×854 pixel) 16M colour capacitive touchscreen, 512MB of RAM, and comes with a large 1,900 mAh battery expected to deliver 9 hours of talk time, and 10 hours of continuous video playback.

Other features of the Huawei Honor include an 8MP autofocus camera supporting HDR and 720p HD video recording, a 2MP front-facing camera, 4GB of built-in storage expandable up to 32GB via microSD, stereo FM radio with RDS, a document viewer, a photo editor, a gyroscope for gaming, a digital compass, GPS with A-GPS, a proximity sensor, Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP and EDR, and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with DLNA and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality.

The Huawei Honor weighs in at 140 grams, and is 10.9mm thick. It will ship with Data Traffic Manager app, to help users budget out their data consumption.

The refreshed Huawei Ideos X5 features a faster 1GHz processor, Adreno 205 GPU, 14.4Mbps HSDPA 3G connectivity, SRS WOW HD audio, 16GB of cloud storage, and stereo FM radio, apart from its earlier specifications – a 3.8-inch WVGA (800×480 pixel) capacitive touchscreen, 512MB of RAM, 2 or 4GB built-in storage expandable via microSD, and active noise cancellation with dedicated mic.

The Ideos X5 bears a 5MP rear camera with LED flash and 720p HD video recording support, and a 1,500 mAh battery that is rated to deliver 8.33 hours of talk time, and 380 hours of standby time. Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR and A2DP, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with hotspot, and GPS with A-GPS are some of the other connectivity options.

Huawei U8860 Honor :

Huawei U8860 Honor

Huawei U8860 Honor

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GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 900 / 1700 / 2100
HSDPA 850 / 1900 – for AT&T
Announced 2011, September
Status Available. Released 2011, December
BODY Dimensions 122 x 61 x 11 mm
Weight 140 g
– Touch-sensitive controls
DISPLAY Type TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 854 pixels, 4.0 inches (~245 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
SOUND Alert types Vibration, MP3 ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot microSD (TransFlash) up to 32GB
Internal 1 GB storage, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB ROM
DATA GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps
EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps
Speed HSDPA 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, HDR
Video Yes, 720p@30fps
Secondary Yes, VGA
FEATURES OS Android OS, v2.3 (Gingerbread), upgradable to v4.0
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8255T Snapdragon
CPU 1.4 GHz Scorpion
GPU Adreno 205
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM
Browser HTML, Adobe Flash
Radio FM radio
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
Colors Glossy Black, Textured Black, Elegant White, Vibrant Yellow, Cherry Blossom Pink, Burgundy
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– SNS integration
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail, Talk
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player
– MP4/H.263/H.264 player
– Organizer
– Document viewer
– Photo viewer/editor
– Voice memo/dial/commands
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Standard battery, Li-Ion 1930 mAh
Stand-by Up to 380 h
Talk time Up to 6 h 40 min
MISC SAR US 0.39 W/kg (head)     0.63 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 0.38 W/kg (head)     0.49 W/kg (body)
Price group 19,990
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: 770:1 (nominal)
Loudspeaker Voice 71dB / Noise 68dB / Ring 75dB
Camera Photo / Video

Huawei U8800 IDEOS X5:

Huawei U8800 IDEOS X5

Huawei U8800 IDEOS X5

GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 900 / 2100
Announced 2010, December
Status Available. Released 2011, April
BODY Dimensions 120 x 62 x 11.6 mm
Weight 130 g
– Touch-sensitive controls
DISPLAY Type TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 3.8 inches (~246 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Scratch-resistant glass, oleophobic coating
SOUND Alert types Vibration, MP3 ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
– Dolby Mobile sound enhancement
MEMORY Card slot microSD (TransFlash) up to 32GB
Internal 2/4 GB storage, 512 MB RAM
DATA GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps
EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps
Speed HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps (U8800H) / 7.2 Mbps (U8800); HSUPA, 5.76 / 2 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Features Geo-tagging
Video Yes, 720p@30fps
Secondary No
FEATURES OS Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo), upgradable to v2.3
Chipset Qualcomm MSM7230
CPU 800 MHz Scorpion
GPU Adreno 205
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM
Browser HTML, Adobe Flash
Radio No
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
Colors Black
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– SNS integration
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail, Talk
– MP3/WMA/WAV/eAAC+ player
– MP4/WMV/H.263/H.264 player
– Organizer
– Document viewer
– Photo viewer/editor
– Voice memo/dial
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Standard battery, Li-Po 1500 mAh
Stand-by Up to 380 h (2G) / Up to 440 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 8 h 20 min (2G) / Up to 6 h 40 min (3G)
MISC Price group Rs. 13500

Some important specs regarding Huwaei Ideos found on net:

According to recent reports, Huawei has announced it will be bringing the Ideos U8150 to India, its popular and inexpensive Android 2.2 Froyo smartphone. It will apparently launch sometime this month, and will cost less than Rs. 8,000, putting it in direct competition against the recently announced Micromax Andro as well as the Galaxy 5, with some distinct advantages.

The first of those is the Ideos’ Android 2.2 Froyo operating system, instead of 2.1 Eclair the Andro and Galaxy 5 possess. The next is a 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen compared to the Andro’s resistive touchscreen.

Huawei will supposedly also be bringing its recently released (in Australia), higher-endAndroid Froyo handsets into the Indian market by mid-January, called the Ideos X5 and X6.

Check out the known specifications of the three phones below:

Model
U8150
X5
X6
2G Network
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network
HSDPA 900 / 2100
HSDPA
HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100
HSDPA 1700 / 2100
HSDPA 900 / 1900 / 2100
Dimensions
104.1 x 55.9 x 12.7 mm
122 x 66 x 10 mm
Weight
102.1 g
143 g
Display
2.8-inch (240×320) capacitive touchscreen, 256k colours
3.8 inches capacitive, 16 million colours
4.1-inches (480×800) capacitive touchscreen, 16 million colours
Camera
3.15 MP, 2048×1536 pixels, geo-tagging, video recording CIF
5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, 720p video recording
5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, 720p video recording
OS
Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo)
Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo)
Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo)
CPU
Qualcomm MSM 7225 528 MHz processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8255 1 GHz processor
Memory
256 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
512 MB RAM, 2 GB ROM
Storage
microSD expandability, up to 32GB
microSD expandability, up to 32GB
GPRS
Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps
EDGE
Class 10, 236.8 kbps
3G
HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps
HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
Connectivity

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v2.0 w/A2DP, microUSB v2.0

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v2.1 w/A2DP, microUSB v2.0

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v2.1 w/A2DP, microUSB v2.0

Audio support
3.5 mm audio jack, MP3/WMA/eAAC+ formats, FM radio
3.5 mm audio jack, MP3/WMA/eAAC+ formats, FM radio,
3.5 mm audio jack, MP3/WMA/eAAC+ formats, FM radio,
Video support
MP4/H.263/H.264 formats
MP4/WMV/H.263/H.264 formats, HDMI out
MP4/WMV/H.263/H.264/DivX formats, HDMI out
Colours
Black body / blue, red, yellow backpanels
Black
Black
Battery
Standard battery, Li-Ion 1200 mAh
Standard battery, Li-Ion 1400 mAh
Stand-by
Up to 288 h
Talk time
Up to 9 h

 

For Huwaei Support or more help:

Contact: Huawei Telecommunication India Ltd
Phone: 1800-209-6555      
Email: service.hw.in@huawei.com

Understanding Ultrabooks

In fact, Intel expects ultrabooks to occupy around 40% of the total laptops launched in 2012. We conversed with Karen Regis, Intel’s Director of Ultrabook Marketing Strategy, to get insights about the big picture.

