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Archive for October, 2012

Sony’s latest Xperia SL powered by a dual-core 1.7 for MRP. Rs. 32,549/-

Sony Xperia SL

 

The Xperia SL is considered to be one of Sony’s high-end smartphone as it features a 4.3-inch display with a resolution of 1280 X 720 pixels.

The device runs on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich OS (upgradable to Jelly Bean) and is powered by a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor. It has 1GB of RAM. Other features include 32GB built-in storage, no microSD card slot, a 12MP camera with an LED flash with the ability to shoot video in 1080p whereas the front has a 1.3MP video calling camera @720p. It also supports NFC and Bluetooth.

The Xperia SL supports HDMI-out, DLNA, 3D and motion gaming, 3D surround sound, TV launcher and the Walkman application. Read more about the Xperia SL.

The Xperia SL is priced at Rs. 32,549 (MRP)

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Specifications:

General 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
SIM Micro-SIM
Announced 2012, August
Status Available. Released 2012, September
Body Dimensions 128 x 64 x 10.6 mm (5.04 x 2.52 x 0.42 in)
Weight 144 g (5.08 oz)
– 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, v3.0 with A2DP, EDR
NFC Yes
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support
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, v4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon
CPU Dual-core 1.7 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 Black, White, Silver, Pink
– 50 GB of Cloud storage (time limited offer)
– 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 420 h
Talk time Up to 8 h 30 min
Music play Up to 25 h
Misc Price group Rs. 32,549/-

 

A refresh, instead of a proper upgrade. A replacement model rather than a successor. Is the Sony Xperia SL aiming too low? Many will probably say so, but you can’t blame Sony for trying to extend the life of a pretty solid smartphone and one of its best-received handsets.

The Sony Xperia SL might not tempt anyone already owning the Xperia S to upgrade, but then again that’s where the Xperia T steps in. The new Sony smartphone takes the path of the Arc S and tries to give a once successful flagship better chances to survive in the mid-range.


Sony Xperia SL official photos

The Xperia SL finds itself in the middle of an extremely fierce battle. It’s squeezed between the affordable dual-core NovaThor-powered droids and the flagships from the beginning of the year, which have undergone several price-cuts and are ready to conquer new territories.

The question is whether the Sony Xperia SL has what it takes to survive in these conditions. A look at its main strengths and weaknesses should help us with the answer.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with 14.4 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 4.3″ 16M-color capacitive LED-backlit LCD touchscreen of 720p resolution (720 x 1280 pixels) with Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine; Scratch-resistant glass
  • Android OS v4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Dual-core 1.7 GHz Scorpion CPU, 1 GB RAM, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260 chipset
  • 12 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geo-tagging, Multi Angle shot
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • 1.3 MP front-facing camera, 720p video recording
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 32GB built-in storage
  • microHDMI port, dedicated TV launcher
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • Voice dialing
  • Deep Facebook integration
  • PlayStation Certified, access to the PS Store
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor

Main disadvantages

  • More powerful chipsets can be had for the same price
  • Display has sub-par viewing angles
  • No microSD card slot

It’s quite obvious, that even after the speed bump, the Sony Xperia SL isn’t the most powerful droid around. There are several offerings within its own price-range to offer Krait cores and newer generation graphics processors, which might or might not matter too much, depending on wether the Sony smartphone can offer a smooth ride through the UI.

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The Sony Xperia SL studio shots

Plus, there’s the 720p BRAVIA-powered screen of Retina-beating pixel density and the very capable 12 megapixel camera, which give the Xperia SL a couple of potent weapons of its own. The design has not changed one bit, but few will deny that the Xperia S was already one of the sleekest looking smartphones around.

It appears that the Xperia SL won’t allow our jury to make an easy call, so let’s kick off this review in the hope that by the time we are finished, the picture would be more clear.

A standard retail box

The retail box of the Sony Xperia SL features the familiar GreenHeart charger, which pairs with the microUSB cable to charge the phone. An in-ear headset is also available, which rounds up all the essentials, as the Xperia SL has no card slot.

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The Xperia SL box and its contents

The only difference over the Xperia S box is the lack of Smart Tags. The Sony Xperia SL still features NFC connectivity, and you can always download the SmartTag app off the Google Play store, but if you are after the Smart Tags functionality, you’ll have to purchase them separately.

The Sony Mobile official store offers a bundle of four tags in different colors for $20, in case you were wondering. You may even be able to get cheaper offers on Ebay, the tags are universal and don’t have to be branded by Sony to work with the Xperia SL.

Sony Xperia SL dimensions

The Sony Xperia SL has the exact same measures as the Sony Xperia S – 128 x 64 x 10.6 mm. Considering that the Motorola RAZR M stands at the impressive 122.5 x 60.9 x 8.3, while touting an identically sized screen and a larger, 2000 mAh battery, the Xperia SL may certainly be considered a bulky smartphone.

The Xperia SL is also quite heavy, tipping the scales at 144g. It’s no Nokia Lumia 920, but it certainly won’t let you forget that it’s in your pocket. On the other hand, the relatively heavy weight contributes to a very solid feel, when you hold the Xperia SL in your hand.

Design and build quality

The Sony Xperia SL design is perfectly identical to that of the Sony Xperia S.It’s not a new design, but we still like the combination of square angles and curves.

The design has carried over the unique accent too, in the illuminated transparent strip. In this day it’s not that easy to find a smartphone which has as much character as the Xperia SL. It might have led to an increase in the overall volume, but it’s probably worth it. After all, the Sony smartphone doesn’t have a screen nearing 5″ in size to worry about so it can afford to spare a few millimeters for a good cause like that.

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The Sony Xperia SL next to the Sony Xperia miro

Above the screen sits the earpiece, alongside the 1.3MP front-facing camera, which can record 720p video. The proximity and ambient light sensors are here too, and there’s a charge/event indicator, which glows in red or green depending on the charge status and blinks whenever there’s something that requires your attention.

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There’s a front-facing camera and a bunch of sensors next to the earpiece

Below the screen, there are three tiny dots marking the three capacitive keys (Back, Home and Menu). The actual icons are within the transparent strip, so you might be fooled to try and push those instead (like we did) and it takes a while to get used to the correct position of the keys. What’s more, they’ve been tweaked to require a proper press rather than a light touch so it feels awkward in the beginning.

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The three keys below the screen

The transparent strip has a cool white backlight, which makes it an attractive design accent in the dark. A fusion of form and function, this strip also holds the antenna. A closer look will show you the almost invisible grid inlayed in the transparent plastic that transfers the signal.

The two wired ports – microUSB and microHDMI – are on the sides of the phone. Both are hidden under plastic flaps to keep dust away.

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The microUSB port is on the left

The right side of the Sony Xperia SL holds a couple of other controls too – a volume rocker and a shutter key. We were hoping that the Xperia SL will address our complaints about the camera key, but we are in no luck. The thing is the button is thin and has a low profile, and while it’s easy to press, the stop between half-press and full-press can be hard to feel sometimes.

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The volume rocker and the camera key are next to the microHDMI port on the right

On the other hand, an imperfect camera key is still better than no camera key at all, so we’d like to give Sony a pat on the back for including it. Not only does it allow you to launch the camera instantly, but it also greatly improves usability, despite the flaws in this implementation.

The Power/Lock key and the 3.5mm audio jack are on the top. The audio jack is left uncovered, but that’s usually the case with these and it makes sense since it will probably see plenty of use.

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The power button and the 3.5mm audio jack

There’s nothing of interest at the bottom besides the lanyard eyelet and the microphone pinhole.

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The lanyard eyelet and the microphone pinhole

The back cover of the Xperia SL is made of soft matte plastic, which feels good and hides fingerprints well. Here we find the 12MP camera lens, located very near the top edge. This means you’ll have to be extra careful not to put a finger over it when taking a photo.

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The 12 megapixel camera lens has the LED flash and the loudspeaker grille on its side

The camera is accompanied by a single-LED flash and the secondary microphone used when shooting video. The loudspeaker grille is also here.

Removing the back cover doesn’t reveal much – you’ll find the microSIM card here, but you don’t get to see the battery. What you would find is an aluminum frame painted black.

The battery is a 1750 mAh unit, which is said to provide about 420 hours of 3G stand-by 8 hours and 30 minutes of 3G talk time. The Endurance rating of the Xperia SL is 32 hours, meaning you can talk for an hour, browse the web another hour and play and hour of video a day and you’d have to charge the Xperia SL once every 32 hours.

Display

The screen on the Sony Xperia SL is certainly one of the smartphone’s highlights. It’s mesmerizingly sharp, with punchy colors and very good contrast, backed by the mobile BRAVIA engine. The fact that the Xperia SL display is one of the most pixel-dense on the market at 342ppi also helps a great deal.

Its only downside (and it’s not a minor one) is the poor viewing angles.

Anyway, the Xperia SL screen has decent blacks and even though its brightness isn’t impressive, it still managed to get a good score in our test.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia SL 0.51 535 1049
Sony Xperia S -> 0.48 495 1038
Sony Xperia acro S 0.61 625 1022
LG Optimus 4X HD 0.34 369 1077 0.68 750 1102
HTC One S 0 177 ∞ 0 386 ∞

 

Sunlight legibility of the screen also turned out pretty good.

Handling

We liked the clean design of the Sony Xperia SL. The transparent strip is a unique accent and subtle enough (the Xperia pureness must be glad a small part of it lives on).

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Handling the Sony Xperia SL

The curved back fits nicely in the hand, and despite the fact it adds some extra thickness, the Xperia SL is still fairly compact and pocketable. One-handed operation is almost always possible, too.

Xperia on Ice Cream Sandwich

The Sony Xperia SL runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich out of box and it’s got the custom Sony launcher on top of it, so the interface doesn’t feel too different. It’s not exactly identical to what you got with the Xperias that started with Gingerbread and were promoted to ICS, but we still found our way around reasonably quickly.

It’s a little disappointing that the Xperia UI found on the Xperia T didn’t make its way to the SL. It had a revamped task switcher interface with the active, on-screen widgets, which featured a live overlay over the homescreen (video player, etc.) and the more functional notification area with various toggles.

As usual, we’re starting with a short video of the user interface:

The Xperia SL has the usual five-pane homescreen configuration, but there is no option to add or remove panes. Along the bottom, there are five docked shortcuts (the app drawer shortcut and two on each of its sides). These are visible across all five homescreen panes and are user configurable: they can be either single icons or folders with multiple items in them.

Speaking of folders – they show thumbnails of the first four items in them.

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The Sony Xperia SL UI • Choosing theme • Folders

As with older Sony smartphones, you can change the color theme of the launcher according to your preferences.

The homescreen does a neat trick called Overview mode. Pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new screen opens up with a cool transition. All active widgets gather there for easy viewing and selection.

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The Overview mode helps you find the widget you are looking for

The Xperia SL has some custom-made Sony widgets in addition to the standard set. Those include the Timescape widget (there’s a dedicated app too) and a Mediascape-like widget for photos and videos (the actual app isn’t there anymore, but the Album gallery is).

When on a homescreen pressing the menu button opens up a context menu under the status bar. It gives you two options – choosing a widget and choosing a wallpaper/theme. It’s oddly placed and easy to miss at first because the animation is so underplayed it looks as if nothing has happened.

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Widgets menu • Wallpaper menu

A cool new addition to the lockscreen, missing from the pre-ICS Xperias, is the Walkman widget which lets you control music playback without unlocking the phone. You can also enable Face, Pattern, PIN or Password unlock, in ascending order of security.

Moving and removing widgets hasn’t changed and is as simple as on droids of old – hold a finger over a desired widget and move it around. The action has a cool wobble animation to it.

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Moving and deleting widgets

The standard notification area and task switcher are of course present and accounted for, with no custom touches to them. For some reason, the notification area isn’t accessible from the lockscreen as it usually is on ICS (and on other ICS-running Xperia phones).

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The lockscreen • Lockscreen options • The standard notification area and task switcher

As a part of the ICS platform you get the Data usage app. Sony provided one on Gingerbread as well, but this one is far more accurate in calculating your used traffic. It also lets you set a limit for mobile data usage for a specific period and o gives you a breakdown of which apps have used how many of your precious bytes.

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Data usage app

Sony has added its own Backup & reset feature for Android ICS. It works for apps you’ve uninstalled and then reinstalled again, restoring them with the previous saved settings. The reset menu also lies in the same submenu.

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Backup & reset

Sony have made a lot of improvements to the standard ICS build, but also omitted some that other OEMs are opting for. For example, Samsung has a Remove all feature when you open the task switcher. Also, there are still no connectivity toggles in the notification area and there’s no option to change the number homescreen panes.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Sony Xperia SL is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon chipset, which packs two 1.7 GHz Scorpion cores, 1 GB of RAM and an Adreno 220 GPU, which has all of 1280 x 720 pixels to push. It’s a nice smartphone setup but not class leading anymore.

We begin with the Quadrant benchmark where the Xperia SL clocks in at the last spot, which is normal considering its competition is mostly quad-cores with the occasional dual-core Krait.

Phonebook

The Xperia SL phonebook is the same as the one on the Xperia T. It has slight visual changes: the bottom bar no longer shows you shortcuts to phone, favorites, contacts, and is now a search and add number field. The contacts, phone, favorites and groups tabs have been moved to the top and can be alternated by side-swipes.

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The phonebook • The quick contacts can save you a click or two • the available options

The contact list can be sorted by either first or last name. There are two contact search options – a dedicated search field on the bottom of the contact list, and an alphabetical scroll bar to jump to names starting with a specific letter on the right.

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts (as well as filter specific groups in an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers or only contacts that are online.

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Filtering contacts in the phonebook

If a contact has accounts in multiple services, you can “link” their details to keep everything in one place. Their Facebook photos and interests (part of the Facebook integration) will show as extra tabs.

