Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V

Before the invasion of the iPhone and Android phones, Sony Ericsson's ‘Walkman’ phones ruled the multimedia handset segment; most of them were the best in class, in terms of multimedia capabilities. When Android came out, Sony Ericsson was a bit hesitant not only to adopt the new OS but the 'smartphone' in general; the result? Their sales plummeted and Sony Ericsson collapsed to the No. 6 spot from No. 3 in terms of market share. Motorola was in a similar situation, but they realized the potential of Android like Samsung and never had to look back since then. Better late than never, Sony Ericsson finally decided to move onto Android and hence Xperia was born. The Neo V is the latest kid in the Xperia block to hit the Indian market (It is the successor of Xperia Neo, which was never officially released in India). Will Sony Ericsson be able to catch up with the likes of Samsung, LG and Motorola and reclaim their old spot? Let’s find that out, shall we?

First Impression:

What I have with me is the ‘blue gradient' Xperia Neo V (not the most flattering of the three, the other two being White and Silver). It looks quite nice, at least until you pick it up and start messing around with it. It has glossy finish, so obviously it is a fingerprint magnet (but it won’t be too much of an issue with the other colors). It is all plastic (so not so heavy), but the problem is that SE has taken it to the next level, you won’t find even a tiny bit of metal anywhere, except may be the screws.

It feels very cheap and sometimes you can even hear the creaks from the plastic, something you may find only in some cheap toys (I expected a lot more, for a phone at this price range, it feels awfully cheap). The phones is a bit chunky and quite narrow (116 x 57 x 13 mm), so if you have small hands (ladies..You hear me?), then using it one handedly is going to be quite troublesome. The most awful thing is the charger and HDMI port covers (not the first time I’m seeing one of these in a handset, but with the Neo, there is a good chance that you might actually tear them off when you pull it, if not careful).
Note:  The plastic used in the Neo V seems to be better than what I expected, it certainly feels cheap (maybe the glossy finish) but the body did survived some abuse (so not bad after all). 

Take off the back cover and voila… there is no sign of any metal here too. You have to push the SIM into compartment (hopefully it stays there) and do the same for memory cards as well (to take it out you have to give it a push and then shake it off from the phone, oh god !). So the Neo V failed to impress me with its build, with cost cutting written everywhere.

Note: The SE phones are going to be a lot 'plasticky' from now on, the 50% of the material is made from recycled plastic ( so get over the 'plastic only' body; But still.. they could have made it a bit better, the fit and finish with the non-recycled 50% can be better, right ? :B )

Display and Touch Interface:
The Xperia Neo V has a 3.7” LED backlit capacitive touch Gorilla 'scratch resistant' (thanks Neeraj) display with Bravia Engine, but is it good enough? The answer is yes; though not as good as the Super AMOLED from Samsung, it actually looks quite nice, the colors are pretty natural, it is sharp and brightness and detail is spot on. I’m not sure about what the Bravia Engine does (they say it is an image processor, which basically enhances the colors), turning it off didn’t make any noticeable changes but I guess it might come in handy when you are using the HDMI. The capacitive touch display is very responsive and it didn’t miss any of my inputs; impressive. There is a built in dictionary (which gives suggestions as you type on top of the keyboard) and ‘swype’ too is integrated, so no problems here.

The Neo V’s camera has been degraded to a 5 Mp generic sensor, from the Neo’s 8 Mp Schneider optics sensor. The images are compressed to under 1Mb, so a bit disappointed with the quality of the images. The camera button is two stage (just like in a digital camera, you press it half way to focus and press it all the way to release the shutter) and the AF is reasonably fast. There is an LED light if you need a bit more light when taking some close-ups. The Camera App lets you select metering mode, white balance, Exposure Compensation and there is a scene selector if you want to use presets. The secondary VGA camera in the front for video calls has acceptable quality although there is noticeable noise in medium lighting.

The Neo V lets you capture 720p(1280x720) videos at 30fps, with image stabilization (the video isn’t that jerky) and you can apply most of the settings for camera here too. Sony Ericsson has also integrated their 3D sweep panorama app which lets you capture 3D panorama (and view it on a Bravia 3D TV) by panning the camera and stitching up the pictures into one wide image. (It looked 2D to me, but it may have some gimmick to make it 3D once you plug it into a 3D TV).

