Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Xperia Mini Pro Review

LG P500 / Optimus One
I lost my LG P-500 / Optimus One a few weeks back. Which is a bummer as I am between jobs and can't afford the phone I want. But I still needed a phone to do work.
I reasoned that rather than let my contract go to waste, I would be better off buying a cheap Android phone. I narrowed it down to either the Samsung Y or the Xperia Mini. Both were similarly priced but I really wanted a bigger screen. I settled on the Xperia Mini Pro. Although the screen isn't bigger, the slide-out keyboard meant that half of the screen won't be taken up by the on-screen keyboard. Since I spend a significant amount typing, this is a big plus. The price was not too much more than the Xperia Mini and the difference wouldn't have gotten me a Samsung phone with a bigger screen anyway.
I checked out the reviews. They were either positive or positive with a few caveats. But beggars can't be choosers so I got the phone.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro
After using the phone for some time, I do agree with most reviews that the 5 MP camera is not good. The pictures it takes are too blocky for a camera with that resolution. I had a Blackberry Bold with a 3.5MP camera which gave better pictures. It reminded me of the early, cheap 12MP camera which were made to appease megapixel chasers. Pictures taken were either too dark or had elements that were too visible. Using third-party camera apps helps with the overall picture but won't improve the quality. Lowering the image resolution doesn't help. Sad to say, even the LG's camera was slightly better. It's good enough for that quick snap or family moments but it won't be replacing a dedicated camera anytime soon.
The good news is that's the bad news. Everything else about this phone is great. It is an example of a design idea well executed.

The slide-out keyboard is responsive and feels solid sliding in and out. It is compatible with SwiftKey X keyboard app which can read my mind when it comes to word prediction. It took me a while to figure out how to toggle the blue key mode. I had to read the manual but I do that anyway. There is some strangeness with ConnectBot when it comes to the blue keys which affects number inputs. It makes it a pain to enter anything that has a number in it. The blue and shift key toggles. So pressing the shift key, toggles the caps key. Pressing it twice turns is it off. Sometimes. I think this has to do more with the software. A small triangle appears in the cursor, either at the top (for the shift key) or at the bottom (the blue key), to show the status of the toggle. The triangle is either hollow or filled, depending on the status.
The homescreen UI gives flexibility while providing a way to cram the most number of visible apps on screen, a theoretical 28 apps, 12 on the wallpaper and 4 in each of the corners. Each corner expands to give access to the apps and  appear in each screen. But they give way what ever needs the space on a particular screen whether it is a large widget or an app icon. This is a big deal because the main menu does not give much options for sorting. While you could sort by most recent and alphabetical, it still means scrolling screen after screen to get to the app that you want at that time. You can sort them manually but it is a pain to move icons across several screen to get it just the way you want.
The speaker is loud to the point of breaking up. Podcasts are clear but do need fiddling around with volume for best results. Depending on your preference, you may need to turn off X-Loud in Sounds under Settings to get it just right.
Battery life is like most phones of it's ilk. User it like a smart phone and you'll be charging it daily.

More like this
For a more professional review and what I think it the best review of this phone, here is the review for the Sony Erricson Xperia Mini Pro from PhoneArena.

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