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Viewing and editing a contact

Quick contacts are enabled – a tap on the contact’s photo brings up shortcuts for calling, texting or emailing the contact.

Each contact can have a variety of fields (and repeat fields of the same type). There’s an Add field button and the X button lets you remove fields as needed. The fields cover anything from names (including a field to write the name down phonetically) to addresses, nicknames and notes.

There is an option to redirect calls directly to voicemail. Custom ringtones are enabled too.

Smart telephony

Receiving and making calls on the Xperia SL was great. The built-in secondary microphone is used for active noise-cancellation so calls are loud and clear even in noisy environments.

The Xperia SL phone app features smart dialing. It searches for matches in both the contacts’ phones and names. There’s voice dialing too (the quickest way to activate it is to press and hold the hardware Search key).

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Smart dialing is available • Dialer

Thanks to the proximity and accelerometer sensors, the Sony Xperia SL automatically disables the touchscreen when you lift it up during a call.

The call log is integrated in the dialer – it shows a list of recently dialed, received and missed calls in the top half of the screen and the keypad on the bottom half. Once you start typing, the call log is replaced by the smart dial list. You can hide the keypad to make more room for the call log.

We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Sony Xperia SL. It managed a Good mark and will be heard loud and clear in most case scenarios. More info on our loudspeaker test can be found here.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overal score
Sony Xperia T 63.7 58.9 62.1 Below Average
Apple iPhone 5 66.8 66.1 67.7 Below Average
HTC Desire C 64.6 64.7 75.7 Average
Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S6500 69.7 66.6 71.5 Average
Sony Xperia SL (no xLOUD) 75.2 65.8 74.8 Good
Sony Xperia SL (xLOUD) 75.5 65.9 76.9 Good
Sony Xperia Go 68.7 65.8 76.2 Good
LG Optimus 4X HD 68.7 66.6 79.3 Good
Motorola RAZR XT910 74.7 66.6 82.1 Very Good
HTC Desire 76.6 75.7 84.6 Excellent

Messaging is business as usual

Text messages and MMS use standard threaded layouts. Each thread is displayed as an IM chat session, with the most recent message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them against deletion.

Search is enabled to locate a specific message in all conversations and you can also activate delivery reports.

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The messaging app

Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message to an MMS.

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Creating a multimedia message

Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allows multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there’s no unified inbox for other email services.

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Gmail app supports batch operations and multiple (Gmail) accounts

However, the generic email app can do that as well. It can handle multiple POP or IMAP accounts and you have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online.

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The generic Email client has a combined inbox option

Google Talk handles Instant Messaging. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat, etc.

As for text input, the Xperia SL offers a customized on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. Typing on the portrait keyboard is fairly comfortable – the screen is big enough to house decently-sized keys that are easy to hit.

Flipping the phone to landscape gives you even bigger, easier to press buttons.

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Xperia SL keyboard is comfortable in either layout

You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn’t give you the desired typing speed. It works the same as Swype. Even if you’ve never used a Swype-like input before, you’ll quickly get used to it.

The brand new gallery

The Xperia SL comes with the new Sony Ice Cream Sandwich gallery, called Album.

It has a whole new interface where images are arranged into stacks of thumbnails and sorted by date. You can also opt to show all of your albums in one place. There are three tabs above the stacks – Pictures, Map and Online.

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The Album gallery

Pictures is the main tab – you can use pinch gestures to make the thumbnails bigger or smaller. Map reminds us of the iOS gallery, where all pictures with a Geo-tag are shown on a map of the world.

The Online tab uses pictures from the connected online services – Google Picasa, Facebook, etc. You have options to tag, like and comment on Facebook photos much like you did with the previous Xperia Gallery.

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The Geo-tagging à la iOS

Images in both galleries can be cropped or rotated directly in the gallery. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also enabled.

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Viewing an image

The BRAVIA engine enhances contrast and colors by sharpening the image and reducing noise. These steps normally lead to visual artifacts, but you’ll have to look at them very close up to notice. You can switch BRAVIA off, but we recommend keeping it on – it really improves the viewing experience.

Video player is new too

In keeping with the new music player and gallery, Sony has added a new video player as well. It’s dubbed Movies and it too has a new interface. It’s connected to Gracenote, which helps you find additional information about the movies you have preloaded.

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Watching a video on the Xperia SL

DivX and XviD videos support is iffy to say the least. Most of the videos we tried didn’t play on the Xperia SL and it did have issues even with mp4 files. We found that there’s an issue with audio playback as mp4 files with AAC sound weren’t a problem. 720p videos were handled with ease, 1080p videos were also watchable but not all of them. Overall, we suggest converting all your movies into the appropriate format or just downloading a video player off the Google Play Store with support for more video codecs.

Walkman music player on board

To complete the trio of redesigned Sony apps is the new Walkman music player. It retains all the functionality of the older music players but adds a little bit extra here and there.

It is divided into Playing and My music panels.

In the My music section, you can update your album art and music information like album, year, and more. SensMe is included, meaning you can filter your songs by type – upbeat, energetic, mellow, dance, etc. Creating playlists is enabled and you can also view your Facebook buddies’ activity if they too use the Walkman player.

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The music player is decent looking and snappy

The Now Playing screen offers the standard music controls, shortcuts to the library, “Infinity” key and the song cover art. The Infinity key lets you quickly look up a song on YouTube or browse for the lyrics, among others.

Currently, the only available visualization is the album art.

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The Now Playing interface • The equalizer

Finally, the Walkman player offers support for customizable equalizer settings, giving die-hard audiophiles the chance to fiddle around with the individual EQ bands.

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Sound enhancements and EQ

While the rest of the music player is the same as what we saw on the neo V, this one adds music controls to the lockscreen. Swiping them either side brings back the clock. The notification area also offers the now playing screen with music controls and the option to jump into the Walkman player.

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Music player controls on the lockscreen and notification area

The Sony Xperia SL also features an FM Radio aboard complete with RDS support – an improvement over the Neo L, which had no FM Radio at all.

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The FM Radio

Good audio quality

The Sony Xperia SL did excellently in the first part of our traditional audio quality test. The smartphone got very good scores all over and if it wasn’t for the only average volume levels it would have been perfect.

There’s some degradation when you plug in a pair of headphones, but things certainly aren’t too bad. The stereo crosstalk rises and some distortion creeps in. Volume levels remain about the same, though, which is not a common sight among smartphones. A solid overall performance, which should please anyone but the most demanding audiophiles.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Sony Xperia SL +0.10, -0.10 -87.2 87.4 0.011 0.019 -87.9
Sony Xperia SL (headphones attached) +0.52, -0.11 -87.3 87.1 0.051 0.323 -49.0
Sony Xperia T +0.11, -0.10 -86.1 87.8 0.023 0.023 -84.1
Sony Xperia T (headphones attached) +0.43, -0.11 -86.1 87.5 0.140 0.260 -62.7
Sony Xperia S +0.10, -0.09 -86.6 86.8 0.011 0.018 -86.9
Sony Xperia S (headphones attached) +0.44, -0.13 -88.4 88.6 0.264 0.338 -47.3
LG Optimus 4X HD +0.02, -0.52 -74.8 74.8 0.345 0.318 -81.6
LG Optimus 4X HD (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.51 -70.1 69.9 0.815 0.811 -64.5
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III +0.03, -0.05 -90.3 90.3 0.012 0.018 -92.6
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III (headphones attached) +0.11, -0.04 -90.2 90.2 0.0092 0.090 -53.1
HTC One X +0.02, -0.08 -82.1 82.1 0.137 0.393 -80.7
HTC One X (headphones attached) +0.10, -0.10 -80.6 80.6 0.174 0.459 -60.8

Sony Xperia SL frequency response
Sony Xperia SL frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

12 MP Camera comes with its own interface

The Xperia SL boasts a 12 megapixel camera with a back-illuminated Exmor R sensor and a single LED flash. It’s capable of producing stills of 4000 x 3000 resolution. We have every reason to believe that the Xperia SL features the same image sensor and module as the Xperia S and possibly the acro S.

The camera controls on the Xperia SL are identical to those of the Xperia S – they are available on two taskbars on either side of the viewfinder. On the left you get four shortcuts to various settings, while the still camera/camcorder toggle, the virtual shutter and a thumbnail of the last photo taken are on the right.

The menu key brings up two pages of extra settings – scenes, resolution, smile detection, geotagging, image stabilization and focus mode among others. You can customize three of the shortcuts on the left (the shooting mode shortcut is fixed).

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Sony Xperia Sl Sony Xperia Sl
The new camera interface

There are five capture modes to choose from: Normal, Scene recognition, Sweep Panorama, Sweep Multi Angle and 3D Sweep Panorama. In Normal, you pick the Scene settings manually or you can enable Scene recognition and let the Xperia S take a guess (it’s fairly good at it).

The 3D Sweep Panorama is business as usual – you press the shutter key and pan the phone across the scene. The resulting panoramic photo can be viewed in both 2D and 3D (on a compatible TV).

The Sweep Multi Angle is much more impressive – you take a photo in the exact same way, but the result is very different. It produces something like a lenticular card, providing a different perspective when viewed at an angle.

Tilting the phone lets you look at the object from different sides. A shot of a moving object looks like an animated GIF or creates interesting and sometimes comical distortions.Photos taken in Sweep Multi Angle mode are handled by a separate app called 3D album, and not listed in the regular gallery. And just to make it clear again – the Xperia SL doesn’t have a 3D screen, but rather cleverly relies on its sensors to detect the handset movement and it changes the on-screen image accordingly.

The Xperia SL features a Quick launch option, which lets you customize the phone’s behavior upon a press of the camera key when the phone is locked. The default option is Launch and capture – it unlocks the phone, starts the camera and instantly snaps a photo.

It’s hard to frame the first shot right from this mode, but you can quickly take another photo as the camera reloads quite fast. The other option is to just unlock the phone and start the camera, or you can disable the feature altogether.

The Sony Xperia SL proved to be a very capable shooter. It produces images with loads of detail and great colors, especially at base ISO when there’s plenty of light. The camera was also very fast to start up and locks in on targets very quickly, rarely missing to focus or focusing on the wrong thing.

Noise is kept well under wraps – it’s only visible in areas with solid color like the sky, windows, etc.



Sony Xperia SL camera samples

Detail is very impressive even from very up close and having the physical shutter key really adds to the ease of use when shooting with the Xperia SL.

Overall, the camera on the Xperia SL shows a tendency towards regaining the past legacy of Sony Ericsson as a good cameraphone maker. What we like about it is that even with the right hardware on board Sony have tweaked the software just right so that it produces good results in every condition.

Image quality comparison

The Sony Xperia SL enters our photo quality comparison tool butting heads with its siblings, the Xperia S and the Xperia acro S. Feel free to choose any other adversaries you wish – the tool’s page will give you all the information on how to do that and what to watch out for.

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Sony Xperia SL in our Photo Compare Tool

Okay video recording

The Sony Xperia SL captures 1080p and 720p videos at 30 fps, currently the upper limit of what you can expect from a smartphone.

The camcorder has similar settings to the still camera, including focus mode, metering, exposure value, image stabilization and so on. The layout of the shortcuts can be customized here, too.

The Xperia SL camcorder features continuous autofocus. It may take a few seconds to refocus after you re-frame but that’s better than repeatedly attempting to lock focus and ruining your video.

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Switching to camcorder modeFullHD videos are stored in MP4 format (19Mbps bitrate) and the frame rate nails the 29fps mark. The Xperia SL videos come with stereo sound recorded at 131Kbps bitrate and 48kHz sampling – all pointing to slightly superior video recording compared to the Xperia S.

While numbers show a potential for high quality the actual end result isn’t as good. The Xperia SL produces smooth videos with okay colors but the level of detail isn’t inspiring and the videos look blurry and lack the proper sharpness you get with devices like the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III.

Here is a 1080p video sample captured with the Xperia SL.

720p videos are a slightly different story. While audio bitrate and sample rate remain the same, the video bitrate measures around 12Mbps.

If you want to look closer at the video quality, you can download 1080p and 720p samples taken straight off the device.

Video quality comparison

We’ve added the Xperia SL to our video comparison tool. See how it fares against the likes of the Xperia acro S and the Xperia S.

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Sony Xperia SL in our Video Compare Tool

Full-fledged connectivity

The Sony Xperia SL has quad-band 2G and 3G. Mobile data speeds are boosted by 14.4 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76Mbps HSUPA.

Local connectivity is covered by Wi-Fi b/g/n with DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct, so you can easily share content from your phone on a DLNA TV or music player. There’s also Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP.

MicroUSB handles the charging and connecting to your PC and there’s also USB On-the-go support so you can attach external flash drives to the SL.

Media Remote isn’t preinstalled on the Xperia SL but you can get it through the Google Play Store. It will serve as a remote control for DLNA-capable BRAVIA TVs and Sony DVD/Blu-ray players too. There are a few versions of the interface ranging from simply changing the channels to mouse input and viewing disc history.

The Media Remote app is also available for free so that other Android smartphones can use it too.

The Xperia SL also comes with Sony’s Smart Connect app, which replaces the former LiveWare manager, although the functionality remains basically the same. With Smart connect, you can automate a lot of tasks and settings on your device, like launching an app when you connect an accessory, or turning features on or off depending the phone’s on charger and what-not.

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LiveWare manager can, for example, launch the music player as soon as you connect a headset

Web browsing is nice on ICS

The Sony Xperia SL enjoys the well known Android ICS web browser. This browser has a streamlined interface, incognito browsing and other cool features.

The browser is quite minimalistic; all you get is the URL bar with a tabs shortcut. Hitting the Menu key you get more options – Refresh, Forward, Save to bookmarks, Share page, Find on page, full settings and a couple of more – Request desktop site (no more hunting for that “Desktop” option buried at the bottom of the site) and Save for offline reading.

