Experience and Ecosystem 8/10
The Neo is a new look at what a high/mid range device should look like. Sony Ericsson had to face a lot of criticism from consumers and critics alike in 2010. The X10 with all the hardware it had, had Android 1.6 and was pushed to 2.1 too slow. But SE learnt its lesson; they took up the reins and delivered with quick updates all through 2011, and made X10 one of the only devices that went from versions of Android 1.6 to 2.3. The SE Neo is now out to correct mistakes and has made an immediate impact on the market. With around 10 other phones to compete with, the Neo has to do a good job with the hardware it has been provided. The phone has also been given an update to iron out those little bugs here and there.
The launcher SE have equipped with gingerbread has the ability to create folders on the home screen with the added ability to organize applications in a number of ways within the app drawer.. The screen is responsive and quick under the fingertips, mostly due to the brilliant 1GHz Scorpion Snapdragon and the Adrena 205 GPU. And if this combination does not seem good enough, jump onto the Android Market and install any of the various launchers available for free. The screen is 3.7 inches at 480 x 854 pixels and is adequate for the price range but the Bravia Engine and the screen being LED backlit makes this one of the best screens out there in terms of sunlight eligibility but lacks when it comes to viewing angles. Tonnes of applications in the Market add to the value, and why wouldn’t anyone want a metal detector in their arsenal J Other than the vast amounts of applications, you get to play most of the games on the market (and yes the devs are delivering some nice games on the market now) with no problems or lag whatsoever.
The interface is Gingerbread 2.3.3 and skinned with SE’s slight tweaks but was generally bug free in our time with the phone. The phone itself isn’t a benchmark demon but you won’t be able to tell the difference between a dual core or the Neo unless you open 3 tabs on the browser and Flash on every page. For the casual user happy to play Angry Birds whilst texting and listening to music, this phone will be worth the money, a pushy £280 sim free. This might be one of the best deals and one of the cheapest handsets on the list.
Feature Set 8/10
The Sony Ericsson Neo has a lot of fun to be had with. The phone has a decent feature set and the phone does everything expected from the latest breed of smartphones, with Google’s blessings. Equipped with an above average 8MP camera and 720p autofocus HD video recording, the phone can be used as a personal media player as well with its brilliant screen but the weak speaker will force you to use your favourite headphones with the 3.5 mm jack. The phone has voice calling and video calling with the help of 3rd party applications over WLAN and HSDPA. With suitable solutions for its GPS, the phone is a capable SATNAV as well and Google Maps again proves its worth on all Android smartphones.
The browser is simplistic, but integrates tabbed browsing and good performance with add ons such as Adobe Flash 10.2 and bookmark widgets on the Android Market for free, all compatible with the native browsers and 3rd party solutions. Quick panning and pinch to zooming might be highlights but what the browser does most effectively is deliver an experience closest to your desktop or laptop counterparts, something Apple has yet to compete with. And remember, HTML 5 is still in the distance.
There is a miniHDMI port and the phone supports upto 32 gigs of storage on the memory card, but the meager built in 320MB of storage is too little for our taste. This might not make a difference but a lot of the applications rely on the built in memory and are not designed to be stored on the memory card.
The phone gets a great 8 out of 10 for its effort.
Build Quality 6/10
Oh SE disappointed me here. The phone is plasticy, too plasticy for my taste. Most people did not mind that the phone was light and easy to handle, I personally did not like the feel of the phone. It is just the right size and fits perfectly in the average hand but the glossy plastic all over was a mess. Fingerprints and smudges everywhere, the OCD got to me within minutes. I could not lift the phone without grabbing a fiber cloth with it. The buttons are tactile and nice to press, the camera shutter key is small yet usable and the phone is shaped ergonomically which scores some points for it.
The phone has everything for the day to day power user. There is HSDPA, WLAN b/g/n, GPS and A-GPS with the Google suite of Navigation applications, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and an FM radio with RDS on the spec sheet. With a VGA front camera, video calling is an option as well with the 3rd party applications like Tango and Skype. There is a miniHDMI port and a 3.5 mm jack as well. Now all that’s missing is the fancy things Nokia puts into the mixture. But for the price you’re paying, the Neo gives its best. A fantastic 9 out of 10 for connectivity.
The Neo is part of Googles plan to rule the whole world. And with the right kind of hardware manufacturers giving these lovely things the love they need, Google will not be too far away from total world domination (we’re still waiting for the final Boss fight with Apple though). SE has put together an EXMOR sensor on this one here. The 8MP sensor might not compare with the Nokia N8 in terms of the quality of the snaps but it stands tall in the mobile world nonetheless. The phone’s camera is certainly comparable to the best in the Android realm. It has great colour reproduction although low light photography wasn’t as good as advertised. The camera produced a lot of noise even with the LED on at night. But daylight shots were clear and crisp. And the interface is streamlined with the touchscreen Cybershot line of Sony’s devices.
The video recording has autofocus and at 720p with 30fps it is actually a mammoth accomplishment. Only a handful of devices deliver such good quality of video recording and we won’t even make a fuss about there being no 1080p video recording (what more do you expect from a 1GHz processor?).
The music player has a great eyecandiesh interface ad an equalizer to go with the amazing audio quality. But the lack of DivX and Xvid might put a lot of people off this device. Fear not though, free 3rd party applications like the MX video player are available on the market (we would like you to try this one out if you have an android with you right now). And watching videos and pictures on that lovely screen might make this a very good PMP.
The effort shown by the Neo gives it a deserving 8 out of 10.
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