Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo review

Good-qualty mid-range Android 2.3 smartphone with a great camera
Photo of Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo
£350 , SIM-free, free on contracts from £26 on Vodafone

The Xperia Neo is another Android based smartphone from Sony Ericsson. This handset sits in the middle of the range, and is more pocket-friendly than the big-screened Xperia Arc we reviewed recently. Our review sample came from Vodafone and had a fantastic deep blood red chassis.

Designed for right-handers?
It isn’t always an easy thing to design a smartphone that’s as convenient to use for left-handers as right-handers. Sony Ericsson seems to have abandoned that goal all together here, bunching its side controls exclusively on the right edge. There, you’ll find the power button/screen lock, camera button and volume rocker.

Overall, though, the design of this smartphone is smashing. The outward curves at the top and bottom of the chassis look great, and the physical shortcut buttons beneath the screen for Home, Back and Menu functions are a pleasant change from touch-sensitive ones. Three buttons make for a nice look, though the absence of an Android Search button may irritate some people.

Smile, please
The Neo is equipped with a good 8-megapixel camera, which captured some superb images for us. The small LED flash isn’t up to much, though – and we’d have liked more shooting modes. But outdoors in good light, the camera does really well.

The Neo will record 720p video too, and the mini-HDMI connector that sits under a cover on the top edge of the chassis means you can output your footage to a large screen. You’ll need to provide a cable, though, as Sony Ericsson doesn’t bundle one. There’s also a front-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing.

Decent performance
Another big plus point of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo is its screen. Sharp and bright, at 3.7in and with 854×480 pixels, it’s just about large enough for serious web browsing and video viewing. It’s responsive under the fingers, too.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo runs Android 2.3, code-named Gingerbread, so it’s bang up to date in that respect. A 1GHz processor does a good job of propelling the handset and of course you’ve got Wi-Fi, HSDPA and GPS included, along with an 8GB microSD card to boost the 320MB of internal storage.

The Android skin is fairly low-key and there are five home screens to fill with widgets. Timescape makes an appearance here, of course, and is one widget you can choose. We’re not really fans. Timescape brings together Facebook, Twitter and SMS messages into one place, but is a little clunky for our tastes. You can ignore it completely if it doesn’t appeal. We did.

Company: Sony Ericsson

Website: http://www.sonyericsson.com/

Contact: Vodafone on 08080 408 408

Positives
  • Neat hardware design; great camera.
Negative
  • Side buttons are clustered on the right - not great for left-handers.

Verdict

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo is a nice little handset that deserves to be a success. It is perhaps a tad overpriced currently, though - so keep an eye out for a price drop.