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The web browser was redesigned

The full settings menu includes some really interesting options. For example, you can set your search engine to Yahoo or Bing, you can adjust text size and the level of which double tap will zoom in.

The browser borrows several features from its desktop counterpart: when searching for something, if the browser is confident you’ll click on a certain search result, it will start preloading that page right away so that it opens faster if you do click it. You can set this feature to work over Wi-Fi only to preserve data.

The other trick is the ability to open Incognito tabs.

Speaking of tabs, the tab switching interface looks exactly like the Recent apps list. You can even close tabs by swiping them off the screen.

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Switching tabs works the same way as switching apps does

Quick controls (available as a Google Labs extra) reveal five controls (New tab, Tabs, URL, Bookmarks, More) when you slide your finger in from the side. These really go a long way in improving the browser experience. Another cool feature from Labs is Full screen, which squeezes in a little more screen real estate by hiding the status bar.

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The Quick controls

The Adobe Flash Player app has been omitted from the Google Play store so if you don’t side-load it from somewhere the SL will only be able to handle HTML 5 videos out of the box.

You can also opt for the much-improved Google Chrome web browser. It’s very smooth and doesn’t crash nearly as much as when it was in beta mode. The interface is pretty simple – you get a combined URL and search bar on the top. To the right of it there’s a tab switcher button with the number of open tabs on it. Hitting the menu button reveals options like new tab, bookmarks, look at closed tabs on other devices, request desktop site, etc.

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Google Chrome

Switching between tabs is very intuitive. You just swipe to the left or right to move between various open pages. In the tab interface you can also swipe away tabs you don’t want anymore.

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Switching tabs in Chrome

Chrome offers full synchronization with your Google account. Just type it in and it will immediately connect to all of your devices with Chrome installed. The only thing that doesn’t get synced are your passwords.

Great organizing skills

The Sony Xperia SL doesn’t come with many organizational apps preinstalled. There’s no office document viewer, for instance, although you can get one from the Google Play store.

There’s a Notes app that comes with the Xperia SL. It’s pretty simple to use – you can select the color of the note and just start typing. There’s a handwriting recognition option too allowing you to draw with your hands on the Xperia SL or just use a stylus of some kind.

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The Notes app

The Power Saver app helps you extend your battery life by toggling things like Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth screen brightness, auto sync and background data on and off automatically when the battery charge falls below a certain user-defined threshold.

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The Power saver app

The calendar has three different types of view – daily, weekly and monthly. The lower section of the screen is reserved for a list of upcoming events. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.

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The organizer centerpiece – the calendar

The Calendar also pulls info on upcoming events from your Facebook account. Facebook events appear just like regular calendar entries, but you can’t edit them on the phone as they are read-only.

There is a nicely touch-optimized calculator aboard. The buttons are really big and easy to hit, and you can expand it to include advanced functions (trigonometry, logarithms).

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Regular Calculator • Scientific Calculator

The alarm clock app supports multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The Alarms app can also work as a desk clock – you have a big toggle for the brightness, as well as weather info and shortcuts to a gallery slideshow and the music player.

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The Clock • Creating alarm

The stopwatch, world clock and timer are available within the clock app.

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World Clock • Stopwatch • Timer

The Google Play store is full of free apps that will cater to all your organizing needs.

Offline Google Maps and Wisepilot navigation

The Sony Xperia SL comes with a GPS receiver, which took about a minute to get satellite lock upon a cold start. You can use the A-GPS functionality to get near instantaneous locks. Alternatively, network positioning will do if you only need a rough idea of your location.

Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and we’ve covered it many times before. It offers voice-guided navigation in certain countries and falls back to a list of instructions elsewhere.

3D buildings are shown for some of the bigger cities and you can use two-finger camera tilt and rotate to get a better view of the area.

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Google Maps

Google Maps uses vector maps, which are very data efficient. The latest version has an easy to use interface for caching maps – you just choose “Make available offline” from the menu and pan/zoom around until the desired area is in view (there’s an indicator showing how much storage caching that area will take). You can later view cached areas and delete ones you no longer need.

Note that there’s a limit to the size of the area you can cache – you can’t just make all of Europe available offline, not even a whole country. We managed to cache a big city and some surrounding regions before Maps told us the area is too big. Also, there’s no address search in the cached maps and you can only cache map data in supported regions of the world.

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Making an area of the map available for offline usage is very easy

You can plan routes, search for nearby POI and go into the always cool Street View. The app will reroute you if you get off course, even without a data connection.

Wisepilot is also part of the Sony Xperia SL package, with a 30 days trial of the full navigation license and downloadable maps for offline navigation.

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WisePilot navigation

Play Store has everything

Running on Android ICS, the Xperia SL has access to the latest apps and the ample built-in memory will guarantee you won’t have trouble with space.

The Store is organized in a few scrollable tabs – categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. The in-app section is untouched though and it’s very informative – a description, latest changes, number of downloads and comments with rating. There is usually a demo video and several screenshots for most apps too.

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The Google Play Store

There are all kinds of apps in the Google Play Store and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).

Final Words

Sony has finally caught up with the competition in the Android mobile space. Once plagued by update issues and lack of powerful processing skills, the Xperia smartphones played an underhanded role and failed to make a serious impact, giving way to bold Galaxies and Desires to grab a strong hold.

With offerings that are now sporting dual-core Krait-clad processors and more megapixels than the fingers on both your hands, it seems Sony’s Xperia is gathering friction again. So where does that leave the Xperia SL? An almost exact match to the Xperia S, but arriving an extra year later, the Xperia SL can’t help but be demoted to midrange ranks.

Sony has the high-end well covered. With the Xperia T roaring into markets all around the world it’s the midrange and low-end that need attention. Sony already has plenty of battle-ready smartphones waiting to tackle the opposition but a seasoned expert like the Xperia SL couldn’t hurt. The Xperia J, Xperia V, tipo, miro, go and acro S, etc. could all use an experienced veteran such as the Xperia SL to keep carrying the Xperia flag.

But should you go for it and churn out the considerable amount of cash Sony is asking? Let’s have a look at the competition, shall we?

The Xperia S, naturally, is first to spring to mind. It costs a serious chunk less than the Xperia SL and is basically the same phone. It finally got the Android ICS treatment and it has the same processor which can be overclocked if those 200 MHz are all-important to your geeky self-pride.

Then, there’s the Xperia acro S. It’s pretty much the same package but adds expandable storage and a pinch of underwater and dust resistance. It also matches the Xperia SL on price.

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Sony Xperia S • Sony Xperia acro S

A glance in HTC’s direction reveals a couple of good-looking droids with Beats Audio on board. The One X has a bigger, gorgeous screen, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor that’s more than adequate and a stunning polycarbonate finish with eccentric smooth accents. It will set you back a bit more than an Xperia SL but is more likely to receive Android Jelly Bean than the Sony smartphone. The One S overtakes the Xperia SL on processing, having a potent Qualcomm S4 CPU ticking inside its mechanical chest. It’s also cheaper and, one would argue, prettier than an Xperia SL. But it loses on display resolution bringing forth only a qHD screen, albeit of the gorgeous Super AMOLED variety.

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HTC One X • HTC One S

If you’re not too hung up on the latest processor or expandable storage you could opt for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Android purists will also prefer it because of the timely software updates and the lack of custom launchers on top. It also costs considerably less than an Xperia SL whilst bringing an HD Super AMOLED screen on board with a comparable dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus I9250
Samsung Galaxy Nexus I9250

And finally, we give you the LG Optimus 4X – a quad-core Tegra 3 device with a 4.7″ True-HD IPS display of 720p resolution, which has LG’s affordable mindset behind it. It will set you back slightly less, while giving you more in terms of hardware. It also adds a microSD card slot to the equation making the choice a practical no-brainer.

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LG Optimus 4X HD P880

We think the Xperia SL has reasons to compete but coupled with an overly ambitious price tag which could prove harmful. And if you’re an owner of an Xperia S you really won’t be able to find solid grounds on which to upgrade to an Xperia SL, other than the name that is. So why go for it at all? Well, it’s a solid smartphone, has ICS right out of the box, a beautiful HD display and a potent snapper on the back.

It all comes down to the capabilities you put the most stock in. If those are timely software updates or the latest processor tech, then you’d be better off with another smartphone. But if a high-res screen and camera are all-important to you, there’s little chance you’ll regret an Xperia SL purchase.

 

 

 

Source: GSM Arena

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Sony Xperia Miro: Officially launched in India at Rs. 15,249/-

Sony Xperia Miro

Sony Xperia Miro has been available online in India since last week, the Japanese giant has officially launched the device in India yesterday, pricing it at Rs. 15,249 (MRP).

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Specifications:

Also known as Sony ST23i, Sony ST23a

General 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 900 / 2100 – ST23i
HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100 – ST23a
SIM Mini-SIM
Announced 2012, June
Status Available. Released 2012, September
Body Dimensions 113 x 59.4 x 9.9 mm (4.45 x 2.34 x 0.39 in)
Weight 110 g (3.88 oz)
– Touch-sensitive controls
Display Type LED-backlit LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 320 x 480 pixels, 3.5 inches (~165 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes, up to 2 fingers
Protection Scratch-resistant glass
– Anti-reflective coating
Sound Alert types Vibration; MP3 ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
Memory Card slot microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal 4 GB storage (2.2 GB user available), 512 MB RAM
Data GPRS Up to 86 kbps
EDGE Up to 237 kbps
Speed HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support
Camera Primary 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash,
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, 3D sweep panorama
Video Yes, VGA@30fps, continuous autofocus, video light, video stabilizer
Secondary Yes, VGA
Features OS Android OS, v4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM7225A
CPU 800 MHz Cortex-A5
GPU Adreno 200
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
Colors Black, Pink, White with silver, White with gold
– SNS integration
– MP4/H.263/H.264 player
– MP3/eAAC+/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 1500 mAh
Stand-by Up to 470 h (2G) / Up to 545 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 5 h (2G) / Up to 6 h (3G)
Music play Up to 36 h 30 min
Misc Price group Rs. 15,249/-

 

 

REVIEW:

Introduction

In a world full of phones you wish you could afford, the Sony Xperia miro is one you don’t have to wish too hard for. In honesty, Sony didn’t work themselves too hard, but when you’re putting together a portfolio from scratch, you want it built on solid foundations.

The Xperia miro is another simple package joining the ranks, filling in the blank space between the Xperia tipo and the Xperia go. The miro is a notch above the tipo, and costs an extra few bucks – Sony went about it strictly by the book without taking unnecessary risks.

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Sony Xperia miro official pictures

The looks of the Xperia go – minus the rugged treatment – with the Xperia tipo’s internals. It’s a fairly straightforward mixture that will also fill the price gap between the starter package and the rugged smartphone. Lots of choice for different budgets is the secret to a large and loyal user base.

Let’s have a look now at all the features and the possible deal-breakers.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and dual-band UMTS support
  • 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 3.5″ 16M-color LED-backlit LCD capacitive touchscreen of HVGA resolution (320 x 480 pixels) at around 165 ppi
  • Android OS v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 800 MHz Cortex-A5 CPU, Adreno 200 GPU, Qualcomm MSM7225A chipset
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 4GB of inbuilt storage (2.2GB user available)
  • microSD slot (32GB supported)
  • 5 MP autofocus camera, single LED flashlight, geotagging, smile detection, touch focus
  • VGA video @ 30fps
  • Secondary VGA front-facing camera
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery

Main disadvantages

  • Middling screen quality
  • Non-hot-swappable microSD slot
  • No hardware shutter key
  • No DivX/XviD support
  • Occasional lags in the user interface
  • Mediocre audio output

The major improvements over the Xperia tipo are the bigger LED-backlit screen, the higher-res camera and the secondary cam for video calls. The screen is the same size and resolution as the Xperia go’s but isn’t the Bravia-backed Reality display we’ve seen on a number of Sony and Sony Ericsson handsets.

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Sony Xperia miro live pictures

That and the single-core CPU, as well as the non-rugged build, has helped the Xperia miro lower the price considerably. Overall though, it’s clearly a bet on the safe side – the Xperia miro is perfectly on par with its main competitors. So let’s give this fella a chance and see what it’s really made of.

Unboxing the Xperia miro

The Xperia miro’s retail package contains only the basics. We’ve been there with the Xperia tipo – a charger and a USB cable is all you get.

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The Xperia miro retail box

There is no headset or a microSD card, though lots of fan videos on YouTube show the presence of a headset. We guess all retail boxes (unlike our review package) will come with a headset inside after all.

Sony Xperia miro dimentions

The Sony Xperia miro looks very much like the rugged Xperia go – it’s nearly the same shape and size and has similar measurements. It weighs 110 g and stands at 113 x 59.4 x 9.9 mm.

 

Sony Xperia miro design and build quality

The Sony Xperia miro returns to the signature rectangular design of the NXT line – we don’t think the rounded corners did the Xperia tipo much of a favor. The finish is simple and inexpensive but by no means of poor quality. In fact, the back of the handset doesn’t feel as coarse as on the Xperia go and the tipo, which is earning the miro a few bonus points.

The styling is very clean and simple. The trademark chin creates a very subtle bulge around back – as opposed to the perfectly flat rear panel of the Xperia go. This allows are more comfortable and secure hold, especially when you need to loosen your grip on the phone to reach all the way down to the capacitive controls below the screen.

Above the screen, a proximity sensor and a status LED are hidden within the bezel. The VGA front-facing camera is to the left of the earpiece.

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Front cam and earpiece

Below the HVGA display is the usual arrangement of three capacitive controls. The Back, Home and Menu keys are sufficiently-spaced and haptic-enabled. A tap and hold on the Home key will launch the task switcher. Right below the Home key there is a hidden status LED that glows while you charge the phone, blinks upon an incoming call and does a breathing effect as you you turn the screen on.