Following excerpts from our interview:

1) Laptops vs netbooks vs ultrabooks — what’s the difference between them?

There are many types of mobile devices for consumers these days, and it’s important for buyers to understand the differences between them to make sure they choose the right device for their needs. Netbooks are great for content consumption and light productivity and offer the most affordable price points. Ultrabooks are for users looking for a full PC experience in an ultra sleek, ultra stylish design. They have the horsepower for just about any productivity task, but also provide great battery life, the ability to wake up in a flash and built-in security – all at mainstream system price points.

2) In many ways, the netbook segment was a much bigger breakthrough (from a technical perspective) than all the hype surrounding ultrabooks, which is just natural evolution of laptops. Would you agree that the term ultrabook is a marketing gimmick?

Intel expects Ultrabook devices to be as transformational to mobile computing as Intel Centrino Mobile technology was more than eight years ago. Remember, Intel’s vision for the Ultrabook entails a multi-year, industry-wide endeavor that will roll out in phases with new experiences and features added over time. It’s about driving innovation and integrating capabilities that users want and may not even know yet that they need – much like Centrino helped make Wi-Fi a must-have in laptops. Some of the nearer term innovations we expect to see include hybrid devices (both tablet and laptop functionality) as well as technologies like touch and sensors. Intel is committed to the Ultrabook category, and we’re seeing very strong support from our partners as well.

3) This is the first time since 2003 and Centrino chips that Intel is promoting a product such aggressively in the market. Why are ultrabooks so important? How do they feature in Intel’s roadmap?

Yes, on April 4, we announced our new Ultrabook marketing campaign, Intel’s largest in nearly a decade. The global campaign theme is how Intel-inspired Ultrabooks are ushering in “a new era of computing” – making everything else seem like ancient history/old fashioned compared to an Ultrabook.

The creation of the Ultrabook category was shaped by extensive user research and reflects what users value most in a mobile device – a no-compromise, most complete, satisfying and more secure computing experience. We are very excited about this category and are looking ahead to our Ivy Bridge and Haswell platforms to continue to evolve and bring new capabilities to Ultrabook devices in the next several years.

4) How do you respond to the criticism that the ultrabook is a desperate attempt to rekindle excitement among laptops, more importantly among consumers more keen on buying a tablet?

Worldwide PC unit shipments continue to grow at double-digit rates. This is one of the reasons for Intel’s recent record revenues and earnings. We believe that PCs will continue to play a key role in people’s personal computing needs.

At the same time, people have rapidly evolving requirements for personal computing in terms of responsiveness, capabilities, increased security and mobility. Intel aims to help drive these changes. Whether it’s a tablet, PC, Ultrabook or hybrids we aim to deliver great experiences that satisfy people’s needs, no matter what the device.

5) Is an ultrabook a poor man’s MacBook Air?

Intel’s vision for Ultrabook devices entails a multi-year, industry-wide endeavor that will roll out in phases where new experiences and features will be added over time. Intel aims with the Ultrabook category to deliver new experiences that people want and will love. Devices coming in the future will blend the best of the laptop experience with aspects of other consumer electronic devices.

7) We’ve tested majority of the ultrabooks so far and they all offer close to 5 hours of battery life on a single charge. How has Intel managed to do this — make thin ultrabooks last longer than fatter laptops with bigger and better batteries?

Great battery life is one of the requirements to be called an Ultrabook. Ultrabook devices offer at least 5 hours of battery life with many providing 8 hours or more, even in the sleekest form factors. In general, we expect to see greater use of Lithium polymer batteries (such as are used in phones) in Ultrabook devices. Intel is focused on driving innovations in battery design and technology in the industry to continually improve the user experience in terms of ever better battery life in ever more attractive designs. This is one of the focus areas of the Ultrabook Fund (read more here).

8) Regarding OEMs and various partners, is Intel laying down minimum specifications for ultrabooks to ensure a standard benchmark for end user experience?

Intel works closely with its industry partners to ensure that Ultrabook devices consistently deliver a compelling and unique value proposition to customers. In order for a system to be classified as an Ultrabook and use the Ultrabook trademark, a certain set of guidelines must be followed. The guidelines may evolve over time as new capabilities come to market. A verification process is in place to help ensure the consistent and outstanding experience we aim to deliver.

9) What are some of the main challenges that may hinder ultrabooks from completely dominating the personal computing market?

We’re thrilled with the reception to Ultrabook devices so far. There’s already been a lot of enthusiasm around the category. We believe there will continue to be a spectrum of types of products with different capabilities and features that meet consumers’ varying needs. There will always be users, though, who are looking for companion devices, like a netbook, to complement their Ultrabook or laptop. There are also those who value certain features more. For example, a gamer may want a desktop system with maximum performance. Or a road warrior may value weight and size as the top feature. We value choice and a spectrum of options for all types of users.

10) This year marks Intel’s first steps into the tablet and smartphone market with Medfield chips. How important is this market to Intel and how does it affect sales of ultrabooks?

I’m not the right person to comment on Medfield, but what I can tell you is that whether it’s a tablet, PC, phone or Ultrabook Intel aims to deliver great experiences that satisfy people’s needs, no matter what the device.

12) How committed is Intel to the future of ultrabooks beyond the upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture?

Intel’s vision for Ultrabook devices entails a multi-year, industry-wide endeavor that will roll out in phases where new experiences and features will be added over time:

A) Intel’s latest Ultra-Low Voltage 2nd generation Intel Core processors started the transition to Ultrabook systems by enabling a new class of thin, light, beautiful designs with mainstream price points. Many systems are available today.

B) 3rd generation Intel Core processors (codenamed “Ivy Bridge”), Intel’s next generation chip, is scheduled for availability very soon. Ultrabook systems based on this new family of processors will bring improved power efficiency, smart visual performance, increased responsiveness and enhanced security. Complimentary USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt technologies are also part of Intel’s ongoing work to drive the PC platform forward.

C) “Haswell” is the third step toward accelerating the category of Ultrabook devices. With “Haswell,” Intel will change the mainstream laptop thermal design point by reducing microprocessor power to 10-20 watts – half of today’s design point.

All answers attributed to Karen Regis, Intel’s Director of Ultrabook Marketing Strategy.

Thanks to : Thinkdigit

Android Phone Vs Windows Phone Vs i-Phone

Android Phone Vs Windows Phone Vs i-Phone

 

Smooth Experience And Fresh Design
Windows Phone comes with a design that has been made from scratch, called the Metro UI. This fresh new interface consists of tiles, rather than the icon-based design that has been, dare we may say, copied by everyone from the iPhone. The tiles are “live”, meaning that they actually show the updated status of the applications they are meant for. The animation effects are also different, and the overall user experience is very smooth. Part of the reason for this is that Microsoft has put stringent hardware requirements for devices to qualify for this platform, which effectively protects against fragmentation that has been experienced by other mobile platforms such as Android.

