Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V Review
Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo had a very interesting history. The phone had a more or less warm reception when it first came out, but then the unexpected happened. The earthquake that hit Japan not only took many lives, but also affected the Japanese industry. Sony ended up with a shortage of 8 megapixel cameras, the very type that was being used for the Xperia Neo. The production of the phone had to be halted, but instead Sony came up with a different solution. Meet the Android and a lower price tag to make up for the weaker camera. How do all these differences affect the user experience? Let us find out.
There’s nothing interesting in the box, just the usual kit consisting of a USB cable, a charger that connects to it and a headset. The original Xperia Neo used to come with an 8 GB memory card, but here you’ll only find a 2 gig one. On the outside, the phone is identical to its predecessor. The phone is made from plastic, and even though it looks quite good, the glossy surface means you need to wear gloves to keep in sparkling clean. On the front there’s the display with three physical button below it and the front-facing camera and a whole range of different sensors above it. On the top side there are three ports – a standard 3.5 mm audio jack in the middle, a microUSB port and a pretty rare microHDMI port, the lattertwo hidden behind plastic lids. There are no buttons on the left side, but the right side of the phone houses the usual volume rocker, unlock key and a dedicated camera button. From the back Xperia Neo V looks pretty good, despite lacking fancy metallic covers like some of the competitors and almost looks like a real camera, thanks to the lens that’s placed right in the middle. The phone doesn’t break any records in slimness or lightness, but it feels good in the hand thanks to its original curved shape.
The screen measures at 3.7 inches and has a resolution of 480×854 pixels. It’s utilizing the Sony Bravia Mobile Engine and has decent colour and contrast, although loses out to Samsung‘s AMOLED displays. Viewing angles are pretty bad, although for a phone that’s not a major drawback. As already stated, the camera is a 5 megapixel unit, and of course the results of downgrading from a 8 megapixel one are apparent. Although the camera is still capable of taking very high-quality images, losing 3 megapixels results in a lower level of detail. There’s a decent panorama mode, which allows taking pretty accurate panoramic pictures even without the use of a tripod. As of videos, the camera can record them in 720p resolution at 30 frames per second, plus there’s continuous autofocus, which is still a rare feature among smartphones. Again, the only weakness of the videos is the relative lack of detail compared to the original Neo.
Inside the phone there’s a single-core 1 Ghz Scorpion CPU on a Snapdragon chipset, with 512 MB of RAM; this configuration has been used extensively across the Xperia range and provides adequate performance. Slowdowns rarely occur, but don’t expect everything to fly like on the more recent dual-core smartphones. Neo V gets an update to the software – now there’s Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, which comes with a couple of nice improvements, like a screenshot tool and better Facebook integration. But that’s just the beginning, as next year Neo V, along with most other recent Xperia models, will be upgraded to the very latest from Google – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, so you can be sure that at least in terms of software the phone won’t get old anytime soon. Both the current version and the upcoming ICS update feature Sony Ericsson’s custom Timescape user interface on top of the OS.
Xperia Neo V is pretty well suited for music lovers. There’s an FM radio with a very nice interface and TrackID functionality, and although the performance with an audio enhancement plugged in doesn’t impress, the quality and volume of the loudspeaker’s sound are above average. The phone features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, albeit only v2.1, microUSB and microHDMI, but the HDMI cable will have to be purchased separately, which may become a problem as it’s pretty rare. Internal memory is merely 200 MB, but you don’t really need more as there’s support for microSD cards, and a 2 gig one comes with the package.
The phone is pretty comfortable to use. The web browser is nicely laid out and may serve as an example for other smartphones, plus it supports Flash 11, so Youtube and similar services are easily accessible. The professional tools, such as the office suite and the calendar, also work nicely. And even if there’s something you don’t like regarding the apps, there’s always the Android Market to help you out.
Xperia Neo was meant to be a cameraphone, the Neo V is not, as the 5 megapixel shooter is nice, but not good enough to allow the phone to wear that title. However, overall it’s a pretty good smartphone, even considering the tough competition in this segment. It’s got both strong points and weaknesses, but overall it fares well against similar offerings. Plus it’s getting Ice Cream Sandwich soon, which will raise the attractiveness of the whole package.