A dedicated app from the Google Play store will let you further customize the status LED’s behavior. It will integrate with some of the phone’s apps and offer more notifications with customizable color.

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Touch-sensitive Back, Home and Menu keys below the screen

The left side features the microUSB port. The volume rocker is at the very top on the right. The very thin single button has surprisingly good press.

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The sides of the Xperia miro

The lock/power key and the 3.5mm audio jack are at the top.

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The 3.5mm jack and power key

At the bottom we find the mic pinhole and a lanyard eyelet.

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The bottom of Xperia miro

At the back of the Sony Xperia miro we find the 5MP camera lens and the LED flash. The loudspeaker is just below the Xperia logo.

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The camera lens and the loudspeaker

The battery cover wraps around the sides of the phone and fits firmly in place, with little to no gap where the two halves meet. Underneath, the SIM and microSD slots are outside the battery compartment but are not accessible unless you remove the battery.

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A peak under the battery cover

The Xperia miro seems more than reasonably powered by a 1500 mAh battery, which is rated at up to 470 h of 2G stand-by or up to 545 h of 3G idling. Talk time stands at 5h (2G) and 6h (3G) – not too impressive but still it should be enough for a day or two.

Display

The Sony Xperia miro has the same display size and resolution as the Xperia go – a 3.5″ HVGA LED-backlit LCD unit. WVGA screens would occasionally be available in this price range, but we’re not sure the Xperia miro’s GPU would’ve coped with the higher resolution.

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Sony Xperia miro’s dislay

The image quality is nothing to talk about really. Contrast looks fine and colors are quite vibrant but there’s nothing you can do about the low resolution. Fine text is where it fails particularly bad – fonts in widgets and icon labels look bad. With no BRAVIA engine on board, you can’t enjoy the software image enhancement Sony is offering on other phones.

Here go the Xperia miro results from our traditional display tests. You can find more about the testing routines here.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia miro 0.24 235 998 0.52 515 993
HTC Desire V 0.33 340 1027 0.48 506 1054
Sony Xperia tipo 0.75 561 751
HTC Desire C 0.23 186 814 0.5 360 723
HTC One X 0.15 200 1375 0.39 550 1410
Sony Xperia U 0.35 287 831 0.55 515 930
Samsung S7500 Galaxy Ace Plus 0.27 239 873 0.6 528 888
Samsung Galaxy Pocket 0.31 238 774 0.62 468 753
Samsung Galaxy Y 0.40 247 624 0.72 471 625

Handling

The compact and lightweight Sony Xperia miro is a pleasure to handle. The rubbery finish and the subtle chin at the back provide commendable grip. The handset is well put together and the simple finish looks durable.

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The Sony Xperia miro held in hand

User interface: Ice Cream Sandwich styled by Sony

The Sony Xperia miro runs Android 4.0 out of box, just like most of the Xperia smartphones we have reviewed recently. The interface is still covered head to toe by the custom skin that Sony used to style Android ever since Gingerbread.

 

 

The Sony Xperia miro has the usual five-pane homescreen configuration, without an option to add or remove panes. There are four docked shortcuts (two on either side of the launcher shortcut). These are visible on all five homescreen panes and are user configurable: they can be either single icons or folders with multiple items in them.

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The Sony Xperia miro UI

Speaking of folders, one of the differences is that they’re now displayed a bit differently – they show thumbnails of the first four items in them. Not a major change, but gives you quick peek of what’s inside.

The homescreen does a neat trick called Overview mode. Pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new screen opens up with a cool transition. All active widgets are displayed in a type of floating cloud, and selecting one takes you to the homescreen where that widget is located.

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The Overview mode helps you find the widget you are looking for

The Xperia miro has some custom-made Sony widgets in addition to the standard set. Those include the Timescape widget (alongside its dedicated app) and a Mediascape-like widget for photos and videos (the actual app isn’t there anymore, the standard gallery is back).

Adding a widget is done through a special scrollable interface which displays all available widgets. To browse through them, you have to scroll up or down and tap on the one you want, which places it on your currently selected homescreen. To remove it, simply hold and drag the widget to the trashcan icon which appears on the bottom of the screen.

The widget selector can be a little tedious if you’re trying to go to a specific widget, but is a great way to see what you have available to you.

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Widgets menu • Selecting and adding widgets

A cool new addition to the lockscreen missing from Xperia phones of old is the music player widget, which lets you control music playback without unlocking the phone. You can also enable Face, Pattern, PIN or Password unlock, in ascending order of security.

The standard notification area is present and accounted for, although for some reason it isn’t accessible from the lockscreen as it usually is on ICS (and on other ICS-running Xperia phones).

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The lockscreen • Lockscreen options • The standard notification area

Social phonebook

The visually customized phonebook of the Xperia miro is virtually the same as on vanilla Android and can store extensive contact information. A tabbed interface allows you to access your contact list, recent calls, and info from social networking services.

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The phonebook • The quick contacts can save you a click or two • the available options

The contact list can be sorted by either first or last name. There are two contact search options – a dedicated search field on top of the contact list, and an alphabet scroll to jump to names starting with a specific letter.

Quick contacts are enabled – a tap on the contact’s photo brings up shortcuts for calling, texting or emailing the contact.

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from certain accounts (you can fine-sift specific groups from an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers or only contacts that are online.

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Filtering contacts in the phonebook

If a contact has accounts in multiple services, you can “link” their details to keep everything in one place. Their Facebook photos and interests (part of the Facebook integration) will show as extra tabs.

Each contact can have a variety of fields (and repeat fields of the same type), there’s an Add field button and the X button lets you remove fields as needed. The fields cover anything from names (including a field to write the name down phonetically) to addresses, nicknames and notes.

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Viewing and editing a contact

There is an option to redirect calls directly to voicemail, and custom ringtones are enabled too.

Capable, but quiet telephony

Receiving and making calls on the Xperia miro was trouble-free. Calls were reasonably loud and clear even in noisy environments.

The phone app features smart dialing which searches for matches in both the contacts’ phones and names. The call log is integrated in the dialer – it shows a list of recently dialed, received and missed calls in the top half of the screen and the keypad on the bottom half. Once you start typing, the call log is replaced by the smart dial list. You can hide the keypad the make more room for the call log.

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Smart dialing is available only for numbers

Thanks to the proximity sensor, the Sony Xperia miro automatically disables the touchscreen when you lift it up during a call.

We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Sony Xperia miro, and the results weren’t bad. With xLOUD turned off the phone got a Below Average mark but turning xLOUD on turns it into a whole other beast entirely. If you often miss your calls, we suggest keeping this option on at all times. More info on our loudspeaker test can be found here.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overal score
Sony Xperia sola 60.9 59.0 61.7 Below Average
Sony Xperia miro (no xLOUD) 65.0 62.1 66.6 Below Average
Sony Xperia tipo 65.7 61.7 71.8 Below Average
Apple iPhone 4S 65.8 64.5 74.6 Average
HTC Desire C 64.6 64.7 75.7 Average
Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S6500 69.7 66.6 71.5 Average
Sony Xperia miro (xLOUD) 69.7 64.6 75.9 Good
Sony Xperia Go 68.7 65.8 76.2 Good
Sony Xperia neo L 65.8 65.4 76.9 Good
Motorola RAZR XT910 74.7 66.6 82.1 Very Good
HTC Desire 76.6 75.7 84.6 Excellent

The usual messaging integration

Text messages and MMS use a standard threaded layout. Each thread is displayed as an IM chat session, with the most recent message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them against deletion.

Search is enabled to locate a specific message in all conversations and you can also activate delivery reports.

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The messaging app

Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message to an MMS.

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Composing a message • Attaching an image automatically makes it an MMS

Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there’s no unified inbox for other email services.

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Gmail app supports batch operations and multiple (Gmail) accounts

However, the generic email app can do that as well. It can handle multiple POP or IMAP accounts and you have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online.

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The generic Email client has a combined inbox option

Google Talk handles Instant Messaging. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.

As for text input, the Xperia miro offers a customized on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. Typing on the portrait keyboard is not as convenient as on some of the larger screens seen in the Xperia line, but is still fairly comfortable.

Flipping the phone to landscape gives you even bigger, easier to press buttons.

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Xperia miro keyboard

You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn’t give you the desired typing speed. It works the same as Swype, and even if you’ve never used Swype input before, you’ll quickly get used to it.

The Album gallery is here

The Xperia miro comes with the new Sony gallery, called Album, which is now available on most Ice Cream Sandwich Xperia smartphones.

It has a whole new interface where images are arranged into stacks of thumbnails and sorted by date. You can also opt to show all of your albums in one place. There are three tabs above the stacks – Pictures, Map and Online.

Pictures is the main tab – you can use pinch gestures to make the thumbnails bigger or smaller. Map reminds us of the iOS gallery, where all pictures with a Geo-tag are shown on a map of the world.

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The Album gallery

The Online tab uses pictures from the connected online services – Google Picasa, Facebook, etc. You have options to tag, like and comment on Facebook photos much like you did with the previous Xperia Gallery.

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Geo-tagging in the Album gallery

Images in both galleries can be cropped or rotated. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also enabled.

Video player leaves much to be desired

Sony has added a new video player as well. It’s dubbed Movies and it too has a completely redesigned interface. It’s connected to Gracenote, which helps you find additional information about the movies you have preloaded.

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Watching a video on the Xperia miro

Codec support is almost non-existent – you can play MP4 and 3GP files. DivX and XviD videos were a no go and so were AVI files.

You can download a video player off the Google Play Store with support for more video codecs but chances of getting a video (one not shot with the phone itself) to play smoothly are pretty slim.

Walkman player

Coming to complete the trio of redesigned Sony apps is the new Walkman music player. It retains all the functionality of the older music players but adds a little bit extra here and there.

It is divided into Playing and My music panels.

In the My music section, you can update your album art and music information like album, year, and more. SensMe is included, meaning you can filter your songs by type – upbeat, energetic, mellow, dance, etc. Creating playlists is enabled and you can also view your Facebook buddies’ activity if they too use the Walkman player.

The Now Playing screen offers the standard music controls, shortcuts to the library, “Infinity” key and the song cover art. The Infinity key lets you quickly look up a song on YouTube or browse for the lyrics, among others.

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The Walkman music player

Currently, the only available visualization is the album art.

Finally, the Walkman player offers support for customizable equalizer settings, giving die-hard audiophiles the chance to fiddle around with the individual EQ bands.

While the rest of the music player is the same as what we saw on Sony Ericsson handsets, this one adds music controls to the lockscreen. They replace the clock, which might be annoying if you just want to check the time. Still, the clock slides out of view, so you have about a second to see what time it is (or just look at the small clock in the upper right corner).

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Music player controls on the lockscreen and notification area

FM radio with RDS and TrackID

The Sony Xperia miro is equipped with an FM radio, which has a neat and simple interface. It automatically scans the area for the available stations and places “notches” on the frequency dial for easier scrolling to the next station. There’s a Force mono option to use in case of poor reception.

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The FM radio app • TrackID

The TrackID service is also available and works within the radio app. You can even like a song on Facebook.

Mediocre audio quality

Unfortunately, the Sony Xperia miro shares its audio-related internals with the Xperia tipo. This means that you’d be getting rather uninspiring output, and pretty low volume levels.

When connected to an active external amplifier the Xperia miro got only average scores, and imperfect frequency response. All this combined with the poor volume adds up to a mediocre overall performance.

The good news is there’s little degradation when headphones come into play. Stereo crosstalk rises only a little, but since it was quite high to begin with, you are only left with an average reading. The distortion levels remain under control and better than many other smartphones we have seen, but the rest of the readings are still only average and the volume levels leave lots to be desired.

And here come the full results so you can see them for yourselves:

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Sony Xperia miro +0.13, -1.28 -75.4 77.5 0.019 0.098 -76.9
Sony Xperia miro (headphones attached) +0.50, -0.85 -75.5 77.4 0.021 0.144 -65.9
Sony Xperia tipo +0.12, -1.22 -75.9 78.2 0.018 0.119 -79.1
Sony Xperia tipo (headphones attached) +0.43, -0.85 -76.0 78.1 0.020 0.154 -52.4
Sony Xperia go +0.03, -0.05 -86.7 87.0 0.0084 0.019 -87.3
Sony Xperia go (headphones attached) +0.44, -0.10 -84.8 85.3 0.421 0.364 -71.7
Sony Xperia U +0.03, -0.04 -87.3 87.5 0.0091 0.020 -87.7
Sony Xperia sola +0.03, -0.04 -81.6 82.2 0.085 0.185 -83.5
Sony Xperia sola (headphones attached) +0.45, -0.10 -81.8 81.8 0.189 0.416 -52.8
Sony Xperia U (headphones attached) +0.45, -0.10 -86.4 86.6 0.393 0.352 -66.5
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160 +0.20, -0.27 -88.7 87.6 0.0086 0.018 -88.9
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160 (headphones attached) +0.37, -0.08 -88.6 87.6 0.044 0.221 -57.9
Samsung S7500 Galaxy Ace Plus +0.14, -1.30 -88.2 88.1 0.010 0.065 -84.1
Samsung S7500 Galaxy Ace Plus (headphones attached) +0.12, -1.12 -86.0 88.1 0.018 0.186 -43.1

Sony Xperia miro
Sony Xperia miro frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Camera is as plain as it gets

The Xperia miro has a 5 megapixel auto-focus snapper and coupled with a single LED flash. It’s capable of producing stills with a resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels.

The camera interface features two taskbars on either side of the viewfinder. On the left you get four shortcuts to various settings, while the still camera/camcorder toggle, the virtual shutter and a thumbnail of the last photo taken are on the right.

The menu key brings up two pages of extra settings – scenes, resolution, smile detection, geotagging, image stabilization and focus mode among others. You can customize three of the shortcuts on the left (the shooting mode shortcut is fixed).