Deep Social Networking Integration And Web Browsing
TechTree Blog: 5 Reasons Why Windows Phone Will SucceedOne of the first things that you will notice when you start using a WP smartphone is the amount of social network integration that has been built into this platform. You can log into FacebookTwitterWindows LiveLinkedIn, and a host of other social networks and get instant status updates on the home screen through the People tile. The phone’s contact list automatically gets populated with your friends’ details, from the networks you have signed into. In addition to the above, users can also sign into email services of their choice and contacts saved over there are also downloaded automatically to the device, while a live tile for the mail service is made available on the home screen for quick and easy access. Last but not the least, we have to mention that WP devices provide one of the fastest and smoothest internet browsing experience in the current crop of mobile phones, and the credit for this goes to its Internet Explorer browser that uses the same core and rendering engine as IE9 for desktop.

An Increasingly Attractive Application Store
TechTree Blog: 5 Reasons Why Windows Phone Will SucceedSmartphones these days are not just about making phone calls, as more and more users want to use applications for different tasks and the success of a platform depends on its app ecosystem. WP has its own Marketplace application store that distributes free and paid apps. The number of apps is nowhere near that of competing stores, but it is definitely increasing, with the current number now standing at over 80,000. The quality of apps is generally good and Microsoft exercises a strict policy of not allowing “socially unacceptable” programs, possibly with the aim to protect young users against the “evils of the online world”. One of the good things about this app store is that even if it is a paid app, you can still download and try it out before deciding if you would want to buy.

Microsoft Applications Integration
TechTree Blog: 5 Reasons Why Windows Phone Will SucceedWP devices come with integrated Microsoft applications. The Xbox Live tile grants users access to some Xbox 360 features via the “Games hub”. Users can log into the phone using the same credentials as that for the console and purchase games, set their avatar in a 3D fashion, and also play several multiplayer games right from their handset, even as they are on the move. WP phones also come with free Microsoft Office Mobile to let you open, create, or edit MS Office documents including WordExcelPowerPoint,OneNote, and SharePoint. Files can be saved either locally or to SkyDrive and Office 365so that they can be accessed later through cloud servers.

Timely Updates For OS And Apps
TechTree Blog: 5 Reasons Why Windows Phone Will SucceedMicrosoft seems to have taken cue from the negative feedback for its previous mobile OS and made sure that WP devices receive timely updates for the OS as well as for the apps thus far. Updating has been made very easy with the possibility of downloading and installing OTA (over the air) or by connecting the phone to a computer. Similar to the updates for its desktop OS, these WP updates iron out bugs and plug holes in an effort to deliver a better user experience.

Windows Phone smartphones are still awaiting widespread adoption, but we think that its popularity will increase if Microsoft continues to make sure that it does not waver from the above advantages that are currently offered by this platform.

There are certain perks to working as a tech journalist: coffee is free and plentiful, trade shows are equal parts fun and frantic, and most of all, we get the chance to play with lots and lots of new toys. I’ve personally had the luck to be able to swap handsets pretty much bi-weekly for the last couple of months, and find it kind of a bummer that Windows Phone 7 hasn’t really been embraced as the solid mobile platform that it is (I said it’s a bummer, I didn’t say we didn’t see it coming).

Regardless of the numbers, WP7 is one of our favorite mobile platforms, outshining Android in almost every aspect. Don’t believe me? Well, allow me to try and change your mind.

Streamlined User Interface

Android’s are different depending on the SKU of the handset. In other words, the UI you’ll be dealing with when using, say, a Motorola handset, will be radically different than one from Samsung or HTC. The ambiguity can be disconcerting. With WP7, you know what kind of interface you’re going to be working with, regardless of the handset manufacturer. We’d imagine that an un-tweaked user interface would also make lives easier for developers, as well. We love some Android user interfaces, but loathe others. With WP7, at least you know what user interface to expect, regardless of the handset maker. Speaking of which…

WP7 Has An Easier-To-Use Interface

It really does. And look, we get it. An Android is a power user’s phone, and we know that if you’re really looking for power-use, you’ve got to be willing to learn some things. But we’re the geeky minority here, and you’ve got to keep in mind that most people are looking for a phone that makes it easiest to do their day-to-day tasks. Keeping that in mind, WP7’s “tile” system is simply easier to organize and find the things you need to throughout the day. It looks cooler too; way cooler, actually.

WP7 Has Apps That Aren’t Crap

Open-source is good, and it’s a compelling reason to support Android as a mobile platform, but let’s face it: You’ve got to sift through some real $#@t in the Android Marketplace to find apps that are worth downloading, much less buying. Most people fail to realize that the Windows Mobile SDK has been around for quite some time now, and it shows in the Marketplace, especially on the gaming side of the spectrum. Many of the games we played featured awesome 3D graphics and a level of polish simply not(yet)-to-be-found in the Android hemisphere. Microsoft has a far stricter criteria set than Google about which apps and games can populate their respective marketplace. Oh, and now that we’re on the topic of gaming…

Microsoft LIVE Integration Is Bad Ass

If you’re achievement junkies like we are (you know who you are), then a WP7 handset is a must-have. Have a game on Xbox or PC that you love playing? Pop over to the Windows app store; chances are there’s a mobile version of that same game, where you can continue earning points and unlocking achievements with your handset. You can also keep tabs on your buddies’ achievements, and tweak and enhance your Xbox Live avatar. Granted, this integration is still in an infancy stage, but we’d be willing to bet that we’ll be seeing deeper and more intuitive connections between gaming and phones in the near-future. Forward progress is good progress.

Microsoft Mobile Office Integration

We were actually blown away by how deep this rabbit-hole goes. Microsoft Word Mobile Edition, by way of an example, is actually a very intuitive little program, allowing you remote access documents using SharePoint Server 2010, you can use the “find” tool to look for particular words or phrases, and you can even email documents directly from the program.

We’ve had the pleasure of testing some Android phones that can dock with workstations to function as a laptop; imagine how crazy it would be if Windows launched a similar product with a full-fledged Office Suite. That’d be one step closer to a true fusion between phones and computers, and we’re all for that.

Microsoft Isn’t Constantly Getting Sued by Apple

Whether targeting HTC a year ago or Motorola last fall or even Samsung (which is remarkable seeing how they are a flat out key supplier of Apple’s hardware components) just a few days ago, Apple has been regularly suing the hell out of Android handset makers; mostly in regards to hardware and software patents. So why is Apple seemingly ignoring WP7 in the courts? Well, there could be numerous reasons: Optimistically, it could be because the software and hardware developments on WP7 are truly original and innovative, meaning Apple can’t accuse Microsoft of lifting their ideas. A more realistic reasoning? Apple doesn’t see WP7 as that big of a threat…yet.

Stability

This is speaking from personal experience with various handsets across both platforms, but to put it simply, WP7 has just been a more stable experience. Apps like Facebook and Netflix simply run the way they were meant to with far less of the hiccups and crashes found on the Android platform. This runs parallel with the overall theme behind WP7 mobile devices: Simplicity. Granted, WP7 had to forgo some of the more complex actions Androids are capable of (i.e. lack of tethering support, lack of ability to capture screenshots, no multi-tasking), but to us, that’s a worthy trade for a phone that will do what you want it do, every step of the way.

Zune is a Native Client, and it’s Not Pay-Per-Song

We like Zune as a service—you pay a monthly fee and can download as many songs as you want, as opposed to being pigeonholed into paying per song, like with Apple and Android. Also, we really enjoy the fact that Zune is a native client that comes fresh out-the-box with WP7—setting up music services on an Android involves downloading various apps (like Google Music, which then has to synch to your Google Wallet, which then has to synch to your Google Music Server, which then needs a Gauntlet from Moredore to unlock your songs, which then needs…well, you get the point) that is just sort of a hassle, and glitchy to boot. Again, simplicity reigns supreme.

