[Review] Sony Xperia Mini - The Little Black Stallion
I bought this phone last week, from a retail store- not from Flipkart.com. I'm a little hesitant about buying from online stores, mainly due to some of the negative experiences from eBay and LynxIndia. I've heard Flipkart is a much better reliable service, but still wasn't keen on trialing it out for something as expensive as this.
Anyway, while I was hunting for a phone, I came across this and its fatter, keyboard enabled brother, the Pro version. The addition of a keyboard tempted me to get that, but I tried both out at a store and felt it was heavy, fat (though less of a problem) and I was concerned about the longevity of the build quality (slider)- I usually buy phones to use for more than 3-4 years. Tempting though the keyboard was, I decided to play safe and grab the little-r dude.
And I haven't regretted my choice one bit.
It's a bloody damn good phone, and I can't believe the fact the SE is giving it out for so cheap. The interface is so slick and snappy, its as responsive as an iPhone- and this baby is powered by a 1ghz Snapdragon processor coupled with 512mb of ram. That alone makes the phone a big pleasure to sure, and is a joy to simply toy around with. I'm a newcomer to Android; directly coming from the substandard OS of the Samsung Jet- and I'm totally loving the experience Android is giving me- everything is animated, everything is so responsive, and everything just works! It gives me the freedom that none of the other OSes have so far managed to present. The multitude of free useful apps out there are so powerful, and allows me to take simple tasks that I perform on my desktop (like checking mail, a bit of FBing, RSS feeds etc) on the go- and the flexibility and feature set they provide me with is plain wonderful. Its intuition at its best, and something that could easily be taken for granted and get used to.
Build quality is decent, with the rubber backing providing ample grip (you get a spare cover, but that is slippery as hell). The front face is a fingerprint magnet, though I don't care much about that, since its as simple as wiping it on your sleeve. Its not Gorilla glass, but its something very similar, and does the job well. I appreciate the fact the Sony has embedded the camera deeper into the chassis- making it much less prone to scratches. The small form factor turned heads everywhere, and I personally love how it feels overall.
A lot of people complain about the small screen, which is measured at 3' diagonally. Personally, I don't understand why people want TV-sized displays on their phones- whether it is for showing off about who owns the biggest screen or something else is another concern. I'm perfectly happy with the screen size, its portable and very usable. Text is very sharp and readable, and I'm surprised they managed to give it so much clarity despite the relatively modest resolution. Pictures look crisp and poppy, videos did not experience any form of ghosting. True, the smaller screen does mean that typing would be a bit difficult- but its something I quickly got used to. Coupled with Gesture input (alss known as SWYPE), it made for a fun and intuitive typing experience. The screen is a downgrade for me from my previous phone, the Samsung Jet, which was the same at 3' diagonally, but had a tighter resolution of 800x480. It was an AMOLED as well, and I could notice the huge difference in quality, though it never posed as a deal breaker for me.
Media wise, I can't comment too much, since I typically don't use my phone for even listening to music. I'm a portable player addict and use my Sansa Clip+ for all my audio needs, and pretty much wont replace it anytime soon. However, considering this phone comes from Sony, you would know what to expect :) Video playback is definitely astounding for such a smaller screen, with no gradation or stuttering to be seen. The screen is definitely a plus, with the colors being so vivid, poppy and lively. It comes with the Mobile version of the Bravia engine and I assume its a good thing, but I haven't seen that drastic a difference to leave it on for a long time. The default screen engine does me good anyway.
Camera is great for a phone, for all those quick occasional snaps; the reload time is fast, less than a second. Picture quality is nice for the most part, as long as you have ample ambient lighting- which is where I would have a little qualm. At night its pretty much impossible to capture a frozen shot; lots of blurs, focus hunts and grains affect your experience. The flash doesn't help all that much as well, but atleast its there. Video quality is nice, with it defaulting to 720p (playing it on a computer revealed that the 480p enabled Jet had better sharpness and detail). There is a definitive lack of continuous focus though. All in all, I'm satisfied with the camera as it wasn't my primary concern anyway- and I get the feeling that I got more than what I paid for anyway, and that's definitely a good thing.
As for battery life, the first couple of charge cycles were pretty much disastrous- I was playing with my phone all the time when I got it, and I didn't pass 20-23 hours with moderate usage (I was spoilt by the 4 day juice the Jet gave me, but it was useless at best). Things improved drastically since then; currently on my 6th cycle, I get a days worth of extensive usage which includes data being continuously on, Facebook, RSS, Gmail and Twitter syncs, 30-45 minutes of calls, occasional sms's and some gaming. Leaving the phone on to minimal usage (sms's, 10-15mins of calls, little to no browsing, sync is off) I got 2 days out of it. My friend owns the same phone, and is on his 20th charge cycle, and gets roughly 3 days of moderate usage. From this experience, I can say is that the big game reviewers exaggerate things, and if they can't compromise on little things like these, I don't know what to say. All I can advice is to be a little conservative, and you won't be disappointed.
In short, I'm ridiculously happy with my purchase and would gladly recommend this beauty to anyone looking for a small, versatile and usable phone.
PS: In case you do buy it, don't forget to root it so that you can remove all the bloatware that comes preinstalled :)
Yes, I bought this little phone a couple of days and I'm very happy with it. I use it all the day but the battery is a little short. I need to charge it almost each day. I listen my favorite songs and the sound is not so bad. I just use it most for sms and phone call.
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