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Sony Xperia Miro Sony Xperia Miro
The new camera interface

There are five capture modes to choose from: Normal, Scene recognition, Sweep Panorama, Sweep Multi Angle and 3D Sweep Panorama. In Normal, you pick the Scene settings manually or you can enable Scene recognition and let the Xperia miro take a guess.

The 3D Sweep Panorama is business as usual – you press the shutter key and pan the phone across the scene. The resulting panoramic photo can be viewed in both 2D and 3D (on a compatible TV).

The Sweep Multi Angle is much more impressive – you take a photo in the exact same way, but the result is very different. It produces something like a lenticular card, providing a different perspective when viewed at an angle.

The Xperia miro has the megapixel count to be considered a decent cameraphone but not the image quality to back that up. Images come out overly contrasty with low levels of detail while colors have a bluish tint. Noise levels aren’t too bad, but to achieve them the miro applies overly aggressive noise reduction, which eradicates a lot of fine detail.

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Sony Xperia miro camera samples

Overall, the Xperia miro is a major step back from other 5 MP Xperia smartphones like the sola, U, go, etc.

Image quality comparison

The standard test shots from the Xperia miro are in our Photo Compare Tool database. We’ve aligned it against the Xperia sola and the Desire C but you’re free to pit it against the large number of available devices we’ve tested.

Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool
Sony Xperia miro in our Photo Compare Tool

Okay video recording

The Sony Xperia miro captures VGA video at around 25 fps, which is all we can expect out of a single-core processor and a 5MP camera.

The camcorder has the same interface as the still camera and some of the same settings.

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Sony Xperia Miro Sony Xperia Miro
Switching to camcorder mode

Videos are recorded in MP4 files with a bitrate of 2 Mbps and stereo AAC sound (133Kbps, 48kHz). The resolved detail isn’t great, as expected from a VGA shooter, but at least the videos are smooth. Sadly, once again, the colors are off more often than not.

 

Basic connectivity

The Sony Xperia miro has quad-band 2G and dual-band 3G. Mobile data speeds are boosted by 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 5.76Mbps HSUPA.

Local connectivity is covered by Wi-Fi b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct with DLNA, USB on the Go support, and there’s also Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP on hand.

The miro comes with Sony’s Smart Connect manager, which can be set to perform certain actions whenever a accessory is connected, or during certain times of the day. For instance, you can set it to start the music application whenever headphones are plugged in, or set the phone to silent at night.

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Smart Connect gives you some cool automation options

Android browser

One of the biggest advantages that the Sony Xperia miro gets from running Android ICS is the updated web browser. This browser has a streamlined interface, incognito browsing and other cool features.

The browser interface is quite minimalistic; all you get is a URL bar with a tabs shortcut. Hitting the Menu key gives you more options – Refresh, Forward, Save to bookmarks, Share page, Find on page, full settings and a couple of more – Request desktop site (no more hunting for that “Desktop” option buried at the bottom of the site) and Save for offline reading.

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The web browser has been redesigned

The full settings menu includes some really interesting options. For example, you can set your search engine to Yahoo or Bing, you can adjust text size and the level of which double tap will zoom in.

The browser borrows several features from its desktop counterpart. For example, when searching for something, if the browser is confident you’ll click on a certain search result, it will start preloading that page right away so that it opens faster if you do click it. You can set this feature to work over Wi-Fi only to preserve data.

The other trick is Incognito mode – there’s no global setting, but you can open individual Incognito tabs.

Speaking of tabs, the tab switching interface looks exactly like in the Recent apps list. You can even close tabs by swiping them off the screen.

Quick controls (available from the Labs settings) reveal five controls (New tab, Tabs, URL, Bookmarks, More) when you slide your finger in from the side. Those really improve the browser experience. Another cool feature from Labs is Full screen, which squeezes out a little more screen real estate by hiding the status bar.

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The Quick controls

Flash is not available on the Xperia miro. In order to use it and watch Flash videos you’ll need to side-load the Adobe Flash player from somewhere.

Great organizational tools

The Sony Xperia miro comes with a solid set of organizing options, including a document viewer.

The app in question is the OfficeSuite viewer and it has support for viewing document files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF, including the Office 2007 versions). If you want edit as well as view, the Pro version (a $15/€13 update) can do that.

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The OfficeSuite document viewer

Reading documents is reasonably comfortable and panning is blazing fast. There’s built-in file browser and cloud storage integration (Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and SugarSync).

Tap on the Manage my files button and you get into the full-blown file browser. It can do all the basic stuff (new folder, copy, delete, etc.), plus batch operations, search for files and ZIP multiple files and folders.

The calendar has three different types of view – daily, weekly and monthly. The lower section of the screen is reserved for a list of upcoming events. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.

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The organizer centerpiece – the calendar

The Calendar also pulls info on upcoming events from your Facebook account. Facebook events appear just like regular calendar entries but you can’t edit them on the phone, they are read-only.

There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized – the buttons are really big and easy to hit. You can expand advanced functions (trigonometry, logarithms).

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Regular Calculator • Scientific Calculator

The alarm clock app supports multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The Alarms app can also work as a desk clock – you have a big toggle for the brightness, as well as weather info and shortcuts to gallery slideshow and the music player. There’s no world clock, stopwatch or timer though.

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The Clock • Creating alarm

Finally, the Sony Power Saver app lets you automate certain power saving functions for your device, such as whether to dim the display or disable certain connectivity features when the battery falls below a certain level.

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The Power Saver app

Offline Google Maps and navigation

The Sony Xperia miro comes with a GPS receiver, which took about a minute to get satellite lock upon a cold start. You can use the A-GPS functionality to get near instantaneous locks. Alternatively, network positioning will do if you only need a rough idea of your location.

Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and we’ve covered it many times before. It offers voice-guided navigation in certain countries and falls back to a list of instructions elsewhere.

3D buildings are shown for some of the bigger cities and you can use two-finger camera tilt and rotate to get a better view of the area.

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Google Maps

Google Maps uses vector maps, which are very data efficient. The latest version has an easy to use interface for caching maps – you just choose “Make available offline from the menu” and pan/zoom around until the desired area is in view (there’s an indicator showing how much storage caching that area will take). You can later view cached areas and delete ones you no longer need.

Note that there’s a limit to the size of the area you can cache – you can’t just make the entire United States available offline, not even a single state. We managed to fit New York and some surrounding area before Maps told us the area is too big. Also, there’s no address search in the cached maps and you can only cache map data in supported regions of the world.

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Making an area of the map available for offline usage is very easy

You can plan routes, search for nearby POI and go into the always cool Street View. The app will reroute you if you get off course, even without a data connection.

Google Play meets all your needs

The Sony Xperia miro runs ICS, so it has access to most of the latest apps, but the limited amount of app storage means you’ll need to be careful with large apps or move a lot of the apps to a microSD card.

The Store is organized in a few scrollable tabs – categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. The in-app section is untouched though and it’s very informative – a description, latest changes, number of downloads and comments with rating. There are usually several screenshots of the app in action, and oftentimes a demo video as well.

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The Google Play Store

There are all kinds of apps in the Google Play Store and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.), so if you wish you could do something more with your phone, odds are it’s in the app store.

 

Final words

The Sony Xperia miro is made exactly by the book – just not sure whose book it is. It seems all major manufacturers have near identical offers in the Android low-end. And while Sony is only catching up, some makers have had the time to perfect the entry-level smartphone concept.

To be fair to the Xperia miro though, it’s on the spot considering the most recent competitors in this price range, and it looks no worse than most – however subjective that is.

The HTC Desire comes with ICS of course and has the same screen size and resolution. It’s marginally more compact though, which is mostly down to less screen bezel – and no fancy status LED. The processor is the same, only clocked lower at 600 MHz. More importantly though, the two are very well built and equally comfortable to use. The current pricing is slightly in the Desire C’s favor.

HTC Desire C
HTC Desire C

The LG Optimus L5 is based on the same MSM7225A chipset, but costs a bit less than the Xperia miro and comes with a bigger 4″ display. The bigger screen is not a clear-cut advantage though considering the resolution stays the same. The rest of the specs are identical, from the OS version to the imaging capabilities.

LG Optimus L5 E610
LG Optimus L5 E610

As usual, Samsung aren’t short of options in this class either. The Xperia miro finds itself tightly squeezed between the Galaxy Ace Plus and the Galaxy Mini 2. None of them has ICS though – Samsung promised JB updates, but did not say when.

Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S6500 Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus S7500
Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S6500 • Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus S7500

Entry level smartphones will be enjoying increasing demand and no maker can afford to not do anything about it. Starting strong with the NXT line, it seemed one possible route for Sony was to maintain a small but focused portfolio around the upper midrange. Exactly what HTC were doing at one point. Look at them now – they have generations of entry-level droids and are no stranger to dual SIMs.

So Sony too recognized the need to spread its portfolio wider. Entry-level and low-end smartphones are not exciting stuff but they end up in many pockets through carriers. To people in the know, who are willing to go SIM-free, the Xperia U is an absolute no-brainer, offering a dual-core CPU, a high-res screen and HD videos for the price of an Xperia miro.

Sony Xperia U
Sony Xperia U

That’s not how this game is played though and manufacturers know it. They’re keen to bring new players in and entry-level handsets like the Xperia miro are the invitation. Borrowing and mixing DNA from the Xperia go and the tipo, Sony have filled the price gap between the two – and given potential users more choice. As things look though at this point, the choice in the Android low-end boils down to brands, not specs.

 

 

Courtesy: GSM Arena

Compare Latest HTC Desire V Vs Galexy S Duos

Compare Latest

HTC Desire V Vs Galexy S Duos

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RATINGS REVIEWS & PRICE

HTC Desire V

HTC Desire V

HTC Desire V

Screen Size: 4.0 inches (~233 ppi pixel density)

Speed: 1 GHz

Internal Memory: 4GB, 512MB RAM

OS: Android 4.04 ICS

Average User Rating 7.5

 15,999 onwards

Samsung Galaxy S Duos (GT-S7562)

Samsung Galaxy S Duos (GT-S7562)

Samsung Galaxy S Duos (GT-S7562)

Screen Size: 4.0 inches

Speed: 1 GHz

Internal Memory: 4GB, 768MB RAM

OS: Android 4.0.4 ICS

Average User Rating 8.7

 16,199 onwards

Display
Form Factor Bar Bar
Screen Type Capacitive touchscreen TFT capacitive touchscreen
Screen Size 4.0 inches (~233 ppi pixel density) 4.0 inches
Screen Resolution 480 x 800 480 x 800
Number of Colours 16M 16M
Processor
Processor Cortex-A5 Cortex-A5
Speed 1 GHz 1 GHz
Memory
Internal Memory 4GB, 512MB RAM 4GB, 768MB RAM
Extendable Memory microSD, up to 32 GB microSD, up to 32 GB
Camera Features
Sensor Resolution 5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels
Features Geo-tagging
Video resolution / frame rate 640 x 480 / 30fps
Video Recording
Front facing camera 0.3 MP
General Features
OS Android Android
Version 4.0 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
FM Radio
Bluetooth Features Yes, v3.0 with A2DP Yes, v3.0 with A2DP
Dual Sim Support
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email SMS, MMS, E-mail
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support Yes, with A-GPS support
USB Connector
Available Colours Black, White White
Carrier Networks
2G GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G HSDPA 900 / 2100 HSDPA 900 / 2100
Speed HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
Data
GPRS
EGPRS or EDGE
WiFi Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Body
Dimensions 118.5 x 62.3 x 9.3 mm 121.5 x 63.1 x 10.5 mm
Weight (grams) 114 grams 120
Sound
Media Player Music formats: aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
– Video formats: 3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3)
Music formats: MP3, eAAC+, WMA, WAV
– Video formats: MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV
Alert Tone Vibration, MP3, WAV Vibration, MP3, WAV
Speakerphone
Audio connector 3.5 mm 3.5 mm
Battery
Type Li-Ion Li-Ion
Capacity (mAh) 1650 mAh 1500
Miscellaneous Features
Built in Applications Google Search
– Maps
– Gmail
– YouTube
– Calendar
– Google Talk
After Sales Service
Warranty Period 1 Year 1 Year

Video Reviews:

Nokia Lumia Series 4: Nokia Lumia 900

Nokia Lumia 900

Nokia and Microsoft introduce their flagship phone, but is it enough to get back in the game?

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The HSPA+ variant of Nokia’s Lumia 900 was made for Europe and the rest of the world in mind. The Lumia 900 includes a 1.4GHz CPU with 512MB RAM, an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, and a 4.3-inch AMOLED display.

It occurred to me that the Lumia 900 review would be one of the more important critiques of a product that I write this year. For those of you who don’t know the backstory here, the new LTE-equipped, AT&T-bound smartphone represents what could be the beginning of a new era for both Microsoft and its partner Nokia in the mobile race — at least in the US. The 900 is a culmination of all of Microsoft’s work with Windows Phone 7 (now 7.5), and Nokia’s hardware design and execution, packaged in the hopes that the American consumer will suddenly notice that not only does Windows Phone exist, but it’s worth buying into.

Even AT&T has gotten into the spirit, claiming launch expectations that seem to far exceed the warranted excitement over this phone. But it is an attractive offering in many ways. Stylistically the Lumia 900 looks like nothing on the market. It offers LTE service that — where you can get it — is shockingly fast. And most importantly, the top-tier, flagship device is being offered at a wildly discounted price: just $99.99 for new subscribers.

So does the phone have what it takes to court buyers away from Android and iOS, and establish a beachhead for Microsoft and Nokia? I’ll unravel those questions in the review below.

Video Review

Hardware / design

THIS IS THE NOKIA I GREW UP WITH!