Snappier Keyboard

All right, we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty, and this is a minor nit to pick, but for the most part (with the exception of the Android Sprint Galaxy, which actually featured a physical slide-out QWERTY keyboard), Windows Phone 7 had a snappier, and more importantly, a more consistent keyboard that was snappy and accurate, regardless of the device. And, though Droid offered a few keyboard-contenders with the Galaxy S2 and the Incredible, others were really bad, (ahem, Droid X2, cough).

No Ad-Ware!

That’s right, there is nary a pop up ad to be found, whether you’re in the Windows Marketplace, or playing a game. There is nothing more irritating when using an Android that having to manually close pop-up adds, many of which appear mid game. There are, indeed, advantages to more stringent app restrictions, and WP7 seems to have found a perfect balance.

The Brief Verdict:

So to get you started, here’s a quick primer on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone (sorry, no BlackBerry considered in the race), and a smattering of the most common questions about smartphone OSes I’ve received from you.

iPhone 4S in a nutshell

  • Runs Apple’s iOS 5 operating system
  • Available on three carriers: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
  • Available on three storage sizes: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
  • Easiest compatibility with iTunes, Apple ecosystem, and products
  • Form factor: One 3.5-inch screen (on the smaller size by today’s standards)
  • Interface: Approachable, but not very customizable. Some hidden features
  • Key features: Excellent 8-megapixel camera, front-facing camera, colorful Siri voice assistant
  • Next big release: iPhone 5, release date unknown, but speculated for summer 2012

Android in a nutshell

  • Google’s mobile operating system
  • Form factor: Available on all carriers, all shapes, all sizes
  • All capabilities: Range from budget to super premium
  • Not all Android phones are created equal in capability: some have excellent cameras, screens, etc. Some don’t.
  • Easiest compatibility with Google services, Google Music, other Android devices
  • Interface: Varies by manufacturers, has a small learning curve for some features
  • Key features: Free voice navigation with turn-by-turn directions, very customizable, voice actions
  • Next big phone release: Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone, Verizon release date unknown, but probably December
  • Next big operating system release: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Released with Galaxy Nexus, coming to existing handsets starting “early 2012”

Windows Phone in a nutshell

  • Microsoft’s mobile operating system
  • Form factor: Available on all carriers, all shapes, all sizes.
  • AT&T has the largest and best selection
  • All capabilities: Mostly midrange, solid performers. Minimum 5-megapixel camera
  • Easiest compatibility with Zune, Xbox Live, Microsoft services like Microsoft Office, SkyDrive online storage
  • Interface: Very straightforward, but some hidden capabilities
  • Key features: Clean interface, built-in barcode-scanning and music identification, Xbox Live integration, voice actions
  • Next big phone release: Nokia Lumia 800 or similar for U.S. markets, probably January
  • Next big operating system release: Unknown. Version 7.5 Mango released in September

Android FAQ

Question:Why there is delay on update for Android devices, and will Ice Cream Sandwich bring the solution for this problem?
With Android phones, we’re at the mercy of manufacturers and carriers who need to test the new OS with the additional skins, overlays, or additional software these phones might have. My colleague Bonnie Cha wrote a great story explaining how OS updates work. So the answer is no, Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) won’t fix this. However, back in May, Google and several key manufacturing partners agreed to work together to bring phones released within 18 months of a new OS updated to the latest OS version. Unfortunately, neither Google nor other manufacturers have been forthcoming with how this is playing out in practice. For now, the surest bet to get the latest Android OS is to get the Galaxy Nexus or Samsung Nexus S phone (available for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint).

Q: I am looking forward to buying the Galaxy Nexus. However, which phone would you select between it, the Motorola Droid Razr, and the HTC Rezound?
If it’s specs you’re wondering about, check out my former colleague Nicole Lee’s helpful chart comparing the three. If it’s the overall look and feel, well, that’s just a question I can’t answer for you. What do you value most: the camera, the speed, the price, the way it feels in your hand? They’re all fast, they’re all premium, and they all run on Verizon’s phenomenal 4G LTE network.

The Droid Razr and Galaxy Nexus are thin, but the Galaxy Nexus and Rezound have better screens. The Galaxy Nexus has a 5-megapixel camera, but the Droid Razr’s isn’t my absolute favorite on the market, either. The Droid Razr is more stylish. The Rezound comes with Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and a music algorithm, but the Galaxy Nexus is the first to have the powerful Ice Cream Sandwich OS (the other two will get it as well, but you’ll have to wait until early 2012.) Yet, the Galaxy Nexus isn’t even available yet, while the other two are. I recommend getting yourself to a Verizon store and getting your hands on the other two devices to see how much you connect with them, then go from there.

iPhone FAQ

Q: With the iPhone 4S out, would it be better to wait for the iPhone 5? My 2-year contract renewal is up in 2012. I am hearing possibly summer 2012 for iPhone 5.
If you’re still riding out a contract, keep waiting. The iPhone 4S is a great device, but it’s not worth breaking a contract for or buying fresh unless you need Siri or a better camera.

Windows Phone FAQ

Q: Which is easier to use: Windows Phone, iOS 5, or Android 4.0?
Windows Phone has the cleanest OS of the three and is the easiest for getting in and out, at least as far as the main screens go. With only two home screens to toggle between, it’s hard to get lost. However, the edgy “metro” look may not be for everyone, and the apps look completely different. There are also a few tricks you need to know about to fully use the OS, like pressing and holding on “live tiles” to pin, unpin, and get more options, and using your finger to pull down the signal strength meter and battery meter while you’re on the Start screen (these otherwise disappear from view.) There are other tricks, too–tools in Bing you may not think to look for, and actions when you press and hold the Home and Back buttons.

The iPhone and Android have their own quirks as well, and I don’t consider the other two particularly hard to learn, though with its large icons and limit to two screens, it’s easier to navigate Windows Phone.

Do you know if WP7.5 is limited to single-core processors and how that would impact the performance of the devices?
Right now all Windows phones are single-core, and I can’t complain about performance issues. With the way that the OS handles tasks and task-switching, dual-core processing may not be strictly necessary. That said, as all phones join the processor race, I’m sure we’ll eventually see dual-core Windows Phones with much larger screens and many more features advanced as well.

Q: Do you think Windows will have the kind of app choice that iOS or Android do? I have not heard much about what Microsoft is doing to bring in developers or how they will play the app market.
Windows Phone is really ramping up its app presence. In a few months’ time, the population of the app Marketplace has shot from 18,000 to 40,000, and is growing. While they need to keep wooing developers to create interesting apps, there’s also the danger of choking on too much unnecessary app sludge, an argument one could levy against iOS (500+K apps) and even Android (300K).

Battery life

With battery life being one of the biggest issues, does any one of the operating systems seem to handle that better than the others? If so, which and why?
How a phone’s operating system handles resources is part of the equation, but not as key a factor in our opinion as the hardware and the capacity of the battery. If it seems that Android phones experience faster battery draining than the iPhone, that’s likely because there’s so much variance among different hardware specs and manufacturers. To be fair, the recently launched iPhone 4S has purportedly shorter battery life than several Android phones as well. There are also some Android phones with better battery life than others.

