I am a long-time fan of Sony Ericsson mobiles. My first smartphone ever was an Ericsson, the R380. From then, I have used several other products from that lineage.
The Xperia Pro is the latest in the long line of my encounters with Sony Ericsson, now just Sony.
If you don’t have the time to read the full review, here’s the lowdown:
- Good in-call audio quality
- Good audio playback quality
- Good keyboard
- Doesn’t feel quite robust
- Poor sunlight legibility
- The 1Ghz processor often feels inadequate to run the device smoothly.
The sliding keyboard is firm and I didn’t experience any wobbles. The device is well put together, but feels plasticky. Maybe I have just been spoilt by the E7’s tank-like robust feel.
Sony Ericsson claims that the 3.7 inch display is scratch-resistant glass. However, in real life, I got a light scratch so fast just putting it in my trouser pocket with another phone. It is a light scratch, as you don’t see it, but when using the touchscreen, i can feel it on the glass.
The Xperia Pro unit here came with Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread on board. An update later via Sony Ericsson PC Companion and it was bumped up to version 2.3.4. There may be minor changes in the OS/UI, but almost nothing visible.
Gmail, email and Web browsing on the Xperia Pro are standard Android fare – meaning that Gmail is stellar, while email and web browsing are good.
Again, as with all other android devices that I have trialled, I was unable to setup my Mobility blog email on it. That was the same experience that both Jesse and Dayo have had with Android. Meanwhile, we had no issues setting up our corporate mail accounts on Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices.
The Xperia Pro is upgradable to v4.0 (Ice cream Sandwich) too.
As far as I can see, the 1GHz processor struggles to run things smoothly. There are slight delays, sluggish responses and pauses everywhere.
Particularly annoying is the fact that returning to the desktop after web browsing or Tweeting for a while often results in a slow loading of widgets and shortcuts there.
By way of comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S II (with a Dual Core 1.2GHz processor) is significantly snappier.
Running apps also regularly shut in the background and relaunch when you return to them. Apparently, the 512 MB RAM is not quite adequate either.
There’s only 320 MB user memory available, but you have the option to expand that with a microSD card.
Sony Ericsson are reknowned for stellar audio reproduction. The Xperia pro lives up to this reputation. Music playback is loud and good, certainly better by miles than what the Samsung Galaxy S II offers. I don’t have the Nokia 701 anymore to compare with, as that is my new standard to measure other mobiles’ audio quality by.
Video playback is okay, but the limited codec support is a bummer. There is no DiVX/XViD.
The 8 megapixel camera is a bit of a disappointment. It produces a mixture of results – sometimes good, sometimes bad. Never stellar. If you are a shutterbug and want a top-range camera, you are better off looking at the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S II and Nokia N9.
The single LED flash helps a bit for close shots in the dark. Anything beyond a few metres and like most other LEDs, its no use. In my opinion, nothing beats a Xenon flash.
The camera shoots 720P video too.
A few photo samples:
3rd Party Apps
With Gingerbread, you have the best of Android minus IceCreamSandwich (which is available on only one other device for now).
It is standard Android fare, and there is no need detailing all that Android does here. It does mean, for example, that using the S II gives you access to hundreds of thousands of applications in the Android Market.
There is a lot of trash in there, honestly, but there is next to nothing that you need that you cannot find there.
The QWERTY Keyboard
Of course, the primary selling point of any device labelled “Pro” is the hardware QWERTY keyboard. The Xperia Pro has a good keyboard.
Using the keyboard is not a bad experience at all. Typing is comfortable and breezy. In all, I like the keyboard. But it is not at the level of the keyboard on the Nokia E7, for example.
Xperia Pro Versus E7
It was inevitable that I run some comparisons with the Nokia E7, another QWERTY slider device that has been lying around Mobility Towers for about a year now.
External hardware wise, there is no contest. The keyboard, display and build of the E7 trounces those of the Xperia Pro hands down. It is under the hood that the latter has any advantages.
Being Android, the Xperia Pro offers all the niceties and a huge array of apps via the Android Market. It has a faster processor, though in daily use, the 1GHz CPU seemed to struggle to keep things smooth.
The E7 also gives better battery life and data management.
At the end of the day, its your choice.
The Xperia Pro is a good buy if you are after an Android smartphone with a hardware keyboard. It has got a 3.7-inch display and a good keyboard. Music playback is excellent, while video playback and camera performances are average. There’s Stereo FM radio and a 1,500mAh battery to keep things going. In my standard setup, the Xperia Pro needs charging before the end of the day. Sometimes twice.
It does not shine brightly, and that’s no issue. It is not a flagship. The important things is that there is nothing terrible about the device. It works well.
And for N65,000, plus or minus, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro is all yours.