The Lumia 900 is a gorgeous device. It’s beautiful. It may be the best looking phone on the market right now. It’s a monolithic device — a slab of high-test polycarbonate with little more than a display and a handful of slit-like, silver buttons. Its smooth, matte plastic is shaped to appear rather rectangular from the front, but has subtle curves around the edges which give it a satisfying feel in your hands. The design is nearly identical to the Meego-based N9, and its predecessor Lumia 800, so even though it will be new to many, it’s not the first of its kind. Still, in a world dominated by lookalike Android phones and a single iPhone, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air.

THE LUMIA LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE NOTHING ELSE ON THE MARKET

Not only is the physical design of the phone different, but so is its coloring. I tested a bright cyan version of the phone (it comes in white and black as well), and I found the stark color extremely pleasing. In fact, it reminded me of how stale and lacking in playfulness industrial design has become in this industry.

The Lumia measures 2.7 inches across by 5.03 inches up and down, and is 0.45 inches thick (comparatively, the iPhone 4S is 0.37 inches in thickness). It’s not the smallest or thinnest device on the market, but it never comes off as oversized or chubby. There’s a small speaker along the very flat bottom of the phone, and a headphone jack, Micro USB port, and SIM door at the top. Along the right side are the device’s volume, power / sleep, and camera buttons.

I really like the design and materials on the 900, and for once I have very little to complain about. I will say that the door which needs to be popped open to insert a SIM does settle back into the top of the phone a little shakily at first, but it does eventually seem to go back to a flush line.

In all, it’s a fantastic piece of technology. It just looks and feels like nothing else on the market. It hits all the right notes for me. A little bit retro, a little bit futuristic, with just a touch of quirky humanity in its otherwise very machined design. This is the Nokia I grew up with, and it’s clear the company hasn’t lost its ability to enchant through hardware.

Internals and display

THE SPECS DON’T EXACTLY MAKE THIS DEVICE FUTURE-PROOF

Inside, the Lumia 900 packs a single-core Snapdragon system-on-a-chip clocked to 1.4GHz, 512MB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage (which is not upgradable). The device has the requisite LTE and GSM radios onboard, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.

The display on the front of the device is a 4.3-inch, 800 x 480 AMOLED “ClearBlack” screen, fronted by Corning’s now-famous Gorilla Glass. Unlike the Lumia 800 and N9, the display is slightly raised on the phone instead of flush with the surface. There’s also a 1-megapixel camera embedded above the display, as well as an 8-megapixel shooter with a dual LED flash and Carl Zeiss optics on the back of the phone.

The specs are unremarkable, but performance on the phone was not. Just as with other Windows Phones I’ve tested, the Lumia was snappy and responsive, with few (if any) hiccups or pauses — but more on that later.

On the other hand, I’m disappointed by the display on the Lumia. Besides being lower in resolution than competitive devices (new Android phones at 1280 x 720 and the iPhone at 960 x 640), I felt colors were far too saturated. This is a pretty common problem with AMOLED screens, but the issue seems pronounced on the Lumia 900 thanks to the starkness of the Windows Phone interface. Combined with the lower resolution display (which is particularly notable with white text against that black background), the effect is jarring.

I’m not saying that the Lumia 900 is underpowered, but a single-core processor, lower resolution display, and half the RAM of its nearest competition doesn’t exactly make this device future-proof.

Camera

IT’S NOT THAT THE IMAGES WERE PARTICULARLY BAD — THEY JUST WEREN’T PARTICULARLY GOOD

Nokia has a long history of packing terrific optics into its devices, so you would expect that the Lumia would excel in this area. I’m sad to report that it does not.

On the device I tested, the rear camera was capable of producing fine photos, though generally the 900 shot somewhat grainy and very washed out images. It’s not that those images were particularly bad — they just weren’t particularly good. Though the company touts Carl Zeiss optics, I didn’t see anything in my results that belied fairly standard smartphone picture-taking capabilities. In fact, the camera software seemed to have real trouble in some settings, with white balance and exposure out of whack compared to my expectations.

Additionally, the Lumia 900 produces those dreaded, faint pink spots in the center of the display — particularly visible on bright white surfaces — that we’ve seen on countless phones. It’s not the kind of thing you’d notice in most photos, but you can definitely see a discoloration that shouldn’t be there.

Now keep in mind, my daily driver is a Galaxy Nexus, which has a relatively poor camera — so this is significant. I went into the Lumia 900 expecting an excellent photo experience, but it’s really simply mediocre. That’s too bad, because there aren’t many phones on the market that can snap great looking photos, and given Microsoft’s insistence that Windows Phone is a pro at quickly capturing important moments, this is a place where this phone could have shined.

Battery life, data, phone, and performance

THE LUMIA IS MORE THAN CAPABLE OF HANDLING ANYTHING YOU THROW AT IT

I was very pleasantly surprised by the battery life of the Lumia. Going into an LTE phone review, I tend to have fairly low expectations for battery performance, but the 900 proved itself as a viable option for a full day’s work. According to Nokia, you can expect about 7 hours of talk time on the phone. Now, I don’t really spend that much time talking, but I was happy to report that getting through a typical day of calls, lots of email, Twitter, and web browsing was no problem — even on a fairly constant LTE connection. Furthermore, in our brute force rundown test (continuous YouTube while connected to both Wi-Fi and LTE, max screen brightness, and max volume) I got 4 hours and 43 minutes. Compared to the HSPA+ One X’s 4:22, I’d say that’s pretty good.

Data performance was pretty awesome on the Lumia 900 — when I was in range of LTE, of course. I’ve been over the moon about Verizon’s LTE service (see the ridiculous speeds I got while testing the iPad), and AT&T’s early showing suggests a match for its rival. In good coverage areas, I saw download speeds as high as 19Mbps, with upstream hovering around 3 or 4Mbps. Of course, those did fluctuate wildly, and AT&T’s network still has yet to be built out to full capacity. It probably also doesn’t hurt that almost no one is using the company’s “real” 4G network.

Phone calls were crisp and clear on the handset. I’m happy to say that during my testing, I didn’t have a single dropped call. That could be luck, but I’m hoping it’s not. The speakerphone worked well on the Lumia 900, though I thought it sounded a bit sharp for my ears, and not quite as loud as I would have liked. Compared to my annoyingly quiet Galaxy Nexus, however, it might as well have been a PA system.

As far as general performance is concerned, as I said in the hardware section, the Lumia is more than capable of handling anything you throw at it. Of course, what you throw at it is tightly bound by the Windows Phone way of doing things, which all but ensures that there’s never too much going on at once. If I had to speculate, I would say it’s the stringent methodology of this OS that allows it to seem smooth and stable during the majority of use. Quite simply, Microsoft isn’t letting these phones bite off more than they can chew.

That comes with a price, however, and it brings me to…

Software

I THINK IT’S TIME TO STOP GIVING WINDOWS PHONE A PASS

Let me just put this bluntly: I think it’s time to stop giving Windows Phone a pass. I think it’s time to stop talking about how beautifully designed it is, and what a departure it’s been for Microsoft, and how hard the company is working to add features. I am very aware of the hard work and dedication Microsoft has put into this platform, but at the end of the day, Windows Phone is just not as competitive with iOS and Android as it should be right now.

Before you cry foul, keep in mind that I went into this review wanting to fall madly in love with this phone. But like a book with a beautiful jacket and a plot full of holes, I found myself wanting more. A lot more.

The problems with Windows Phone are myriad, many small. But it’s a death by a thousand cuts. And all those little problems were once again immediately apparent to me the moment I started using the Lumia 900.

DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS

The most glaring issues also happen to be some of the oldest issues — things you think at this point would have been dealt with. Scrolling in third party apps, for instance, is still completely erratic. I would blame this on developers, but given that this platform has been around for nearly two years, I think that’s a cop out. In new Twitter apps like Carbon, lists of messages will sometimes disappear or skip weirdly when scrolling. I first complained about this in version 1 of Windows Phone, and I thought it had been squashed — it has not.

Elsewhere there are missteps. Though Microsoft has added some form of multitasking to the OS, there is nearly never a feeling that apps in the “background” are actually still waiting for you. In fact, many apps still deliver a splash screen to you when you reenter them — if this is a developer issue, then I guess most of the hardworking coders on this platform never got the memo. In short, it kind of sucks to use. Where iOS and Android at least feel responsive in packing and unpacking background apps, Windows Phone often comes across as broken and limp.

Other issues nag me. In the browser, webpages are often displayed incorrectly as IE seems incapable of rendering certain web elements properly. The Verge, for instance, lacks its colored panels in the top stories section, and TypeKit fonts aren’t properly displayed. Neither iOS nor the new Chrome browser for Android have this issue. Then there are menus to consider — in many applications, options to navigate are often hidden beneath long presses, meaning that most users will never know how to do simple things like delete a single text message from their inbox.

Microsoft offers Twitter integration, but it’s so clunky, it would almost be better to not include it at all. The phone will show you that you’ve been Tweeted at, but in order to view the actual Tweet you have to tap into your “Me” tile, swipe to your notification list, then tap on each individual message to see it. How anyone at Microsoft thought this would help you get “in, out, and back to life” is a mystery to me.

And all of this is to say nothing of the third party app offerings on the platform. Besides the fact that there is a serious dearth of good software for the OS, even in places where you would expect Windows Phone to excel, it lags. Gaming for instance.

At this point, one would think that the Xbox Live offerings would hold their own against game titles for Android or iOS, but even the most advanced games seem at least a generation behind other platforms in terms of complexity. Furthermore, there’s still slim pickings when it comes to titles, with launch offerings from October of 2010 still topping the charts in the Marketplace.

Elsewhere, software is largely a mishmash of fair-to-middling offerings. The design language of Windows Phone seems to present a real problem to developers on the platform, and most third party titles go off the rails badly. Additionally, there’s little in the way of familiar apps, though there are bright spots, like the Rdio app which now thankfully is capable of playing audio in the background (which wasn’t possible before the recent Mango update), and is actually quite a beautiful piece of software.

There’s also a new Twitter app called Rowi which is probably the best experience you can have on Windows Phone with the social networking service — it’s a really well thought out and well made application.

And it’s glimmers like that here which frustrate me. Because there is some really great DNA in this operating system, and it’s obviously possible to produce great software and great user experiences. It’s just too few and far between to have impact at this point.

Don’t misunderstand me, Windows Phone offers some very good experiences in its core apps, and it’s probably the most gorgeous and cohesive piece of software Microsoft has ever released. But after nearly two years on the market, I struggled to find a single thing this platform could do better than Android 4.0 or iOS 5.1.

The sheen has worn off of Windows Phone for me. When I put something in my pocket, it needs to be able to quickly and efficiently get things done. It needs to trump other devices in its class. It needs to be the best — and Windows Phone is far from it at this point.

I REALLY WANTED TO LOVE THIS PHONE, BUT WHILE THE HARDWARE DELIVERS, THE DEVICE AS A WHOLE DOES NOT

I’ve already said this, but it bears repeating. I really wanted to love this phone. From a design standpoint, the Lumia 900 was immediately enticing. I’d already been salivating over Nokia’s N9 and Lumia 800, so knowing that a slightly larger (but more feature packed) version of that device was headed our way was fairly encouraging. But while the hardware — at least externally — delivers, the phone as a whole does not.

I think Nokia made a lot of the right decisions, but it’s almost impossible to move beyond some of Windows Phone’s shortcomings this late in the game. Try as I might to envision the Lumia 900 as my daily driver, the math never added up. There’s just too much missing, or too much that feels unfulfilling.

I used to get upset that Android didn’t have a cohesive design language, and iOS was lacking basic functionality like copy and paste or multitasking — but most of those complaints have been put to bed. Today I might complain about a lack of widgets or a skin I don’t like, but I’m not griping about fundamental pieces of an OS. And I think that’s what’s so trying about Windows Phone.

These aren’t minor gripes I have — they speak to the foundations of this OS. My annoyances aren’t just about the color choices in the calendar, they’re about whether or not scrolling in apps functions as it should, or if I’ll get important updates in the background. Can I use IRC without breaking my connection every time I leave the app? How many steps does it take to get to the information I need? Do webpages display properly? Will the apps I need or want to use make it to this platform, and will they be any good when they get there?

In some ways, I feel like I’m reviewing a webOS device again (but with much, much nicer hardware). There are all these wonderful ideas at play, but it’s impossible to look past the nagging bugs and missing features.

Of course, there are users out there that will embrace this phone. It is generally easy and pleasant to use, and the low price point, coupled with the beautiful hardware and solid LTE service could be persuasive. But for me and most of the people I know, there’s still something missing here, and until Microsoft and Nokia figure out what that is, Windows Phone will continue to struggle upstream.