The real question is when we can stop wondering if our smartphones will last longer than a day before needing a recharge. Here’s some good news we still have to wait to see: researchers are redesigning the lithium ion battery to charge faster and hold charges longer, up to three days. I, for one, am relieved to know that smart chemists are hard at work, and that a fix is coming.

Sony Xperia S : Review

Sony Xperia S : Review

Review in short:

As tech consumers, we’ve currently got a rather odd ‘problem’: there’s just too much good stuff out there. Nowhere is that more true than with phones; the adoption of Android, fast processors and uniformly smart looks means it’s hard for anything to stand out.
Take this phone, for instance. The Sony Xperia S is very fast, slick, has a large screen without feeling too big and does just about everything you need from a modern smartphone. It’s in the top tier, yet it’s weirdly hard to get excited about because there are so many other good phones either already available or imminent, including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the LG Optimus 4X HD. Does it really have enough to make it into our list of the best smartphonesaround?

Sony Xperia S: Screen

First up, the 4.3-inch screen with Bravia tech – this phone is festooned with big hitting Sony tech sub-brands, by the way. It’s extremely vivid and bright, whether you’re looking at video, photos or surfing the web.

Some of you may prefer the more naturalistic look of, for instance, the Apple iPhone 4S‘s screen, but for anyone hooked on OLED displays, this is the nearest LCD has got to that kind of vibrant, luminescent psychedelia.

Sony Xperia S: Camera

As a result, on the screen, two- to 12-meg photos and 1080p movies shot on the Xperia S’ camera have a slightly hyper-real quality. Whip them off on to a TV or computer screen and they look more conventional, but still of very high quality for a phone, being detailed, bright even in low-ish light, and with decent sharpness.

The camera also has a dedicated button and is ready to shoot in pretty short order. All told, it’s better than the Samsung Galaxy S2 and up there with the iPhone 4S.

Arguably the iPhone’s photos across a range of different shooting conditions are of slightly higher quality, but the Xperia S has a number of extra, useful features, such as a timer, and less useful but fun stuff such as 3D panoramas. And it has more megapixels in it, which is, of course, essential.

Sony Xperia S: Build

Design is one of the areas where the Sony Xperia S falls down. The Android buttons are unresponsive and hard to find, the feel is solid rather than inspiring, and the one little flourish – a see-through, light-up strip below the buttons – is just naff, really.

Sony Xperia S: Features

One day, the built-in NFC capability will turn the S into a travel pass and debit card. Right now, you can exchange documents with it and scan tags. So tap it on the “bedroom” tag and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the ringtones turn off, while the alarm app turns on. For some reason, tapping again in the morning doesn’t have the reverse effect. Tags are user-programmable, though.

Sony Xperia S: Music, movies, game

Phones are now essentially platforms rather than standalone gadgets, and the Xperia S delivers as a source of games, movies and music.

Google Play (formerly Market) is second only to the App Store as a retailer of software nuggets, and having cut loose from Ericsson, Sony is also unleashing its full arsenal of entertainment options, with PlayStation certification, Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited.
Music Unlimited is a subscription-based Spotify clone. Video Unlimited is not aNetflix-style subscription service but actually an iTunes-style buy/rent one. Presumably “Video Unlimited as long as you keep bunging us 2 or 3 quid a time to watch said Video” was deemed to have not quite the same ring to it.

As you’d hope from the Walkman men, Sony’s music app is great. Cover Flow-style album art means it looks good (nobody actually browses their music like that though, do they?) and the audio is a bit like the screen in that it is very punchy, loud and vibrant rather than necessarily “accurate” – no bad thing, in this case.

The video and music options both offer a decent selection and pricing on a par with their rivals. We’d still use Lovefilm, Netflix, Spotify and Amazon’s MP3 Store before either, mind.

The PlayStation “certification” and associated app are what should really make Sony phones stand out, but the whole thing remains pretty half-baked. Are people really gagging to play the crusty likes of Crash Bandicoot on their phones?

There’s promise here, but not much delivery as yet. However, things can only get better, and there are plenty of non-Sony titles at Google Play (the app store formerly known as Android Market), with the 1.5GHz dualcore and 1GB RAM well up for ’em.

Sony Xperia S: Performance

We’re a little disappointed that the OS on board is ropey old Gingerbread rather than thrusting, virile Ice Cream Sandwich – an upgrade is promised “in Q1”, so presumably within the month; makes you wonder why Sony didn’t just wait a few weeks to release this.

However, Gingerbread runs with no lag, offering a level of slickness comparable to the more expensive iPhone and as good or better than any Android phone currently on the market.

We also had a few issues with Mac compatibility: we could barely get any music on to it from an iMac running Snow Leopard via Sony’s hapless Bridge for Mac software.

Sony Xperia S: Battery

Battery life is fine. Despite the use of a sealed rather than removable battery you’ll need to charge once a day, but that’s par for the course. The storage is also ‘sealed’, in the sense that there’s 32GB built in but no microSD – come on, 32GB is plenty.

Sony Xperia S: Verdict

The above niggles aside, there’s nothing very wrong with the Sony Xperia S and a lot that’s very right. All told, it’s probably the best Android handset you can get right now, unless you insist on Ice Cream Sandwich and a massive screen, in which case the Samsung Galaxy Nexus trumps it.

We’d still choose the iPhone over it most days, but the gap between Apple’s phones and cheaper Android alternatives such as this is being sandpapered down to wafer thinness.

The headline news from Sony’s star-studded press event as CES 2012 was the arrival of the first smartphone since the company bought out Ericsson’s half of the partnership.

The Sony Xperia S and Sony Xperia ION are the first devices of the new Sony Mobile Communications era, but the one we’re concerned with its the Xperia S which will be coming to the UK in March this year, with Three Mobile the first network to sign up. We were able to get some hands-on time at a packed Sony stand. Some of the pictures in our gallery will still show the Sony Ericsson branding.

Sony Xperia S: Build

The first really noticeable change is the new Sony branding at the top of the device. There’s something about that Sony font which instantly makes a device look a little more premium and this is the case with the Xperia S.

The Xperia S is a good looking phone, on its own merits. we were able to play with the white edition, which is definitely the more attractive than the black iteration of the device and its matte finish will stay nicely free of fingerprints. We really loved the see-through strip at the bottom of the device, which also houses the home, menu and back soft-keys and the phone’s antenna system. It’s a really nice design touch and sets it aside from rivals.

When we picked up the device, it wasn’t overly comfortable. The curved back on the Xperia line does fit nicely in the palm, but the very defined square edges offset that somewhat when gripping the device. Overall, it felt a little awkward. There’s also a physical camera button, volume keys and a HDMI port tucked behind a dedicated flap.

Sony Xperia S: Features

The new Sony handset will not arrive with Android Ice Cream Sandwich on board, but Sony says there’ll be an upgrade in the near future. Instead early adopters will be greeted with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. As with other phones in the Xperia range, like the Sony Xperia Arc, the UI is very Android centric. There’s no skin like on HTC and Samsung Android phones and Sony Ericsson has long ditched the Timescape UI, which was a good idea in theory but didn’t really work in practice.

Sony Ericsson cameras have always been an area of the phone’s that we can be positive about and the Sony Xperia S is no different, bringing a 12-megapixel offering which also offers some neat shot-to-shot technology which almost eliminates the shutter-lag between taking pictures. In terms of video, the device will shoot 1080p, a la the iPhone 4S. There’s also an Exmor sensor on-board. Very fancy.