Sample Images From Neo V:


Audio and Mic:
One word;  Friggin' Awesome (okay, that is two words :P). The speakers are loud and produce clear sound even at high volume. The speakerphone is loud too and there is a second mic on the back of the phone for noise cancellation (and it works). The bundled earphones are not ‘In Ear’ types but you don’t want to spoil the exceptional audio qualities of the Neo V with crappy headphones, do you ? (I tested it with MEelectronics M6 IEM’s, and oh boy! It is something you don’t want to miss. I have my trusted old partner, the Nokia Xpress Music 5700, and the Neo V delivers an equally impressive sound quality).

The Neo V is powered by a 1500mAh battery, which lasts for almost a day under medium usage. Sony Ericsson has thrown in a lot of widgets to turn off stuff that eats up the battery like backlighting, bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, Data Transfer etc. You can disable the Bravia Engine too, if you don’t need it.

Out of everything the Neo V has to offer, these are my favorites. The HDMI works flawless and you can pretty much do everything with it (games, browsing, videos…awesome). The best thing ? You can use your TV remote (if the TV supports it) for controlling the phone (Whooohoooo). Although SE hasn’t advertised USB On-The-Go support, it is there and you can use any USB OTG cables (Nokia cables works just fine) to connect USB keyboards, mice, gamepad etc (but beware of the fact that, prolonged use of these can fry the IC chip), so using the ‘live-dock’ is the safer option.

UI and Apps:
The Xperia Neo V runs on Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) out of the box. The Facebook on Xperia lets you share the apps you are using with your friends (not let them use it, but let them know you are using it, like if you want to flaunt any new app before your friends, then you can do it by doing a long press on the app icon and then dragging it into the notification bar), and you can merge the contacts fetched from Gmail and Facebook with the phone contacts (If all your friends are on Facebook, then don’t copy over the contacts from your old phone, it’ll pull the details from Facebook and save you the trouble). You can sync albums in your phone with Facebook, if you like to share everything you click on Facebook automatically.


The Timescape app and widget uses a cover flow like infinite loop to present you the recent updates from Facebook, Twitter and Message Inbox and it is all integrated with the ‘Facebook on Xperia’, meaning you can tap on one of these are it’ll take you to the contacts and you can then view his likes, photos etc. The 1GHz processor and Adreno 205 GPU can take on some graphic intensive apps and there aren’t any noticeable lags to speak of.

There are lot of pretty useless bloatware bundled with the phone (which sadly cannot be removed using the stock app manager), consuming your valuable internal memory (you won’t have the luxury of a large internal memory, SE feels that you don’t need anything more than ~320 MB internal memory, so bad news if you are an app freak). The phone comes with a 7 Day trial of McAfee Mobile Security app which has antivirus, tracking, locking and remote erasing, backup all built into one single app (but you can pick up free apps which can do these individually from the marketplace). There is also a 30 day trial navigation app (Wisepilot), which works quite well. (but I like mapmyindia app more, which offers a much less one time payment option).

Final Verdict:
If you can get past the crappy build quality (which I have to anyway, since I bought the phone :B) then the SE Xperia Neo V is one hell of a multimedia phone priced very reasonably (Less than INR 17,000).  You get HDMI (cable is bundled), Ice Cream Sandwich Update (Sony Ericsson promised ICS for its entire 2011 Xperia lineup), awesome audio quality, and a very nice display. If build is very important to you then some other phones worth waiting for are: Samsung Galaxy W, LG Sole, HTC Rhythm etc.

Full Spec:
Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V:
3.7 inch reality display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine
480 x 854 pixels resolution
Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) OS
1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 Processor
5 megapixel camera with LED flash
Front facing VGA camera
HD video (720p) recording
FM radio with RDS
3.5 mm audio jack
GPS with aGPS
DLNA Certified,  HDMI support
Up to 320 MB internal memory, 512 MB RAM
MicroSD card slot (32 GB expandabe)
Up to 31 hrs music playback time
Up to 7 hrs 25 min video playback time
Up to 6 hrs 55 min talk-timr
Up to 430 hrs stand-by time
1500 mAh battery


Related Posts