GOOD 

  • Incredible hardware design
  • OS is snappy and responsive
  • LTE data is speedy
  • Great entry price

BAD 

  • Windows Phone still has lots of issues
  • Third-party app offerings are weak
  • Specs feel last generation
  • Camera underwhelming

Specifications:

Also known as Nokia Lumia 900 RM-823

GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
SIM Micro-SIM
Announced 2012, February
Status Available. Released 2012, May
BODY Dimensions 127.8 x 68.5 x 11.5 mm, 90 cc (5.03 x 2.70 x 0.45 in)
Weight 160 g (5.64 oz)
DISPLAY Type AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 4.3 inches (~217 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass
– Nokia ClearBlack display
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 16GB storage, 512 MB RAM
DATA GPRS Class 33
EDGE Class 33
Speed HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, dual-LED flash, check quality
Features Geo-tagging
Video Yes, 720p@30fps, video stabilization, check quality
Secondary Yes, 1 MP, VGA@15fps
FEATURES OS Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
Chipset Qualcomm APQ8055 Snapdragon
CPU 1.4 GHz Scorpion
GPU Adreno 205
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support and GLONASS
Java No
Colors Black, cyan, white, magenta
– SNS integration
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
– Document viewer/editor
– Video/photo editor
– Voice memo/command/dial
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Standard battery, Li-Ion 1830 mAh (BP-6EW)
Stand-by Up to 300 h (2G) / Up to 300 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 7 h (2G) / Up to 7 h (3G)
Music play Up to 60 h
MISC SAR US 1.29 W/kg (head)     0.95 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 1.33 W/kg (head)
Price group About Rs. 31,000/-
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal) / 2.562:1 (sunlight)
Loudspeaker Voice 70dB / Noise 68dB / Ring 75dB
Camera Photo / Video
Battery life Endurance rating 38h

Nokia Lumia Series 3: Lumia 800 Nokia’s first flagship Windows Phone device

LUMIA 800:

NOKIA’S FIRST FLAGSHIP WINDOWS PHONE DEVICE

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Reviewing the Lumia 800 is a hard and, dare I say, unprecedented task. Never before have we seen a phone like Nokia’s N9 — a benchmark setter in some design aspects, yet a complete dead end in terms of software ecosystem — and now the 800 arrives ensconced in a nearly identical physical body. How do you begin to grade a device that feels, superficially at least, like a cuckoo — a parasite occupying the shell that rightfully belongs to another? Well, you probably start by dispensing with such romantic notions and treating the Nokia Lumia 800 as what it is: a Windows Phone 7.5 handset with a competitive, if unremarkable, spec sheet and the full backing of Nokia’s engineering, development, and marketing might.

The similarities shared between Nokia’s Harmattan and Windows Phone devices aren’t actually the most pertinent topic of inquiry here. What will truly matter to end users of the Lumia 800 is how much of an upgrade this new flagship phone represents relative to previous, Symbian-powered generations of Nokia hardware and, potentially, the rest of the current Windows Phone crop. Whether you’re actively contemplating jumping aboard the good ship Microkia or just a curious onlooker, read on for all the answers.

VIDEO REVIEW

Video review

HARDWARE / DESIGN

THE EFFORTLESS GRACE OF THE N9′S DESIGN HAS BEEN REPRODUCED WITH THE LUMIA 800

Photographing the Lumia 800 is an exercise in deja vu. Except for the addition of a dedicated camera key, the relocation of the dual-LED flash, and the introduction of capacitive Windows Phone keys up front, this is the N9. I’d usually be first to protest if a company decides to recycle a design quite so flagrantly, but in this case, it’s more a matter of why wouldn’t you? My lasting impression of the N9′s case was that it was akin to Apple’s unibody MacBook Pro — so tantalizingly close to perfection as to make you wonder where future upgrades could possibly come from. Three years after its introduction, that MBP design is still going strong and Nokia should have to make no apologies for sticking with a similarly splendid piece of engineering.

The Lumia 800 / N9 design ethos is all about effortless simplicity for the user, but it’s backed by a stupefying amount of calculation, modeling, and testing behind the scenes. What you see and feel in your hand is a seamless piece of soft-touch plastic, curved on all sides and gently tapering toward flattened-out top and bottom surfaces, fronted by a curved screen. It’s natural and pleasant to the touch, with great ergonomics and weight balance — the diametric opposite of the cold and impersonal appearance of most modern technology. Being able to meld that aggressively minimalist monobody design with a fully functional smartphone is where Nokia’s manufacturing chops really shine through.

IT’S NATURAL AND PLEASANT TO THE TOUCH, WITH GREAT ERGONOMICS AND WEIGHT BALANCE

Perfection does elude the Lumia 800, however, and it’s almost entirely down to the few physical keys this phone is adorned with. Its right side plays host to a volume rocker, a power / lock button, and a dedicated camera key, neither of which does a great job of what are typically routine tasks. The volume rocker and lock button sit too close to one another and are almost flush with the phone’s side, making for difficult tactile recognition. They’re also a bit loose and generate an innocuous, though irritating, rattle when you move the 800 around. The shutter release button is better: it’s firmer and more pronounced, has more travel, and reacts to pressure without a definite click at the bottom (something that can introduce motion blur in the resulting photos). The latter is a good thing for camera results, but it’s less intuitive from a user perspective. While I’m bemoaning buttons, it’s arguable that the Windows Phone capacitive trifecta under the screen is a little too close to the touchscreen, leading to some unintentional taps.

Nokia is sticking to the three color options introduced with the N9 — black, cyan and magenta, all featuring a soft matte finish — with each of those being the hue of the actual polymer the phone is built out of. That means no matter how deeply you may scratch the Lumia 800, it’ll maintain the same consistent color. It’d actually be quite the challenge to force any nicks or scuffs to appear on this handset as that polycarbonate stuff it’s made of is deceptively strong and resistant to abrasions. The same can’t be said of the elliptical metal plate built into the center of its back — finished to a mirror sheen, that surface seems a magnet for little scrapes. Nokia bundles in a very good silicon case with the Lumia 800, however it has a cutout specifically designed to expose the reflective metal on the back, rather offsetting its protective qualities.

Minor issues aside, the Lumia 800 is exactly the sort of delight for the senses that you will have expected an N9 clone to be.

DISPLAY

THE CLEARBLACK DISPLAY LIVES UP TO ITS MARKETING BLUSTER
Sticking with the N9 lineage and a recent preference for AMOLED in its flagship phones, Nokia has installed an 800 x 480 AMOLED display inside the Lumia 800. What was a 3.9-inch panel on the N9 has shrunken to 3.7 inches (and lost 54 horizontal lines of pixels in the process) in order to accommodate the Windows Phone keys. Yes, the Pentile Matrix RGBG subpixel arrangement is present here too, though as with the N9, I have to stress that it has almost no distinguishable impact on the display’s quality. If you put your eye right up to the screen, you may notice some color fringing on white text in front of a black background, but that’s it. Pixel density at this 3.7-inch size and WVGA res feels just about right for Windows Phone and the Lumia 800 does it justice with very clear, richly saturated imagery. As usual with AMOLED, some users will find the colors rendered a little too rich, though there’s sadly no option to tone down saturation as there is on Samsung’s Galaxy S II.

One thing nobody can complain about, however, is the way the Lumia 800 renders — or doesn’t render, to be precise — blacks. It features the anti-glare polarizer that earns it Nokia’s ClearBlack Display designation, which to us simple humans just means that its screen is less reflective than most and dark shades appear truly dark. Most of the time, you’ll struggle to distinguish where the display panel ends, creating the wonderful illusion that onscreen imagery is simply suspended atop the surface of the phone — it’s a very organic appearance that lends Microsoft’s Metro tiles an extra air of sophistication.

Nokia’s spec sheets don’t list it, but a visit to Corning’s website confirmed that the Lumia 800 does indeed have a Gorilla Glass front, much like the N9, N8 and E7 before it. That should provide you with an extra sense of security when using this phone since Gorilla Glass has shown itself to be a reliably rugged screen for mobile phones.

BATTERY LIFE, RECEPTION, AND AUDIO

DISAPPOINTING TO SEE NFC AND INTERNET SHARING OMITTED FROM THE 800

From my brief time with the Lumia 800, I’d say its battery life has been marginally less impressive than the N9, though that’s not unreasonable given it’s having to power a 1.4GHz processor. Anyone coming from Nokia’s previous Symbian family — which typically sacrificed brute firepower for longer endurance — will have to adapt his or her expectations to a new reality. I got to 23 hours while subjecting the 800 to my usual routine of push email updates, web browsing, music playback, photo and video capture, and lots of idling. It’s an effort to simulate real world use, but the only thing constant about the real world is that it’s different for everyone, so take it as nothing more than an indicator. Nokia lists the Lumia 800 as offering longer talk time (13 hours on GSM / 9.5 hours over 3G) than the N9 (11 and 6.5 hours, respectively) but shorter standby time. When it comes to the Windows Phone competition, HTC’s 1.5GHz Titan lasts just about as long as the 800, though the 1GHz Radar offers a little more stamina than both.

Reception on the Lumia 800 has been consistently good, allowing for clear calls and generally speedy web connectivity. While on the subject of wireless connections, I do have to express disappointment at Nokia’s decision to disable Windows Phone’s Internet Sharing feature. That’s the facility that allows you to share your Lumia’s 3G connection with nearby Wi-Fi-capable devices, turning it into a mobile hotspot. Nokia may look to enable it in a future update, however it wasn’t deemed a top priority for launch and the company chose to focus on improving other areas of the phone experience. Also missing from the Lumia 800 is the NFC connection included on the N9. NFC is still a rarely used sideshow for the smartphones that have it, so I can definitely see why Nokia nixed it, but almost everyone is pushing for its wider adoption and its absence from the 800 casts a bit of a shadow over its long-term prospects.

What the Lumia 800 does have is Bluetooth, which is harnessed nicely by a Bluetooth Contacts Transfer app. It does what its name suggests and helps to bridge the software incompatibility that arises between Nokia’s new Windows Phone and its line of legacy devices — provided they too have Bluetooth on board, of course.

The loudspeaker at the bottom of the Lumia 800 may look identical to the one on the N9, but it’s subtly different. Whereas the N9′s speaker was impossible to muffle, the 800′s is much more susceptible to being muted by pressing something against it — that basically rules out listening to music on the phone while standing it in an upright position. Aside from such an eclectic concern, the sound produced by the Lumia 800 is very good indeed. The usual size limitations imposed by the smartphone form factor do apply, but it’s good enough that you will actually want to listen to music through it. Nokia’s bundled ear buds, on the other hand, are not. They’re quite terrible, sit loosely in the ear, and your best course of action may be to never unpack them so as to keep up the phone’s resale value.

CAMERA

THERE ARE SOME COLOR BALANCE ISSUES, BUT THE CAMERA TAKES SOME VERY DETAILED SHOTS

Yet another hand-me-down from the N9 production line, the Lumia 800′s camera is composed of the same 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.2 Carl Zeiss lens as on the MeeGo Harmattan phone. That’s generally a good thing, as the Lumia 800 is capable of filling those eight million pixels with tons of detail and Nokia’s been very frugal with its noise reduction. Nonetheless, issues of color fidelity do arise, ostensibly caused by Nokia’s post-processing which occasionally introduces an artificial green hue to pictures. This probably has to do with the camera’s automatic white balance misreading the scene; whatever the reason, it takes away from the ease of use and reliability of the Lumia 800′s camera, which are the two most paramount considerations when you’re building imaging equipment for phones.

Less critical, though still important, is the speed of operation and this is where the Lumia 800 shines. Microsoft has emphasized quick camera operation with Windows Phone from its start, and the Lumia 800 keeps up that standard beautifully. A long press of the side-mounted camera button sends you right into the camera app and tapping anywhere on the screen instructs the camera to focus and auto-expose the image based on the information in that spot. You can also half-press the physical camera key to get the camera to do the same in the center of the picture. Focusing speed isn’t sublime and there are none of the N9′s special software optimizations for speeding things up — the Lumia 800′s camera software is stock Windows Phone — but relying on Microsoft’s already strong platform isn’t a bad choice here, performance is still satisfyingly quick.

MOTION BLUR DETRACTS FROM WHAT’S OTHERWISE VERY HIGH QUALITY 720P VIDEO

The dual-LED flash works very well on nearby objects and avoids washing out scenes when it’s called into action. It’s intelligent enough to recognize how much light it needs to provide, so if you focus on your hand in a dark room, it’ll light it accurately, but if you focus on the black phone in your hand, it’ll readjust for the phone and over-expose your hand. That may not sound ideal, but the good aspect of it is that it works predictably and reliably.

Video recording, much like stills, benefits from some really nice detail, however motion blur is exhibited a bit too readily for my liking. If the Galaxy S II was capable of handling motion perfectly at 1080p resolution back in April, your new flagship phone should be able to do the same at 720p without bother. Nokia doesn’t live up to that standard with the Lumia 800, unfortunately. Another way in which this phone falls short on the imaging front is in its omission of a front-facing camera. Sure, most people consider them gimmicky and video conversations aren’t exactly threatening to overtake regular voice calls, but front-facing cameras have become essentially standard equipment nowadays and it’s odd to see Nokia skimping on one here.

SOFTWARE

Nokia’s historic move to a new mobile operating system is finally complete. Gone are the days of trudging through outdated Symbian menu systems, no longer will you be laughed at by your trendy app-loving peers. Nokia’s latest handset runs Windows Phone, a truly up-to-date OS with a future bright enough to justify the Lumia branding.

So why does it feel so underwhelming?

WINDOWS PHONE

The first issue is one of familiarity. We’ve seen both Windows Phone 7.5 and the Lumia 800′s chiseled physique already, so combining the two is like making yourself a banana sandwich, new and potentially tasty, but not an altogether unpredictable combination. The Lumia 800 is a device embodying all of Nokia’s phone manufacturing nous and relies on Microsoft’s best mobile software to date, but what it doesn’t do is create something new and altogether better out of those components. The two parts are welded together, whereas what the world really wanted to see was for them to melt into one spectacular new juggernaut that would do battle with iOS and Android. Windows Phone isn’t there yet and if any one phone will push it into that stratosphere, the Lumia 800 won’t be it. The Lumia 800 equipped with all of the N9′s software bells and whistles might have been that hero device, but alas, time constraints have forced Nokia to serve up a very ordinary helping of Mango with almost no improvements of its own.

Nokia has been consistent in saying that it’ll endeavor to bring the swipe gestures, the double-tap-to-wake, and everything else that was good about the N9′s UI over to Windows Phone, but the fact remains that those goodies are not present in the Lumia 800 today. What you get are sadly superficial tweaks: Nokia alerts, ringtones, wallpapers, and a “Nokia blue” theme are scattered around the phone, while the Metro tiles, email client, calendar, and all other native apps are left untouched. There aren’t obvious ways to improve on them, mind you, as Microsoft has done a really stellar job of refining the basic Windows Phone user experience. Still, it would have been nice to see Nokia implement the awesome onscreen keyboard of the N9, along with its terrific haptic feedback, in the Lumia phone that’s probably being built on the exact same manufacturing line.

