It’s taken a while to emerge, but the Sony Ericsson Neo is finally with us. Shipments of this Xperia-branded Android device were delayed by the recent natural disaster in Japan, but now that it’s here we’re pleased to report that it’s been worth the wait. We’re giving you a little taster of what this likable mid-range device is capable of, and we’ll be following it up with the usual exhaustive FoneArena review in the not-too-distant future.
Looking at the Xperia Neo for the first time calls to mind one of its recently-launched brothers, the PlayStation-certified Xperia Play. Front the front, the two phones look very much alike, with only the missing ‘search’ button and enlarged front-facing camera standing out as key differences. The Neo shares the Play’s metal-effect plastic sides, too – although around the back, it’s a different story.
The Neo boasts a cool gradient effect on its battery cover, and the unit we looked at featured a black and metallic blue combination. We wouldn’t begin to suggest that it will be to everyone’s tastes, but it certainly tickled our fancy.
The Neo’s 3.7-inch screen may not be as big as the ones seen on the Play and Arc, but the Bravia Mobile tech Sony Ericsson has used grants impressive image quality. When placed alongside its sibling the Xperia Play – which is saddled with quite a dull screen – the difference is striking.
Which is just as well, because the photos and video captured by the Neo’s 8-megapixel camera need a good display to do them justice. The Exmor-R CMOS back-lit sensor is nothing short of breathtaking, and snaps astonishingly detailed photos. Even at this preview stage, we’re quite happy to say that it’s one of the best mobile phone cameras we’ve ever witnessed. Here are three photo samples taken with the XPERIA Neo.
Like the Arc, the Neo is also capable of recording in 720p HD. Again, the excellent screen allows your movies to really come to life, and the HDMI-out port at the top of the handset means you can hook it up to your telly and share images, videos and even games with the family.
Beating at the heart of this multimedia powerhouse is a fairly humble 1Ghz processor, which could leave some of you feeling disappointed. However, it’s important to remember that Sony Ericsson is positioning this as a mid-range Android handset, so it’s unrealistic to expect it to contain the latest dual-core CPU tech – especially when you consider that you’re getting such a great screen and camera for the price.
The Sony Ericsson-skinned Android 2.3 interface is very much the same as it was on the Play and Arc; the changes that have been made are subtle, and aside from a few annoying ‘bloatware’ applications installed by the manufacturer, it runs swiftly and reasonably crash-free.
As a mid-range Android phone, the Neo is going to be facing off against the likes of the HTC Wildfire S, Samsung Galaxy Ace and the HTC Desire S. It’s certainly more than a match for all of those handsets based on what we’ve seen so far, but as always we’d suggest you wait for our final verdict before splashing our your hard-earned cash.
Damien McFerran is a tech and video game journalist who has contributed to Eurogamer, Pocket Gamer, GamesTM and Retro Gamer. He’s also the editor-in-chief of Nintendo Life, one of the net’s biggest Nintendo-centric websites