Sony Xperia Go review

Reviews Ben Griffin 13:12, 26 Jul 2012

We review the Sony Xperia Go, a small Android handset that can supposedly take spillages and dust in its stride

Rating: 
3.5
Pros: 
One tough cookie, Compact, Good performance for the money
Cons: 
Android 2.3 is starting to show its age, Matte casing attracts dirt like it's going out of fashion
Verdict: 
If you are more fussed about durability and portability than you are being on the latest version of Android, the Sony Xperia Go is a worthy choice

To protect your phone from the perils of dropping it into a pint, Sony has unveiled the Xperia Go, a water, damage and dust resistant Android smartphone.

Automatically, then, the Xperia Go is thrown into the arena with Motorola's Defy, Defy + and Defy Mini, and the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart, as these are all devices designed to offer you smartphone functionality but with the reassurance they won't disintegrate the moment you drop them.

Aesthetics

You'd assume the Xperia Go looks like a phone version of the Michelin Man but it's actually very reserved. Dare we say it: it's actually slightly girly. But that's not a bad thing. Rather than have deep tire-type ridges and a bulky frame like the JCB, which indicates you spend your day digging up roads, you get a mobile phone that is small, elegant and sturdy.

In fact, the only real indication it's built to take a beating is the odd texture on the back, which seems to divide opinion as easily as marmite. In our preview we said it feels like you could use the Xperia Go for an impromptu wood sanding session because of its textured, slightly grainy feel, and we still feel the same way now.

Odd to the touch, it definitely is, but we soon became accustomed with the texture. Less so the scratches it picks up all too easily.

On the front of the device beneath its 3.5-inch display are three buttons, one for back, home and menu. The volume rocker lives on the right side, making it easily accessible. Sony has opted to put the power/unlock button on the top at the left, which is pretty typical.

Hardware

Where the Xperia Go starts to push away from the crowd of rugged smartphones is on the inside. A dual core 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM means the Xperia Go is better equipped to run the apps and games that require more juice.

It also means Android Gingerbread actually runs surprisingly fast, probably thanks to some work on Sony's part. Unless you require the absolute best performance for something like Shadowgun, you shouldn't be disappointed. This isn't the sort of device you would buy for sheer performance, though, so it's a moot point.

Take the back cover off and you find rubbery grommets protect the microSD and SIM-card slots, reminding you this is one tough customer. You also find a nice shade of turquoise, which makes us wonder why the much more attractive colour is hidden on the inside. It's a bit like buying an Armani suit and wearing dungarees over the top.

Suffice to say, the Xperia Go includes lots of clever design to keep the water out, and the dust too, although we can't say we've ever had to say our farewells to a device left on a particularly dirty shelf.

Overall, Sony has built a very solid Android device and we really think it could survive a drop into a pint, which makes it perfect for the more clumsy among us.

Display

A 3.5-inch display is relatively dinky when most smartphones are striving to double up as runways, but for anyone who is used to a feature phone it's plenty. In fact, it's actually adequate enough for web browsing, email checking and sending text, although the latter depends on how small your digits are. The Android keyboard can be a frustrating beast at times, no matter how big it gets.

Powered by Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine, colours are natural and the brightness is pretty good. Not so great is the resolution, which is 480x320 pixels, but it's just about adequate unless you spend a lot of time looking at photographs or HD video.

Camera and video

Firing up the camera reveals a relatively capable experience. Digital zoom, autofocus and a LED flash provide you with all the basics, and the quality in bright conditions is good. The contrast is strong and colours look reasonably accurate, too, and we liked how it very quickly detected faces when taking portrait photographs.

Video is 720p quality, and we were pleasantly surprised how good it was considering the Xperia Go costs £220 SIM-free. It adjusted quickly to light changes and even with fast movement it kept blur manageable. Minus its inability to light up subjects when the background is very bright, we were happy with how our test videos looked.

Specifications

Typical Price £220
UK Launch July, 2012
Frequency GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Phone Style HSDPA 900 / 2100 - ST27i, HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100 - ST27a
Thickness 9.8mm
Length 111mm
Width 60.3mm
Weight 110g
Built-in Memory 8GB (4GB usable), 512 MB of RAM
High-speed Data HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth
Screen Size 3.5-inches, 320x480 pixels (165ppi)
Screen Colours 16 million
Camera 5-megapixel with autofocus
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 2592x1944
Zoom 16x digital
Flash LED
Video Resolution 720p at 30 frames-per-second, continuous autofocus, video light, video stabiliser
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV player
Song Storage 8GB (4GB user available)
Radio Stereo FM with RDS
Speaker Yes
Video Calling No
Internet Yes
Browser HTLM 5, Adobe Flash
Games No, but downloadable form Google Play
Battery Standby Up to 520 hours (2G) / Up to 460 hours (3G)

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