Nokia Drive and Nokia Music are the two big additions on launch day. Drive provides offline navigation with voice turn-by-turn instructions and Music includes a Mix Radio streaming service that’s loaded up with genre-based playlists of free music. Both are actually very good at what they do and are sure to figure in your long-term use of the Lumia 800. The Mix Radio library is being built out continually, so there’ll be more and more content for you to access in the future, while the Music app also pulls in the venues for upcoming gigs near you. I still would’ve liked to see Nokia do more than just throw in some added apps, although unlike HTC’s underwhelming Hub for WP7, Nokia’s additions offer real added value for the user. Moreover, Nokia Maps — the new name for Ovi Maps — will be available for the Lumia 800 and all Windows Phones within the next couple of weeks, so we can at least say that the Microsoft-Nokia partnership is headed in the right direction.

ECOSYSTEM

Perhaps the main reason for Nokia’s abandonment of MeeGo and embrace of Microsoft was the need to have a thriving software ecosystem to empower its handsets with. The Windows Phone Marketplace isn’t quite up to that standard yet, however Microsoft is putting good tools in developers’ hands and Nokia’s presence adds extra clout and credibility to the platform. Stephen Elop’s vision of Windows Phone as “the third ecosystem” behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android looks set to indeed materialize, meaning that prospective Lumia 800 owners should have plenty to look forward to. Skype’s absence from the Marketplace, for example, will soon be rectified by the folks working in Microsoft’s freshly inaugurated Skype Division.

The gravitational pull of Microsoft and Nokia’s collective determination can reasonably be expected to produce the critical mass of good apps for Windows Phone to truly compete with the best — it’s just that at this particular moment in time, it continues to lag. While closing the gap on Android and iOS, Windows Phone doesn’t improve on them in any dramatic way. Its multitasking overview is good, the live tiles offer information more quickly and easily, and its calendar is arguably the best of the bunch, but those are small advantages. iOS still wins when I want to browse the web or check out a new app and Android is still the best platform for users of Google services.

THE GRAVITATIONAL PULL OF MICROSOFT AND NOKIA’S COLLECTIVE DETERMINATION SHOULD ATTRACT PLENTY OF DEV TALENT

I’ve been using the Lumia 800 alongside an Android handset and an iPhone 4S recently and one thing’s abundantly clear: all three platforms are getting the basics right. Push email is arriving at more or less the same time, calendar alerts are going off simultaneously, notifications are mostly unobtrusive, pinch-to-zoom is smooth, web browsers are rendering pages correctly, and email conversations are threaded. What will make the difference going forward are things like the extra layer of polish that iOS can offer, and Windows Phone, as the new entrant to this competition, will need to beat the others to such new features and improvements if it wants to attract defectors to its cause.

An honorable mention is earned by Microsoft’s windowsphone.com website. As the name suggests, it’s the web portal unto your ownership of a Windows Phone, and allows you to browse the Marketplace and send apps directly to your device. There are also guides for novices as well as a pretty comprehensive My Windows Phone menu. The latter allows you to find your phone (with disturbing accuracy), ring it, lock it up with a password and a message for its lock screen, or even wipe it completely. In a classy little touch, Microsoft has also made the color theme of the website match the theme of your phone, which can actually be useful if you’re managing multiple Windows Phones and need a visual way to distinguish between them online. Everything on the site worked exactly as advertised, and though the functionality it offers isn’t unique, it’s a great extra to have and a wonderful base from which to build and expand the WP web ecosystem.

WRAP-UP

WINDOWS PHONE PROVIDES A MODERN AND ATTRACTIVE UI AND THE LUMIA 800′S HARDWARE MAINTAINS NOKIA’S REPUTATION FOR HIGH BUILD QUALITY

The Lumia 800 is exactly what it looked like when it was first announced at Nokia World: it is an N9 running Windows Phone. Ironically, in moving from the wildly imaginative Harmattan to the more straight-laced Windows Phone OS, this smartphone has undergone the reverse of the transition Stephen Elop wants to see Nokia make. He wants the company to stop being known for unexciting reliability and to start inspiring greater emotional attachment in its users. The N9 was that irrationally loved device, and no matter how hard the Lumia 800 tries, it simply isn’t as thrilling. For anyone still stuck on one of Nokia’s Symbian devices, the 800 is an obvious upgrade. It lacks the N8′s superb camera, but otherwise it easily trumps anything and everything in the company’s recent portfolio. Windows Phone provides a modern and attractive user interface and the Lumia 800′s hardware maintains Nokia’s reputation for attention to detail and insistence on high build quality. The picture is less clear for those considering alternative Windows Phones, as the Lumia 800 actually falls behind by not including a front-facing camera or mobile hotspot capabilities. Choosing your favorite there will depend on how much you love the Lumia 800′s sterling physical design and how much faith you place in Nokia’s ability to execute on its ambitious plans for software differentiation. The Lumia 800 has the potential to be great, but today it’s merely good.

GOOD 

  • Excellent design
  • Attractive display
  • Brightest future of any recent Nokia phone

BAD 

  • No Internet Sharing
  • Fiddly volume rocker and lock key
  • No front-facing camera

REPORTED PROBLEMS

  • On-screen keyboard is disappearing during typing. Nokia has addressed the problem with a software fix in the update 8107.
  • Nokia Lumia 800 is claimed to have “sound quality problems” when using low impedance headphones like the supplied ones. Nokia has acknowledged the issue and is working on a fix.
  • Battery life. In December 2011, Nokia confirmed that some Lumia 800 devices do not use the full capacity of their battery. They also state that “only a charger with an output of 1000mA will fully charge your Lumia 800 battery.” During 19–20 January 2012, two updates were made available—battery related software update and another of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango build 8107. Nokia has stated that reported issues are fixed with the update and it triples the battery life.
  • Problems with camera focus in certain conditions. Nokia has confirmed this and is working on a fix.
  • Daily Mobile reports an issue with screen flickering.
  • Multiple reports of trouble turning device on.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Also known as Nokia Sea Ray

GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 – RM-819
HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100 – For Canada
HSDPA 900 / 1900 / 2100 – RM-801 CV
SIM Micro-SIM
Announced 2011, October
Status Available. Released 2011, November
BODY Dimensions 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm, 76.1 cc (4.59 x 2.41 x 0.48 in)
Weight 142 g (5.01 oz)
– Touch-sensitive controls
DISPLAY Type AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches (~252 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass
– Nokia ClearBlack display
SOUND Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 16 GB storage, 512 MB RAM
DATA GPRS Class 33
EDGE Class 33
Speed HSDPA 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, dual-LED flash, check quality
Features Geo-tagging
Video Yes, 720p@30fps, check quality
Secondary No
FEATURES OS Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon
CPU 1.4 GHz Scorpion
GPU Adreno 205
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML5, RSS feeds
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java No
Colors Black, Cyan, Magenta, White
– SNS integration
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
– Document viewer/editor
– Video/photo editor
– Voice memo/command/dial
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Standard battery, Li-Ion 1450 mAh (BV-5JW)
Stand-by Up to 265 h (2G) / Up to 335 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 13 h (2G) / Up to 9 h 30 min (3G)
Music play Up to 55 h
MISC SAR US 1.27 W/kg (head)     1.08 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 0.94 W/kg (head)
Price group  Rs. 22,000/-
TESTS Display Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal)
Loudspeaker Voice 60dB / Noise 59dB / Ring 61dB
Audio quality Noise -87.3dB / Crosstalk -87.8dB
Camera Photo / Video
Battery life Endurance rating 35h

Nokia Lumia Series 2: Lumia 610: Windows Smartphone @Rs.12,999/-

Nokia Lumia 610: Windows Smartphone @Rs.12,999/-

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The new Nokia Lumia 610  is a 3.7-inch touchscreen smartphone running the latest Windows Phone Mango OS . It is a budget Windows phones from Nokia and sport 5MP camera at the back . The new Nokia Lumia 610 is targeted at the youth with its affordable price (cheapest price Nokia Windows Smartphone) and availability in stylish design and variety of bright colors . It sports high speed connectivity options like 3G and Wi-Fi and also supports Wi-Fi hotspot (its big sibling Lumia 710 lacks it) .

Specifications:

Also known as Nokia RM-835.

General 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
SIM Micro-SIM
Announced 2012, February
Status Available. Released 2012, April
Body Dimensions 119 x 62 x 12 mm, 77.6 cc (4.69 x 2.44 x 0.47 in)
Weight 131.5 g (4.62 oz)
Display Type TFT capacitive touchscreen, 65K colors
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches (~252 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Sound Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
Memory Card slot No
Internal 8 GB storage, 256 MB RAM
Data GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps
EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps
Speed HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
Camera Primary 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, face detection
Video Yes, VGA@30fps
Secondary No
Features OS Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
Chipset Qualcomm MSM7227A Snapdragon
CPU 800 MHz ARM Cortex-A5
GPU Adreno 200
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java No
Colors White, Cyan, Magenta, Black
– SNS integration
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
– Document viewer
– Video/photo editor
– Voice memo/dial
– Predictive text input
Battery Standard battery, Li-Ion 1300 mAh (BP-3L)
Stand-by Up to 670 h (2G) / Up to 720 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 10 h 30 min (2G) / Up to 9 h 30 min (3G)
Music play Up to 35 h
Misc SAR US 1.32 W/kg (head)     0.97 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 0.83 W/kg (head)
Price group Rs. 12,999/-
Tests Display Contrast ratio: 746:1 (nominal) / 1.432:1 (sunlight)
Loudspeaker Voice 70dB / Noise 65dB / Ring 75dB
Audio quality Noise -84.6dB / Crosstalk -85.7dB
Camera Photo
Battery life Endurance rating 43h

 

 

 

 

 

Nokia Lumia Series: 1, Nokia Lumia 510

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Nokia Lumia 510: Coming Soon to India

Nokia premiers Lumia 510 in India, coming soon at “less than Rs. 11,000”

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Nokia has announced the launch of the Lumia 510 in India. The country is the first market in the world to receive the “cheapest Lumia device in the world”, a mantle that the Lumia 510 inherits from the Lumia 610.

The Nokia Lumia 510 sports a 4-inch WVGA (800×480) display with a 5-megapixel rear camera. The phone is powered by a 800MHz Qualcomm processor and ships with just 256MB RAM and 4GB internal storage (2.88GB available to the user). Since the phone runs Windows Phone 7.5, it has no support for MicroSD cards, or any other kind of expandable storage.

Nokia did not reveal the exact price of device, only suggesting that the retail price will be “less than Rs. 11,000”. Similarly, the exact availability date wasn’t mentioned either, with the device expected to be available in the “coming weeks”. With Nokia intending the Lumia 510 to be its “Diwali gift to India”, one certainly hopes the phone will become available before the festival (13th November).

While the device looks a decent option at the price on paper, the limited storage and RAM will likely prove to be problematic in day-to-day usage. Sure, Nokia points to the various cloud storage options in its defence of the paltry on-board storage, but poor connectivity across the country makes the cloud-option a non-starter for day to day usage. Nokia could have solved this problem by using Windows Phone 8 (which supports expandable storage) in the Lumia 510, but perhaps it is not ready to undercut its flagship device the Lumia 920, and its sibling the Lumia 820, just yet.

Nokia Lumia 510 replaces the Lumia 610 as the “cheapest Lumia device” in the world. Nokia Lumia 610 was introduced in the country in July this year carrying a price tag of Rs. 12,999. It comes with a 3.7-inch display, 5MP camera and a 800MHz processor with 8GB of internal storage. Today, the smartphone is available online for an estimated price of Rs. 12,000.

The Nokia Lumia 510, like other Windows Phone 7.5 devices, will not be upgradable to Windows Phone 8, but will receive the Windows Phone 7.8 update instead.

Nokia Lumia 510 specs

  • Display: 4-inch WVGA 800×480, TFT, capacitive touch screen
  • Memory: 256MB RAM (4GB internal storage)
  • Camera: 5-megapixel auto-focus; video recording in VGA resolution @30fps
  • Size: 120.7 x 64.9 x 11.5mm
  • Weight: 129g
  • Connectivity: GPRS/EDGE, WLAN 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, GPS/A-GPS, micro-USB, 3.5mm audio connector (AHJ + WP Controls), Dual Transfer Mode, HSDPA/WCDMA
  • Processor: Snapdragon S1
  • Talk time: (GSM/WCDMA) Up to 8.4 h/ 6.2 h; Standby time: (GSM/WCDMA) Up to 653 h/ 738 h

Specifications:

General 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
SIM Yes
Announced 2012, October
Status Coming soon. Exp. release 2012, November
Body Dimensions 120.7 x 64.9 x 11.5 mm, 81 cc (4.75 x 2.56 x 0.45 in)
Weight 129 g (4.55 oz)
Display Type TFT capacitive touchscreen, 65K colors
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 4.0 inches (~233 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Sound Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
Memory Card slot No
Internal 4 GB storage, 256 MB RAM
Data GPRS Up to 85.6 kbps
EDGE Up to 236.8 kbps
Speed HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
Camera Primary 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus
Features Geo-tagging, face detection
Video Yes, VGA@30fps
Secondary No
Features OS Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio Stereo FM radio
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java No
Colors White, Cyan, Black, Red, Yellow
– SNS integration
– 7GB free SkyDrive storage
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/WMA player
– MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
– Document viewer
– Video/photo editor
– Voice memo/dial
– Predictive text input
Battery Standard battery, Li-Ion 1300 mAh (BP-3L)
Stand-by Up to 739 h (2G) / Up to 653 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 6 h 15 min (2G) / Up to 8 h 25 min (3G)
Music play Up to 38 h

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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