There’s also a boon for gamers as the device is PlayStation certified, meaning you’ll be able to access the library of old PlayStation titles just like Xperia Play owners. It’ll also focus its attentions on the Sony Entertainment Network with apps like Music Unlimited and Movies Unlimited. It’ll also be able to throw content to your TV set in the same way AirPlay does on iOS devices.

Sony Xperia S: Screen

Continuing the trend of whopping Android screens, the Xperia S has a 4.3-inch, 1280×720 resolution screen that brings the Sony Bravia Mobile engine into play. Screen detail is fantastic, colours are engaging and well represented, but the display is by no means as encapsulating as the Samsung Galaxy S2‘s Super AMOLED offering or the Apple iPhone 4S‘s Retina Display.

Sony Xperia S: Performance

With a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260 processor and the now-standard 1GB of RAM on-board the device is rather nippy and during our brief test performed really well. Whizzing around the Android operating system was a breeze, while video rendered very quickly and web-pages loaded at a better-than-expected-for-a-showroom-floor speed. More testing is needed in this area to give a definitive verdict.

Sony Xperia S: Verdict

Sony believes this new era can resurrect its ailing smartphone brand and the Xperia S appears to be a good start. With Sony going it alone in the smartphone world we’d expect more distinct designs from the company in the near future. However, it’s clear that this device was still designed while the Ericsson partnership remained intact. Some of the phones on display here, as you can see from our photos, still boasted the Sony Ericsson branding.

The Xperia S, on its own merits, is a feature packed phone which continues the company’s recent run of excellent Android devices. The camera is one of the best-specced we’ve ever seen on an Android device, while it’s also got plenty in the engine room to keep things ticking over. We enjoyed the lack of an over-bearing UI and for the most part we impressed by the design. The grip isn’t particularly natural however.

Sony Xperia S review

GOOD

  • Powerful and fast
  • Good stills and full-HD video
  • Decent media/app hubs

BAD

  • Mediocre design
  • PlayStation bits disappoint
  • No Ice Cream Sandwich

Full Reviews:

Sony’s split with Ericsson is as much a cultural break as a corporate one, and the Xperia S on the surface reflects that. It’s a showcase for the company’s design and technology. But with the split just months old, has Sony’s mobile team learned its lesson? Our Sony Xperia S review will decide whether Sony can hold its own, or if pressure from HTC, Samsung, and Apple is still fierce.

Design and the display

The Sony design aesthetic is certainly taking over the Xperia S’ external looks. Gone are the swoops, curves, and shine of Sony Ericsson days. In its place, Sony has implemented an almost extremely minimalist design that’s both very matte and very rectangular: it’s one of the few phones we’ve ever seen that can stand upright without help. We’re fans of the understated look, especially as it has dropped Sony Ericsson’s tendency towards fake chrome and brushed metal. Some will appreciate the multi-color notification light to let you know of new messages or similar updates.

There are a handful of quirks. The surfaces are fairly smudge-prone, both front and back. It’s easy to clean off, but it can mean heavy use in a given day will be all too clear when you get home. Sony’s design is also rounded at the back; while it will stay flat when put down on the table, we noticed that it can rock to the side if you tap the screen with too much enthusiasm.

If there’s any overt flash to the design, it’s at the bottom. Sony has implemented a transparent rim around the chin that you can’t help but notice. It’s even slightly practical: the area briefly lights up whenever you wake it up or do something such as open a menu, which can be handy in a darkened nightclub when you’re trying to find the controls.

The control layout is decidedly mixed. We like the placement of the volume rocker, and Sony has an appreciated dedicated camera button to go straight to the camera app even when the phone is locked. However, we’re not fans of the sleep/wake placement, which forces you to stretch your finger or shift your hand upwards. The capacitive Android navigation keys at the bottom are occasionally problematic, too. Sony has put the symbols for the controls on the transparent strip, not the actual touch area; there are dots to indicate where you need to touch, as well as haptic (vibration) feedback, but it’s slightly counterintuitive and is implemented in a way that seems occasionally unresponsive.

Expansion, thankfully, is seldom an issue. While there’s no microSD slot, the Xperia S we’re using ships with 32GB built-in along with 1.5GB of dedicated phone space, so it’s enough to handle most common use without running dry. The lack of a slot has the upshot of giving a lot of contiguous storage for apps and media due to a file system change. You won’t run into the common Android problem of having multiple gigabytes of wasted space. Only about 26GB is free due to OS overhead, but it’s more than most.

Our core complaints are the ports. Micro HDMI and micro USB are located on the sides of the phone behind somewhat clumsily opened covers. As much as it helps to keep the ports free of damage, it both takes more effort to plug in and precludes any kind of real docking system. We’re not as perturbed by the normally non-removable battery, in part as there are unofficial techniques to replace it if it dies. It’s mostly a limit if you’re a frequent user and don’t want to use a USB external pack to top up.

As is becoming increasingly common, the display is the centerpiece here. Getting a 720p (720×1280) mobile display isn’t new — we’ve seen them in the HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy Nexus — but it’s one of the few under 4.5 inches, if only just at 4.3. As such, it has even more of a Retina Display-like effect than either iOS devices or larger counterparts. Sony’s upcoming Xperia ion for AT&T has a 4.5-inch panel with the same resolution, so the Xperia S is in some ways beating Sony itself.

In some ways, it’s very pleasing to look at. The pixel density is of course the first draw. In ideal situations, the colors have just the right balance of rich colors without being oversaturated, and is definitely better head-on than the Galaxy Nexus’ slightly “fuzzy” Pentile AMOLED screen. We’d add that the 4.3-inch size is a better fit for those who like to use their phones one-handed, as it’s easier to reach the top of the screen, even if the on-screen keyboard isn’t quite as comfortable.

Not all is flawless, however, and we noticed a conspicuous problem with viewing angles. You only need to tilt the phone slightly for the image to start washing out, and while it’s still usable, it’s not as consistently good as other LCD or AMOLED panels. Sony might have brought elements of its TVs’ Bravia image processing engine to the smartphone world, but the display could use some stepping up.

Android 2.3, Timescape, NFC tags, and upgrading to Android 4.0

Sony has sometimes been chastised for at times epitomizing the flaws of customized Android builds. While it toned things down with 2011 phones like the Xperia Play, some elements of its interface were still overwrought. Its social networking in its own interface layer, Timescape, was the definition of this: like most such apps, it was built on the assumption someone would only ever have a few dozen friends, and fell apart with the way people actually use Facebook or Twitter.

There have been some steps forward since then, both in the social side and overall. Now, the friends widgets are focused on either tracking just a few constant favorites or on the raw feed. Many widgets appear more centered on being functional than flash. The music player app is now more conspicuously useful with quicker (and prettier) access to common categories, and the bottom app shortcut tray is now transparent, giving more of a sense of breathing room. The app drawer is easily sorted by name or date added. Generally, we like navigating in Sony’s space more than we did last year.

The most practical addition comes at the lock screen. Somewhat similar to certain Android layers and iOS 5, certain notifications now show before you’ve unlocked the phone; swipe an e-mail notice and it takes you directly to that app. Very few apps qualify for the notification, however, and Sony has made the somewhat odd decision to make the slide-to-unlock control’s alternate function a mute function. It’s admittedly a common task, but we’d like it to be a common app or a customizable space.

