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Micromax Superfone “Canvas 2” A110 Review

Micromax Superfone “Canvas 2” A110 Review

 

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With the huge success of the Superfone Canvas A100, Micromax has decided to do raise the bar once again for what a sub-10K Android smartphone should look like. With the same massive 5-inch screen making a comeback, they’ve managed to fit in a dual-core CPU this time – all for the same price as the previous one. Too good to be true?

Video Review

Video Review

Design and Build 
The Canvas 2 A110 once again borrows many design cues from the Galaxy Nexus. The chrome trim along the side is shaped in such a way so as to create an illusion of a curved glass. You get a nice chunky volume rocker on one side along with a power/sleep button on the other side. The phone appears larger than it actually is due to thick bezels on either side. There is a row of sensors beside the chrome plated earpiece and the back cover is quite sturdy and doesn’t scratch easily. The matt finish helps keep fingerprints away. The 8MP shooter produces quite a bulge at the back so you need to be careful as the lens cover will scratch easily.

 

A decent camera

A decent camera

 
The 5-inch LCD display has quite a low resolution of 854 x 480 which makes images, icons, etc. lose their sharpness. The screen doesn’t appear to be of a very good quality either as the viewing angles are pretty poor and there’s terrible banding throughout.  We now know where Micromax has cut corners in order to offer this phone at the same price point.

could have had a larger battery

Could have had a larger battery

 
Overall, the Canvas 2 is built well but is too bulky and quite heavy as well. We could have done without the chrome trim along the edges which quite frankly, gives the phone a cheap look. But then again, it is a cheap phone so there’s that. Unfortunately, the placement of the microSD card does not allow for hot-swap as the battery gets in the way.

Features 
Interface
The Canvas 2 A110 sticks to the stock interface of Android Ice Cream Sandwich for the most part, except for some changes to the notification bar, where we now have side-scrollable toggle switches. The UI is far from smooth though, which is a bit strange when you consider the fact that it’s powered by a dual-core CPU. It all makes sense when you take a closer look at the type of SoC used. Instead of a Qualcomm or TI OMAP, Micromax has used the MT6577 SoC from MediaTek. This comprises of a dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9 CPU and PowerVR GPU. This SoC is specifically designed for the sub-$200 smartphone segment and has the potential to support up to 720p displays and record videos at 1080p. Unfortunately, Micromax has not exploited its full potential, which is why we have to live with lag in the UI. Another important feature that’s missing is an ambient light sensor.

UI is not the smoothest

UI is not the smoothest

 
Other than the stock UI and apps, Micromax has added a SIM management option to set the default card for call, messages, Internet, etc. Both SIMs can be active at the same time if needed. Another feature added is a scheduled power off option, which lets you switch the phone on or off at a designated time and day of the week.

Media 
Audio is handled by the stock music player of ICS. The quality of audio is strictly average even with a good pair of earphones. The rear speaker is quite loud so you won’t miss any of the alerts even in a noisy place. You get 4GB of internal memory and a slot for expanding it up to 32GB. Video playback leaves a lot to be desired. First of all, the Canvas 2 can only handle up to 720p video playback smoothly. MP4 files play well in the stock player but AVI, MKV, etc. have trouble playing back even in MX Player. The colour reproduction is good but the viewing angles are weak so you have to hold the phone just right for a decent experience.

 

Decent audio playback

Decent audio playback

 
Connectivity and Misc. apps
The Micromax Canvas 2 only supports two bands for 2G and just one for 3G, which means you won’t be able to use this on all networks around the world. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v3.0 and USB plug-and-play support. Other than the Play Store, Micromax also bundles their M! Store and M!Zone for added content. The bundled apps include some games like Cricket Fever, Fruit Devil along with some productivity apps like File Manager, M! Buddy and HookUp.

Good number of bundled apps

Good number of bundled apps

 
Camera 
The upgraded 8MP shooter manages to capture decent outdoor images with pretty accurate colours and good amounts of detail. Touch-to-focus and face detection is also present along with many scene modes. Indoor picture quality is not the best and the dual-LED flash isn’t very powerful in illuminating a dark area. Macro shots fare pretty well with a decent amount of detail and depth of field.

Macro mode is pretty good

Macro mode is pretty good

 
Video recording maxes out at 720p but the quality is not very good since the recorded file is not an MP4 video but 3gp. It’s a little strange that Micromax would limit the video recording capabilities to just 720p when clearly, the 8MP sensor and dual-core CPU could easily handle more.

Battery Life 
The Canvas 2 come fitted with a 2000mAh battery pack, which is clearly not enough to power such a huge screen for the entire day. We got  just about 7-hours in our video drain test. We expected a bigger battery given the size of the phone. The phone lasted about 6-hours and 15-minutes in our loop tests which included an hour of calls, two hours of music, two hours of music and the rest was taken up by audio streaming over Wi-Fi.

Verdict and Price in India  
Micromax has priced the Superfone Canvas 2 at Rs 9,990, which is the same price as the first Canvas. However, in order to achieve this, they’ve seem to have compromised a bit too much on performance. The type of panel used is quite poor, the dual-core CPU doesn’t seem to be put to good use as the UI is very laggy and the phone cannot handle video beyond 720p. Crucial features like an ambient light sensor and quad-band functionality also seem to be missing. Overall, the A110 turned out to be a bit of a disappointment and we’d advice you give this a pass.

 

 

Specifications:

 

Also known as Micromax A110 Canvas 2.

GENERAL 2G Network GSM 900 / 1800 – SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G Network HSDPA 2100
SIM Dual SIM (Mini-SIM)
Announced 2012, October
Status Available. Released 2012, November
BODY Dimensions 147 x 76.5 x 9.7 mm (5.79 x 3.01 x 0.38 in)
Weight
DISPLAY Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 854 pixels, 5.0 inches (~196 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Yes
SOUND Alert types Vibration, MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY Card slot microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal 4 GB (2 GB user available) storage, 512 MB
DATA GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes
Speed HSDPA, HSUPA
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v3.0 with A2DP
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
CAMERA Primary 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection
Video Yes
Secondary Yes, VGA
FEATURES OS Android OS, v4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Chipset MediaTek MT6577
CPU Dual-core 1 GHz
GPU PowerVR SGX531
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Radio FM radio
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
Colors Black, White
– SNS integration
– MP3/AAC/WMA/WAV player
– MP4/WMV/H.264/H.263 player
– Organizer
– Document viewer
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail, Youtube, Calendar, Google Talk
– Voice memo/dial
– Predictive text input
BATTERY Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery
Stand-by Up to 180 h
Talk time Up to 5 h
MISC SAR EU 0.68 W/kg (head)
Price group   about Rs. 10,000/-
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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.

Sony Xperia Miro
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.

Sony Xperia Miro
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.

Sony Xperia Miro Sony Xperia Miro
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.

Sony Xperia Miro
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

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