Although at one point Walkman phones were special, that period of time is long gone. Modern-day smartphones, even the more basic handsets, include music playback so your mobile can double up as your music player.
With that in mind, it is up to other features to separate a handset from the crowd, and in the case of the Spiro, it’s the price. The Spiro is purchasable for under £40, which makes it accessible to all but the stingiest consumer.
Unfortunately, cheap and cheerful means sacrifices have to be made, and one fundamental issue is the lack of W-Fi connectivity. We’ve become rather partial to it, and its absence is all too noticeable.
Still, in its effort to remain cheap, the Spiro is remarkably simple in how it looks. Sturdy, cute in a way that only plastic animate objects can be, and ergonomic to hold. Aside from the our black test handset picking up dust and other unwanted particles and displaying them with equal zeal, the Spiro feels nicer than its price tag would suggest.
Sliding out the number pad continues the theme of sturdiness, and the buttons themselves are sensibly placed, and easy to press without feeling flimsy or giving no feedback. They also light up making night/low-light use possible.
On the front of the handset, below the screen, are a variety of buttons. Surrounded by a silver circle outline are five dedicated to your music playback needs. The centre plays and pauses tracks, left and right skips forward and backwards, respectively, and the top opens the Walkman player.
Like with the number pad, we found using the buttons relatively painless, if a little cramped at times. Also, the volume buttons feature halfway up on the right side, which makes them awkward to reach when in the hand. However, the small niggles are hardly a deal-breaker, and on the whole we enjoyed using it.
Included is a 2-megapixel camera, which may not have a flash, but it actually returns reasonable results. That is, if the light conditions are bright and you don’t get too close to your subject. We didn’t expect much so the quality surprised us, and being able to easily swap between video and photo is a nice, practical touch. Being able to easily share your pictures cinches the deal.
The Walkman player is hardly going to revolutionise music playback, but like on other similar Sony Ericsson models, it does the job reliably and will be instantly familiar, much like the operating system. It is easy to use, and will allow you to download music and ringtones, but only if you have a GPSR or Edge connection. The lack of 3G, like Wi-Fi as mentioned above, puts a downer on the proceedings.
Where this handset falls down, it makes up for with other handy features. The more expensive Zylo decides a 3.5mm jack for headphones and earphones isn’t something the user wants, but the Spiro disagrees. Its 2.2-inch screen is also a pleasure to look at.
Sadly, both share the same included headphones that should be ditched as soon as possible. When you can get a set like the Sennheiser CX 300-IIs for just over a tenner, this is no excuse to suffer.
And in terms of performance, certain functions like sending images grind the OS to a halt, albeit not for long, but the pauses are noticeable.
The final major issue is storage. Sony Ericsson has included just 5MB of internal space, which will do about two songs. There is a microSD card slot, but not having one from out of the box is hardly ideal. Surely the inclusion of 1GB would have not been too big a stretch?
We could continue to look at other little niggles, but to do so would be unfair. Besides the issues outlined, the Sony Ericsson is actually quite capable. £40 does not get you massively far in this day and age, and coupled with its free price on very cheap contracts, it would be unfair to ask for the earth.
If you are in the market for a simple, easy to use Sony Ericsson, and the lack of 3G and Wi-Fi doesn’t bother you, or perhaps a younger loved one needs their first mobile, the Spiro fits the bill.
And considering far superior handsets like the K800i remain almost double the price, the little Spiro most definitely has a place in the market.