Sony Ericsson mobile phone buying guide

A guide to buying a Sony Ericsson smartphone

Sony Ericsson is probably best known for its Walkman range of mobile phones, which were popular before the rise of smartphones. Today, it mainly focuses on producing smartphones running the Google Android software platform with its XPERIA brand.

Sony Ericsson Android phones

Although the likes of HTC and Samsung are widely considered one of the leading Android phone manufacturers, Sony Ericsson does hold one advantage over both of these competitors: where both HTC and Samsung also produce Windows Phone 7 smartphones, Sony Ericsson focuses almost solely on the Android platform for its smartphones. This allows it to pour most of its resources into the Google basket.

The XPERIA brand is Sony Ericsson's dedicated line of Android phones. It came about in early 2010 with the launch of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 — the company's first Android phone. It had a 4in screen, which at the time was one of the largest on the market, and was also powered by an impressive 1GHz processor. However, it was widely acknowledged to have many niggling software issues, particularly in regards to slow performance when using Sony Ericsson's Timescape application. This was a central timeline of events on both your phone and social-networking sites like Facebook.

Sony Ericsson issued a number of software updates to improve the performance of the XPERIA X10, but these were quickly nullified by faster, improved Android smartphones from competitors. The XPERIA X10 launched on Telstra, Optus and Vodafone in Australia, and was still currently sold on all three networks up until the last few months.

The X10 was clearly a core focus for Sony Ericsson, as from that spawned the XPERIA X10 Mini and the XPERIA X10 Mini Pro. Both phones were roughly the size of a credit card with the only difference being the X10 Mini Pro's slide-out keyboard. The XPERIA X10 Mini was sold through Optus in Australia, while the X10 Mini Pro was available through Telstra and Vodafone; the latter still sells the Mini Pro even more than a year after its release.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 hit the shelves soon after through Optus (and later through Vodafone), and offered a similar user experience to the smaller XPERIA X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro handsets. Like those phones however, it shipped with an outdated version of the Android operating system.

Sony Ericsson's latest Android phones are much improved over earlier models. The XPERIA Arc is a particular highlight, as it measures just 8.7mm thick at the thinnest part of its body, features a unique concave design, and has a new display technology dubbed the Mobile Bravia Engine. Sony Ericsson claims this offers better video performance and image quality. The Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc is currently sold in Australia through Optus and Vodafone.

Sony Ericsson also currently sells the XPERIA Neo and XPERIA Play Android phones in Australia. The XPERIA Neo is a Telstra-exclusive that has a 3.7in "reality" display, an 8-megapixel rear camera that doubles as a 720p HD video recorder, and a built-in HDMI port. It also has an Exmor R camera sensor that claims to take better photographs in low light.

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play has been dubbed the 'PlayStation phone' and features a 4in multitouch display, a touch-sensitive joystick, a D-pad and four of the PlayStation's famous control buttons; triangle, square, circle and X. It is sold through all Australian carriers — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

Other Sony Ericsson phones

Sony Ericsson also sells a small range of non-smartphones, otherwise known affectionately as "dumb phones". These usually use a very basic version of the Sony Ericsson proprietary operating system and are ideally targeted at pre-paid or low-end users with small budgets.

Recent examples of these low-end Sony Ericsson phones include the T715, the Naite and the Cedar, the latter two of which are manufactured from recyclable materials, ship without a physical user guide and use a charger that minimises power consumption.

Sony Ericsson also has plans to release future phones running its own operating system — the Sony Ericsson txt, Mix Walkman and txt pro.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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