By November 12, 2009

Sony Ericsson Satio Review

It’s only been a few weeks since I did the review of the Samsung Pixon 12 and already I have another 12 mega pixel camera phone to put through its paces; The Sony Ericsson Satio. Will it be as good as the Samsung?

 

Sony Ericsson Satio

Sony Ericsson Satio

 

 

The ten second review:

Device: Sony Ericsson Satio

Cost: £453.09

Summary: Feature packed Symbian S60 device with a 12 MP camera

Best of: Camera, A-GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G

Worst of: No 3.5mm headset jack. No Quick Office license.

 

What’s in the box:

  • Device
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • Headphones
  • Stylus
  • TV-Out cable
  • Manual/Warranty

 

Sony Ericsson Satio Specification:

  • Operating System – Symbian OS
  • Display – 3.5 inch Touch screen (360×640 pixels) with accelerometer
  • Operating Frequency – GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 & UMTS/HSDPA 900 / 2100
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g DLNA
  • Bluetooth V2.0 with A2DP
  • GPS – Built in GPS & A-GPS
  • Expansion – microSD
  • Camera images geo-tagging, face and smile detection
  • Google maps
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Camera – 12.1 MP, 4256 x 2832 pixels, autofocus, xenon flash, video, video LED flash, secondary VGA videocall camera
  • Dimensions – 112.0 x 55.0 x 13.0 mm
  • Weight – 126g

 

General:

On the top of the device is the power on/off switch and what looks like a small speaker grill.

 

Sony Ericsson Satio-top

Sony Ericsson Top

The left side of the handset contains the lock switch, charging socket and the microSD card slot. All shiny, shiny!

Sony Ericsson Satio-left

Sony Ericsson Satio Left Side

On the right is the up/down rocker, the camera action button, the view photos button and a button that switches between video and camera.

Sony Ericsson Satio-right

Sony Ericsson Satio Right Side

The rear of the device houses the camera lens and a nice Sony Ericsson logo.

Sony Ericsson Satio-back-closed Sony Ericsson Satio-back-open

Sony Ericsson from the rear

On the front of the Satio is the front facing camera, speaker grill and light sensor at the top. At the bottom are the call send/end keys and the menu button.

Satio-front

Sony Ericsson Front

Highlights:

  • A-GPS & WisePilot
  • Connectivity
  • Camera

 

Lowlights:

  • Lack of 3.5mm headset jack
  • Symbian OS – personal thing this, but I’m not a fan.

 

Review:

Taking the Satio out of the box for the first time I was amazed how nice it looked. From the front and back it is solid black in colour but around the left and right sides it has a nice metal strip that is super shiny. It certainly looks as much like a digital camera as it does a phone. I was a little disappointed when I held the Satio in my hand though and for more than one reason. Although the device is heavy this has never been an issue for me. What is an issue though is that it is so uncomfortable to hold. The corners of the device are rounded but as it sits in the hand those corners kind of dig it and it just doesn’t feel good. Its a little top heavy due to the camera lens and this part of the device is really chunky. Due to the smooth finish Sony Ericsson have chosen for the plastic casing the Satio is quite slippery. A bit too slippery for my liking!

 

Dominating the front of the device is the 3.5 inch resistive touch screen which is nice and sensitive and works well. You are also supplied with a stylus to use on screen in case you cant find your fingers! Below the screen are three buttons. These are the send/end keys as well as a menu button in the middle. Although these buttons all worked they are horrible! They are raised slightly and more so in the middle of each button and have to be the thinnest buttons I have ever seen on a phone. They just don’t feel right. Where the Sony Ericsson Satio makes up for this is on the buttons around the edge of the device. You would have seen the positioning of these in the “General” section of the review so I am not going to detail it again here but what I can say is that they are great. They are all metal and both look and feel high class. I’m not sure how Sony Ericsson managed to go from one end of the scale to the other on the Satio but that’s just the way it is.

The Satio runs Simians S60 5th edition UI and I have never been a fan. In fact its my least liked out of all, however I must say that I defiantly preferred using it on the Satio compared to the Nokia phones I have tried it on. In fact I didn’t actually realise at first it was Symbian!

The home screen on the Sony Ericsson Satio is really nice and gives quick access to a lot of features. At the top of the screen are five tabs. The comprise of (from left to right) favourite contacts, browser bookmarks, home (in the middle), photos and shortcuts. What is nice about these is that to access them you have two options. Firstly you can just press the required one but in addition to this you can also swipe the screen left or right, kind of like the way that Android devices operate.

The shortcut tab lists eight further features. These are profiles, TrackID, Google maps, Wi-Fi Wizard, Bluetooth, Conversations, Notes and Radio. A nice combination.

 

At the bottom of the home screen are a further four tabs. These are phone dialler, media, messaging and search.

The phone dialler produces nice big keys and these give a small bit of haptic feedback when pressed. You cant really go wrong here.

