Sony Ericsson Xperia pro

Naturally, the Xperia Pro is geared toward a slightly different sort of customer than the Xperia Play. Instead of slide-out gaming controls, it gets a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. That’s simply one of the biggest differentiating factors that makes this smartphone unlike other Xperia devices and increasingly unlike other Android smartphones in general.
As far as the core specs are concerned, you’ll find a Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon 1GHz processor to go along with 1GB of internal memory, 3.7-inch 480×854 pixel LED backlit LCD capacitive touchscreen, 512MB RAM, 8MP camera, Android 2.3 Gingerbread, accelerometer, Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine, microSD extension, and front-facing VGA videocall camera. It gets the usual smattering of Stereo FM, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, GPS with aGPS, and HSDPA 7.2 along with HSUPA 5.8.

First Impression:
Not unlike the Google Nexus S, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro has a glossy and smooth plastic exterior. Some people may believe that such a finish feels cheap, but that’s largely a matter of individual preference.
The sliding mechanism for the keyboard feels robust and the three buttons along the bottom are typical of the Xperia line. I’m personally not a fan of these “slim” buttons, but they’re a relatively minor quibble. Performance appears to be improved over earlier Xperia smartphones and the overall size, while not all that compact, is a touch slighter than some of the larger Android “superphones” that have flooded the market.

With the exception of just a handful of handsets, the majority of Android smartphones these days do not have physical keyboards. This will easily be a draw for fans of tactile feedback. The good news is that the QWERTY keyboard on the Xperia pro is quite good.
I still wouldn’t actually want to use it to type out an extensive academic paper or anything like that, but it’s fantastic for e-mail messages, text messages, and even little blog posts. The keys offer a soft surface and they are slightly domed. Coupled with the decent spacing, it’s really easy to type based on feel. It should be noted that the keys are not arranged in a slightly staggered fashion, like how you’d find on a computer keyboard; they’re in a great grid. So, this may take a few getting used to for some folks, but I thought it was pretty great.

To get a sense of the performance of this phone, I ran it through the Quadrant Standard Edition benchmark. The first run through only rendered a score of 1400, but subsequent trials earned scores of 1654 and 1685. That’s a exact step above the Nexus One (1300), but simply below dual-core alternatives like the Atrix (2281).
As far as the network speeds on the Fido network, I used the Speedtest Mobile app. The ping was anywhere from 107ms to 128ms. Download speeds ranged from 5881kbps to 6891kbps, putting it close to the theoretical 7.2Mbps cap on HSDPA. The upload speeds were polite too, ranging from 1089kbps to 1193kbps.

Sony Ericsson is a large company, to be sure, but it’s still not among the top-tier when it comes to Android smartphones. That upper level is probably still held by HTC and Samsung, possibly with an admirable mention to Motorola.
The Xperia pro continues with that kind of tradition. It’s not going to win any awards and it’s not going to floor you with its presentation. What it is going to provide you is a more than adequate Android experience at a sensible price. The 1GHz processor feels dated compared to its current dual core (and soon to be quad core) competition, but it gets the job done.

Nokia Asha 303


The Nokia Asha 303 feels pretty fine in the hand, thanks to its curved back and tapered sides, plus the quite respectful yet not overbearing thickness. The portrait QWERTY keyboard half is recessed below the upper screen region, as if you are dealing with a slider at first look. Overall the phone has a bit chubby, but very lightweight and sturdy construction, incorporating a little premium elements like the metal battery cover. It comes in a selection of colors.


The 2.6” capacitive touch display is a first for the Series 40 line. Its colors seem pale, and brightness is about average, so using it in the sun is a small piece of a chore.

The 240x320 pixels of resolution is pretty low by any standard, so even on this small size the poor 154ppi density makes interface elements look pixelated. Horizontal viewing angles are pretty bad, while the vertical ones are decent, and overall the display does the job.