All these are meaningful changes, but at the same time, the overriding sense is of a few minor changes rather than a fundamental revision. Some of the customizations are still welcome, such a two-pane mail client in landscape mode and a keyboard that has Swype-like gesturing. But it feels like a mild change when the audience was looking for an overhaul, with some elements still needing a fix or not really adding anything. The photo widget isn’t very useful, many of the widgets bog the phone down, and the Apple Exposé-like home screen view simply tosses all the widgets into one screen as they float around disconnected from their context. Sony ought to take a cue from HTC’s One series. Pare the custom layer back, focus on where it’s truly useful; don’t “differentiate,” just make it better or leave it alone.

There’s also the concern of Android 2.3 itself. The OS is certainly solid, but it’s now a year and a half old, and only slightly changed in the revisions that followed since Sony (then Sony Ericsson) started using it. Sony had promised that Android 4.0 would come out soon after the Xperia S launched, and we commend it for at least preparing an update. That said, it’s hard to sympathize given that HTC is shipping its core 2012 lineup at the same time with Android 4.0 from the start. And in our experience with Android 4.0, there are fewer and fewer reasons to customize the OS as a whole; even in December, the Galaxy Nexus had more powerful e-mail clients, some extra features like Face Unlock, and overall senses of polish and power that some have said was missing in stock Android until now.

Sony’s approach to NFC (near-field communication) is somewhat emblematic of this. Like LG, it’s bundling a set of its own tags, here called Xperia SmartTags, to provide a sort of extra-phone shortcut. Pass the phone by one of the tags and it can trigger multiple tasks at once, akin to Motorola’s Smart Actions. You can have the phone turn on Wi-Fi when you get home, for example, or launch a remote control app for a networked audio system. It can be handy, but we found it a decidedly niche way to get things done; if you’re not near one of the tags, that automation is lost to you.

With the SmartTags the only real immediate use for NFC on the phone apart from a limited photo sharing feature, it’s hard to advocate for NFC as a feature on the Xperia S until Android 4.0 arrives. We can count the number of times we’ve used Android Beam information sharing on one finger, but it’s still a more universal feature, and it’s joined by Google Wallet support if you’re an American with either a Sprint-edition Galaxy Nexus or the or unlocked HSPA+ version. It’s better that Sony have NFC than not; it’s just that the SmartTags are more an attempt to justify hardware than a meaningful inclusion at this stage.

Performance and data speeds

On paper, the Xperia S is fast, and in some senses it is. A dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor still means a responsive Android overall. However, it’s the previous-generation Snapdragon from late 2011, and that puts an inherent cap on its potential with a 2012 launch. You won’t get the newer, 28-nanometer architecture of the similarly-clocked Snapdragon S4 in a phone like the HTC One S (or North American One X), nor will you get the faster graphics that have come in a number of mobile chips since then.

That’s somewhat borne out by our testing. Android benchmarking has been criticized for its on-the-ground utility, and not without good cause, but it can show the gaps in speed between some phones. Our test units managed 3,109 points in the general-purpose Quadrant test, 1,242 in the Vellamo browser benchmark, and 59.6 frames per second in Qualcomm’s own NeoCore 3D benchmark. All are respectable scores, but they put the phone only slightly above the Galaxy Nexus, which feels subjectively faster.

Compare this to the HTC One phones with the Snapdragon S4 inside, and the difference is much wider. Quadrant on a One S will manage roughly 5,000 points. We broke out the SunSpider browser test from the Vellamo suite and a fairly modest 2,681ms. That’s respectable and competes well against most late 2011 Android 2.3 phones. Next to any Android 4.0 phone, though, it’s plodding; an HTC One phone will get under 1,800ms even with the stock browser, and the Galaxy Nexus’ code optimization helps it get under 2,000ms. We’d add that scores usually get even better when using Chrome for Android, which isn’t an option on Android 2.3.

In regular use, there are fewer complaints. For simply navigating around Android and most 2D apps, the Xperia S is perfectly brisk. Apart from the widget slowdown we mentioned earlier, it’s smooth throughout much of Android and in 2D apps. In the web browser and some 3D games, though, you’ll notice that it’s not quite as smooth as it could be. Scrolling and zooming in the stock browser is responsive, but not especially fluid. A game like Wind-Up Knight loses a small but noticeable amount of the frame rate versus other phones. These are hardly major complaints, and it’s still very much a competent phone. It’s just that competitors have either moved on or were faster to start with.

Internet speeds are strictly middling for the modern era. Sony is using 14.4Mbps HSPA much like the iPhone 4S, and gets similar if not slightly slower results. On a fully capable network, we were getting speeds of about 4.7Mbps to 5.3Mbps downstream, and 1.8Mbps to 2Mbps upstream. They’re respectable and provide a usable Internet experience. Compared to the 21Mbps HSPA+ in the Galaxy Nexus or the LTE in the Galaxy Note, though, it’s just not as quick as it ought to be for a phone released in mid-2012.

If you’re American, we should add that the Xperia ion will carry LTE. Even as early-era 4G gives us worries about battery life, it’s a worthwhile consideration if Internet speed is important.

Camera app and image quality

What stands out in photography on the Xperia S isn’t so much the camera app itself as how quickly you can get to it. As we mentioned, the hardware camera button will skip directly to the app. It’s a technique borrowed primarily from Windows Phone 7, but a welcome one if you catch a sudden moment on the street or at a concert. You can even set the phone to automatically take a picture as soon as it’s woken into this state, although that for us mostly resulted in blurry photos; we set the app back to letting us compose the shot first.

Once inside, though, the app is simple and makes some unusual choices about how to reach common camera settings. If you use the camera shortcut button, it always reverts to the fully automatic scene detection mode, negating any custom settings you have set for when you normally launch the app. When in the normal mode, the only quick access to an advanced setting is exposure compensation; the top level emphasizes scene presets and multiple flash modes (more on those shortly). ISO sensitivity, metering, white balance, and other similar controls require first bringing up the contextual menu and then diving in, which seems artificially slow. While there’s a risk to having too many features on the top level, it feels like Sony’s current app goes a bit far in the opposite direction.

Regular shooting isn’t significantly more advanced than the pre-4.0 stock Android camera app. Sony will let you set the phone to shoot when you tap, but there’s no tap to focus like there is on the iPhone and a few Android phones. It’s possible to do an off-center focused shot by half-pressing the shutter and panning the camera, but you can’t point the Xperia S to a specific subject for focus and metering, let alone bring in autoexposure or autofocus lock like you might on an iPhone.

Despite sharing what’s in some ways the same eight-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS sensor as the iPhone 4S, the Xperia S’ image quality is much more hit-or-miss. Its specialties are macros and well-lit outdoor scenes. Colors are very accurate and vibrant, focus is reasonably quick, and close-ups produce a pleasingly soft background through a shallow depth of field. However, we found that the Xperia S’ hardware was considerably less tolerant of low light, often becoming too noisy and blurry where the iPhone could still have a chance at a usable, if imperfect, photo. The front camera isn’t as good, either. Shot-to-shot times are reasonably quick, although you’ll want either a Galaxy Nexus or an HTC One series phone if you value speed in an Android phone.

Sony deserves some compliments for the sophistication of its flash system. Along with regular flash, options exist for a red eye-reducing flash strobe as well as a fill flash for scenes that aren’t necessarily completely dark but may have undesirable shadows. We’d ideally take something like HTC’s smart flash, which can tell when it needs to tone down the brightness. Still, the option is appreciated.

