HOME / PRINT
Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro Android Smartphone Review
With Sony Ericsson as a company undergoing a slight change, one would expect their devices to do so as well. Sadly that’s not the case, however, there never really was a general cause of concern for users to take up issue with too many of SE’s devices with regards to functionality or style. The same can be said about the newly launched Xperia Pro. Here’s a closer look.
Available in 3 colors – silver, black and red with a chrome rim and a superbly slick slide-out QWERTY keypad, the Xperia Pro gets high scores in the design segment. It features a 3.7-inch LED backlit LCD capacitive touchscreen (480 x 854 pixels) with Sony’s Mobile BRAVIA Engine enhancing the colors, brightness and contrast. Overall, it makes for crystal clear viewing in all lighting circumstances. The scratch-resistant display appeared to be much more adamant about keeping scratches away as compared to the Xperia Arc. Android’s home, return and menu keys find themselves at the bottom of the display in the form of 3 physical buttons that are nevertheless soft to the touch for activation.
One seriously slick handset
Having had the opportunity to handle all three color options, it appears that SE has made a slight faux pas with regards to the lighting and shading of the keypad in the sliver model. Being devoid of a sensor to activate the backlight of the keys, thus leaving them on whenever the keypad is out, due to the light coloration of the handset the keys are not clearly visible in bright light. This is not the case with the darker models. If you’re versatile enough with the QWERTY style, it won’t matter a bit as the keypad itself with individual spaced keys is soft, well spaced and makes for speedy and comfortable typing.
The lack of a Hot Swap slot for the microSD card is a bit of an issue but since SE bundles an 8GB card, finding a reason to ever remove the card will be hard. The USB port is placed squarely at the top of the handset (a good idea) with a micro HDMI port on the right side above the camera shutter release (bottom) and the volume rocker. The 3.5mm handsfree socket is on the left hand side above the power/screen lock button
Slim, curvey lines
The Xperia Pro is designed to both make a style statement and be simple but effectively usable and it does this with a sense of elegance and class.
Features and Performance
Running under the hood of the Xperia Pro is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor that SE has managed to put to extremely effective use. The UI is super fluid with apps that will literally open up instantaneously with the slightest tap of your finger or gesture. Screen rotation was sooth and lag free and so were gesture control based parts of the UI and Anroid 2.3 aka Gingerbread. It scored very well in benchmarks as well with a Linpak scoring of 37.5 in a Single Thread run and 33.8 in the Multi Thread run.
Customised SE UI works smoothly
Sony Ericsson’s customised Android UI, although seemingly well designed has never been to smooth on quite a few of the smartphones we’ve tested. However that was not the case with the Xperia Pro. Of course running alternative UI’s like Launcher Pro etc. worked out much better in terms of usability. TimeScape is also part of the UI package and a new widget called Type and Send that allows you to do exactly what it says and even post your message to social networks or send an email is quite handy. Adao File Manager is also provided to access directories.
Audio settings include EQ presets and an option called xLOUD designed to boost the output via the built in speakers. Either way, audio quality is top notch and the rather comfy handsfree included works out in the handsets favour again. The tone quality is very well balanced and distortion at peak volume is negligible but non-existent with a higher end quality of earphones. An FM radio is also thrown in and although it may not have provided the very best reception in certain areas, overall it was a non-issue. Unfortunately the Xperia Pro has no codec support for AVI files so you’ll need to download a third party player like Mobo or Rockplayer. With these 720p files in almost all formats will play seamlessly.
Does well in the media departmentConnectivity
With 3G capabilities and EDGE/GPRS, Wi-Fi with DLNA and hot spot creation to supplement data connectivity, the Xperia Pro is loaded up with features. Bluetooth with A2DP and USB 2.0 are also part of the connectivity deal along with HDMI out. The Pro also has a built in GPS module with A-GPS support for Wisepilot for which a download link has been preloaded. Along with your basic social networking support for Facebook etc. and MS Exchange, Push Mail support and regular gmail and gtalk features, the Pro also comes with Moxier Pro for Push notifications with Active Sync support.
Plenty of connectivity options
Sony has also include quite a few options in the form of shortcuts, for accessing online downloadable content from apps to games etc. These include – GetApps, get Games, Xperia Hot Shots, Games & Apps, PlayNow Store, and of course the Android App Market that has it all. Some of these are a bit redundant but not really a problem to have.
Sony Ericsson has also thrown in quite a few extras like Office Suite Pro for starters, Followed by Let’s Golf for the gamers, a UEFA.com app fans, McAfee Mobile Antivirus, Civil Alerts a Facebook Music and Video app and all of the regular Android goodies. Everything is accounted for from the basic mobile phone perspective including a calendar and Calculator.
The Xperia Pro is equipped with an 8 megapixel autofocus/touch focus camera. It features Smile detection, geotagging, plenty of scene modes to choose from Exposure, image stabilisation, a self-timer and white balance to name a few. The camera also has a omnidirectional Panorama Sweep option that’s a little bit on the slower side but does manage to be be quite clear if your hands are steady. Image quality in general, is quite impressive as 8MP mobile phone cameras go. Colors look quite rich and focus is in more cases than not, exactly where you want it to be.
The handset also records video in 720p HD with continuous autofocus. A 3D panorama options that can be viewed on a 3D capable TV is also present.
With a 1500mAh battery powering the Pro, it fared decently in our battery tests. It clocked in at 7 hours and 25 minutes running just video non-stop with no background connectivity. In our Loop tests with EDGE running in the background we run the handset non strop with 2 hours of music, 2 hours of audio streaming, 2 hours of video and 1.5 hours of talk time. The handset even managed to run into the second loop with an hour’s worth music of calls and about 15 minutes of talk time thrown in totalling about 9 hours of non-stop usage with EDGE running and push notifications coming in. In real time usage, you’ll easily get over a day and half of usage on a single charge with nominal usage. With 3G or Wi-Fi running you should expect a drastic drop in run time of course. We managed to get just about 5 hours of non-stop usage with 3G running in the background.
The backlight of the keypad could be an issue with the silver model
The Bottom Line
With a Price tag of Rs. 23,990 (MRP) on the Xperia Pro, it makes for a great feature rich handset. The tiny glitch with the sliver model’s keypad and backlighting can easily be overlooked when compared to the slew of features and the above average battery life the handset offers. It’s a great handset for this price range and if you’re looking a good looking, smooth functioning, 8MP loaded smartphone, this is it.