The Asha range sports the same 3MP fixed-focus camera in the whole lineup, and the 303 is no omission. It doesn't have a flash on the rear.

The touch interface is decent, with big buttons that make accessing the camera functions simple. Most of the basics like white balance and exposure adjustments are here, and there is face recognition, a little effects and funny frames thrown in for a good measure. The phone has a Sequence mode, which allows you to take up to five shots in rapid succession. The 
pictures themselves turned out decent in terms of color illustration and white balance measurements, but quite soft and a bit light on detail to be considered anything above average. Inside photos get even softer and noise ratchets up. Since the camera is fixed-focus, macro shots are out of the question with the phone as well.


The music player got touch controls, but otherwise keeps a very similar interface to its previous version. It is pretty purposeful as it is, with cover art, equalizers and song categorization support. One of the few advantages when you have a thick phone is that you can fit a more potent loudspeaker in it, and the one in the Asha 303 is certainly very strong and clear, and could serve as an improvised boombox.

The handset has a decent video player, too, this time improved with DivX/Xvid format support out of the box. It plays those vids up to 640x360 resolution, but if your file is above 700MB, the handset would refuse to take it for a spin.

Call quality is rather clear in the earpiece, although we wish there was a tad more strength. The other side said they could hear us well, with no unpleasant crackling or distortions. The phone supports call recording, and, as we mentioned, has a very strong loudspeaker, so you are unlikely to miss a call with it.

Nokia specifies the
 1300mAh battery in the Asha 303 for 7 hours of talk time in 3G mode, over a month of standby, and two days of continuous music playback. 

HTC Status

If RIM were to have made a white BlackBerry, it might look like the HTC Status. Weighing in at 4.2 ounces, the 4.5 x 2.5 x 0.4-inch Status fit easily into our pocket. And with its dirt free lines and rounded corners, the handset has a touch of futuristic elegance.

One of the more attractive design accents is that the keyboard curves upward slightly, allowing the phone to rest comfortably against our face during phone calls.

Most of the front is a silvery metal, with a white plastic QWERTY keyboard and chin. The white plastic dominates the back, but it's separated by a metal band. Directly above the keyboard sit the call and end call buttons. The blue Facebook button rests in the bottom-right corner.

A 5-megapixel camera with flash and a smaller speaker occupy the Status' rear, while a headphone jack and the power button sit up top. The left side of the phone houses a long silver volume button and a USB port. A 2GB microSD card is located beneath the battery, which wouldn't be so bad if removing the silver battery cover wasn't like breaking into Fort Knox. It took us 10 minutes to remove the cover, with each attempt making us feel like we were on the verge of destroying the phone.

Not only does the position have a small 2.6-inch screen, but its low 480 x 320-pixel resolution made text hard to read. Watching video wasn't very fun. The darker space scenes in Katy Perry's "E.T." video were barely visible, while the normally vivid colors appeared muted. We also had problem making out the screen outdoors on a bright sunny day.

Aside from Facebook, the position has several other useful apps. We found the Mirror app good for checking our teeth after lunch. HTC Hub breaks down the Android Market into manageable categories including Apps, Plugins, Ringtones, and Wallpapers. HTC Likes makes shopping for apps more public: It lists featured and most-popular apps and allows shoppers to remark and share with friends.

further apps include AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Navigator, Google Maps, Live TV, Twitter, and YouTube.

In order to help those migrating from an older Android device, the Status has an app called Transfer, which will move relations, SMS, and calendar events to the Status via Bluetooth. When we tried using this app with an HTC EVO 4G, it took more than 20 minutes to move just a quarter of our information.

The 5-megapixel camera performed better than expected in my tests. My snapshots came out crisp and clear, though colors did seem a bit washed out. I also had some trouble capturing moving subjects. Video clips looked polite, too.

The camera offers some special effects -- you can, for example, apply filters such a sepia and aqua tones to your snaps. And the phone also includes a forward-facing VGA camera for self portraits.

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