As you might expect from a company where cameras are a focus, panorama modes are an option. The regular mode is a typical sweep mode, where the phone is guided in an arc and the images are stitched together reasonably well as long as there isn’t heavy action in the scene. An additional option lets you shoot a pseudo-3D panorama by using the rapid-fire shooting to generate a pseudo-stereoscopic 3D view, although with no 3D display on the phone and 3D displays still uncommon among TVs and PCs, it’s hard to use.

Click for full-size version

Video recording quality is a surprising positive. Unlike a lot of phones in the category, it preserves a lot of the quality and still looks sharp with a minimum of artifacts, even while the camera pans. Audio isn’t immune to wind noise, but it can pick up a good amount of ambient sounds without being overwhelmed. Continuous autofocus is normally rather slow, although it’s possible to simplify the autofocus and metering to speed this up — useful if you know you’ll have subjects at varying distances.

If there’s a limitation to video, it’s simply that it tends to be fire-and-forget; that is, you’re committed to whatever focus and settings you had when you started shooting. For most, it won’t be an issue, but it gives few choices for mid-video composition other than zoom. We’d add that going without Android 4.0 leaves the phone without a pre-supplied video editor, so most clips will be raw, unedited footage until you get to a computer or to the YouTube web editor.

Call quality and battery life

With a few exceptions, we’ve generally had a good experience with phone calls on Sony Ericsson phones, and that has kept true now that Sony is going it alone. In both directions, the audio tone felt flat, but it was consistently clear and loud. Our recipients could hear wind noise when we called outside, although they still said that the voice was clearly the most prominent part of the call. The external speaker is uncharacteristically loud, too: Sony is using processing that it calls xLoud, but which really amounts to better volume when the phone isn’t up to your ear or using headphones.

On that subject, we’d add that the stock in-ear headphones are uncommonly good for a pack-in set. You don’t, and probably shouldn’t, need xLoud to get reasonably solid voice calls or music with what Sony supplies. Multiple tips are included in the box to provide a good fit, and there’s an in-line mic and remote to let you answer a call with the phone still in your pocket. One minor quirk to be aware of: Apple’s in-ear headphones don’t register properly for unknown reasons, so don’t revert to those as a backup.

Battery life is better than we first thought, which is something of a relief given that the battery isn’t normally swappable. The Xperia S will last through a full day of moderate use, with periodic browsing, 2D apps, and a substantial voice call or two. If you use it only lightly, it can last two or even three days before the battery warning cries foul. Intensive 3D gaming or photography tends to drain the battery much faster. Like with the HSPA+ edition of the Galaxy Nexus, the Xperia S would run dry in about five hours of very heavy media recording, playback, and uploading.

Wrapping up

In some ways, the Xperia S has had more expectations thrust upon it than it really deserved. Development of the phone no doubt started well before Sony said it was buying out Ericsson’s stake in the Sony Ericsson joint venture, so to call it a “pure” Sony phone is a misnomer. What you mostly get with the finished product is a Sony Ericsson foundation with more conspicuous Sony elements layered on top. The real fruits of any change in strategy will be shown in 2013, if not later.

Taken by itself, the phone is generally accomplished. As much as we’re not fans of Timescape, the phone performs fairly well, has a sharp display, a usually good camera, and great call quality. If you’ve ever wished for distinctive looks in a smartphone that doesn’t come from Apple or Nokia, you’ll find them here. Depending on where you go, pricing can be reasonable. It won’t be hard to get the phone for free on a reasonably priced tariff if you’re European. In North America, it costs a reasonable $100 on contract at Rogers and $500 off, so if you’re enamored with the form factor or Sony ecosystem elements like the Sony Entertainment Network and PlayStation Suite, you won’t have to reach deeply to experience it.

The main obstacle, as should have become evident, is context. Sony isn’t launching the Xperia S into a void. Right away, it’s facing competition from the HTC One X and (mostly in Europe) the One S. Although the Xperia S is easier to hold than the gargantuan One X, the latter has a better overall display and is mated to a much faster processor, a better camera, and most importantly, Android 4.0 with a toned down level of customization; the One S might not have the resolution, but it has the camera, speed, and software. The Galaxy Nexus is still arguably the best Android experience: a cohesive experience, the maximum number of official features, and faster software updates. And we can’t overemphasize the irony of the best Sony camera sensor experience coming from an iPhone, not a Sony phone.

Some of these devices are more expensive, but it’s increasingly hard to argue against small differences in up front prices. If you’re paying for three years of service on Rogers, for example, the $70 more for a One X is negligible given how expensive actual service will be. Europeans may have to get a One S instead to get a good deal on a monthly rate, but we’d still seriously consider it.

As such, if there’s anything Sony is a victim of, it’s simply being mid-tier. We’d actually consider Xperia U, if and when it arrives in your area, as the Sony phone to get. It may not be as technically advanced, but the power-to-feature ratio makes the most sense. For now, the Xperia S is the most logical if you want a 720p screen and can find a good deal.

The Good

  • 720p display in modest size with good head-on color.
  • Distinctive design.
  • Rich camera quality in ideal conditions.
  • Fast in some situations.
  • Very good call and overall audio quality.
  • Solid battery life.
  • Some customizations are helpful.
  • 32GB of storage built-in.

The Bad

  • Not as fast or well-featured as some of its spring rivals.
  • Display viewing angles are poor.
  • Stuck on Android 2.3 at first.
  • Camera struggles in low light.
  • Timescape still somewhat excessive.
  • No expandable storage or removable battery.
  • Quirky navigation keys.
Sony Xperia S
MRP: 32,500
Street Price: Rs 31,000 (Flipkart.comSaholic.com) Rs 32,000 (Letsbuy.com)

Hands on

Video Review

Phone Specs:

GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 – LT26i
Announced 2012, January
Status Available. Released 2012, February
BODY Dimensions 128 x 64 x 10.6 mm
Weight 144 g
– Touch-sensitive controls
DISPLAY Type LED-backlit LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.3 inches (~342 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes, up to 10 fingers
Protection Scratch-resistant glass
– Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine
– Timescape UI
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3 ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 32 GB storage, 1 GB RAM
DATA GPRS Up to 86 kbps
EDGE Up to 237 kbps
Speed HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
NFC Yes
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 12 MP, 4000×3000 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, 3D sweep panorama, image stabilization
Video Yes, 1080p@30fps, continuous autofocus, video light, video stabilizer
Secondary Yes, 1.3 MP, 720p@30fps
FEATURES OS Android OS, v2.3 (Gingerbread), planned upgrade to v4.0
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon
CPU Dual-core 1.5 GHz
GPU Adreno 220
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
Browser HTML5, Adobe Flash
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support and GLONASS
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
Colors White, Black
– MicroSIM card support only
– TV launcher
– SNS integration
– HDMI port
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP4/H.263/H.264/WMV player
– MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV player
– TrackID music recognition
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk
– Document viewer
– Voice memo/dial/commands
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Standard battery, Li-Ion 1750 mAh
Stand-by Up to 450 h (2G) / Up to 420 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 7 h 30 min (2G) / Up to 8 h 30 min (3G)
Music play Up to 25 h
MISC SAR EU 1.30 W/kg (head)     0.80 W/kg (body)
Price group  Rs. 32,500
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: 1038:1 (nominal)
Loudspeaker Voice 72dB / Noise 61dB / Ring 69dB
Audio quality Noise -86.6dB / Crosstalk -86.9dB
Camera Photo / Video

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