The media tab drops you straight into photos, videos and music and I really like these features:

  • Photos: Once in the photo section you are given a further five options – latest photo, camera album, photo tags, web albums and pictures. This is not only where you can view pictures and photographs but also action them. Below the image you are viewing you have the option to delete it or send it via message, Bluetooth or upload to the web. There is also an options tab. This will allow you to zoom in and out, print via USB, edit the photo, attach to a contact, use as wallpaper, tag the image and also view in a slide show. At any point you can view in landscape as well as portrait just by rotating the device.  Good job Sony Ericsson.
  • Video: Straight away you have five options here. YouTube, BBC iPlayer, videos, camera videos and podcasts. The YouTube client is quite a nice one. The only critism I have is that the videos were not the best quality. They were a bit grainy. The BBC iPlayer application was fantastic and the video quality was slightly better here. The videos, camera videos and podcasts are fairly straight forward and I will cover camera videos later on in the review.
  • Music: Here you again get different sub sections – artists, albums, tracks, playlists, audio books, podcasts and my recordings. Again all nice and easy to use. Music playback will also be covered later in the review.

So that’s the media section and I must say I am very impressed. Its one of the nicest media apps I have seen so far and Sony Ericsson and done themselves proud here!

 

The menu button which sits between the call send and end keys takes you to the main menu, funnily enough! This is where we start getting deeper into the phones features and settings.

 

Web browsing on the Satio was painless. The experience was much the same as on some recent Nokia S60 devices although on the Satio I did think the pages loaded rather quicker. The screen scrolling was nice and smooth and zooming is either done by double tapping the screen, or by using an on screen zoom bar. No multi touch here. Its not the nicest browser in the world but its most defiantly not the worst.

 

Messaging was as I expected from the Symbian software – just fine. There is a choice of keyboards and without doubt its easiest using the full QWERTY one in landscape mode.  Setting up email addresses was a piece of cake.

 

On to the camera which has to be the big selling point of the Satio. At 12 mega pixels its only one of two on the UK market at the moment, however being 12MP does not make it automatically fantastic. If the lens and the optics are no good, all it will be good for is producing very large rubbish pictures. Luckily for Sony Ericsson they are pretty good when it comes to camera phones so here is the verdict:

Firstly I wanted to say that I love the sliding lens cover on the Satio. Although the lens on the Samsung Pixon 12 looks bigger and more impressive it has no protection like the Satio. Also when the lens cover is opened on the Satio it automatically activates the camera which makes things slightly easier.

The camera interface is simple but has lots of features and settings.  If offers a selection of “scenes” such as portrait, landscape, twilight, sports, document and beach/snow. There are also a selection of shooting modes: panorama, best pic (which takes nine consecutive shots and picks the best one!), smile detection and touch capture (where you can tap a place on the screen as a point of focus).

The flash is pretty good although with all camera phones they are only good for a certain distance. Initially the LED flash lights up the subject and then when you take the shot the Xenon flash does its business. Nice. Like most decent cameras on phones you have the option to change the size of the picture you are taking. As I said in the Pixon12 review doing this increases the amount of storage required on the device and also uses less data if you are uploading photos to the internet.

There are options to change the focus mode to macro and face detection although in most cases the auto mode will work just fine.

Effects are another nice feature. On the Sony Ericsson Satio you have the option of using negative, solarise, sepia and black and white. These effects can also be used when video recording which is great. The video quality was not as good as the camera but it was reasonable.

12102009005 14102009010

Photos taken with the Sony Ericsson Satio in auto mode. Flash used on the right.

Overall I was more than happy with the quality of the Satio camera and it was a pleasure to use. Nice and straight forward.

 

The Sony Ericsson Satio comes built in with the Walkman feature for listening to music. I was looking forward to this as recently I reviewed a low end SE Walkman phone and the music quality was below average. I am pleased to say its much, much better on the Satio. I gave it the Guns & Roses test and me and the Satio had a rocking time. The external speaker was not much good but once the earphones were plugged in things were much better. It was loud, crisp and most importantly for me the bass sounded good and bass-like! The only downside is that Sony Ericsson have not included a 3.5mm headset jack on the Satio – Fail! They have included an adaptor so you can use your own headphones if you want but this is never an ideal solution. The Sony Ericsson USB connection is huge and really bulks out the device when the headphones are connected. Shame.

 

On to the Organiser features: Like on other Symbian devices the Satio comes with Quick Office which allows you to use Word/Excel etc. Oh no it doesn’t, because you have to buy a licence for a Symbian phone. Not good! Well at least it has Adobe reader. Well it has it for 15 days and then you have to pay for that as well!

 

The last feature I am going to comment on is GPS. The Sony Ericsson Satio comes with A-GPS which is always good for a quick fix of where you are. I firstly tested googlemaps and it worked a treat. Also built in is WisePilot, a GPS navigation program. The good news is I tried it and it seemed to work perfectly. The bad news is the maps are not stored on the handset but downloaded over the air as required, so if you are going to use it a lot then please make sure you have a decent data plan to prevent extra costs from your network provider. I liked WisePilot but I certainly wouldn’t give up using TomTom or CoPilot for it. Nice to have for emergencies though.

 

Conclusion:

So how does it compare to the Samsung Pixon12? Well that all comes down to personal preference. I thought the camera was nicer to use than on the Pixon and it felt more like a camera, where as the Samsung felt more like a phone. If I had to choose I would go for the Sony Ericsson Satio. Although I don’t like the Symbian OS, a lot of the time I didn’t even know I was using it as improvements have been made.

Overall the Satio is a really nice phone with a decent camera as a bonus. Good job Sony Ericsson!

 

Posted by: James

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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