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Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro review

Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro - Write Like a Pro

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Overall rating 8/10
Design:
8
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
8
Value:
8
THE GOOD
Above average battery life
Decent imaging quality from Exmor sensor
Ease of use with 3.7-inch display
THE BAD
Stiff and flushed physical keys
Odd placement of power and camera buttons


Performance & Conclusion

Performance

With a single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 1GHz processor powering the Xperia Pro, some might wonder if it performs as admirably as its competitors with a dual-core processor. To answer that, we took the Xperia Pro out for a spin, mostly concentrating on its apps loading, switching and handling speeds. In particular, we tested graphics intensive games such as Shadowgun to stress test its Adreno 205 GPU alongside the single-core processor, and the results weren’t too disappointing. Scrolling through the user interface was relatively smooth, while videos running on its native display resolution of 480 x 854 pixels had no foreseeable frames skipping or lagging.

To give you a more tangible gauge at its performance, we subjected the Xperia Pro to an Android-specific benchmark, Quadrant. This particular app tests the CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performance of a mobile device, giving you a general idea of how the device performs.

These benchmarks are not definitive, but it will give you a rough estimate on how the Xperia Pro stands against similar smartphones. For the purpose of comparison, we pitted the Sony Ericsson device against a very similar single-core smartphone, the Motorola Milestone 2. The HTC Sensation XL with its higher clock speed on a single-core processor and the leading dual-core smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S II, are tossed in to highlight the potential differences.

Looking at the scores from the Quadrant benchmark, it’s safe to say that the single-core Xperia Pro fails to match the raw processing power of its dual-core competitor. The bumped up 1.5GHz clock speed on the Sensation XL proved advantageous, given that it scored higher than the Xperia Pro by a few hundred points.

Similar to its recent Xperia cousins, the Xperia Pro comes with the Mobile Bravia Display enhancement. To be honest, we don’t see much of a difference with and without Mobile Bravia Display activated. For a 3.7-inch display and a screen resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, the high pixels-per-inch density should give you a sharper image on the display. As explained earlier on, we had no issues with the video playback on the Xperia Pro. Its audio performance didn’t fail to disappoint. However, like most mobile devices, you won’t be relying on its speakers for the best audio quality.

On paper, the Xperia Pro has some amazing specifications for its camera. An 8-megapixel imaging resolution is nothing to shout about, but Sony Ericsson’s liberal use of its Exmor sensor for its recent Xperia range has given us something to look forward to. Taking all that into consideration, we conducted our usual tests to check on its overall imaging performance.

The results were expectedly pleasant for us, with minimal noise seen across the images. Color reproduction was nicely done, and we liked how the white balance kept the image neither too warm nor cool. While the details weren’t as sharp in the finer areas, we were quite impressed with how the overall imaging quality was a notch above the rest.

Lastly, we examine the Xperia Pro’s stamina, using the same devices as a point of comparison. Besides having its processor as a factor to consider, we are also looking at how the different screen sizes and battery capacity will affect each of their battery performance. Our testing methodology involves testing a video with a 480 x 800 pixels resolution looping under the following conditions:

  • Screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections active
     
  • Constant data stream via email and Twitter

The battery life is also tied closely to the portability index of the device, which is calculated as such:

Portability Index = Ratio of Battery Life to (Weight x Volume)

In this equation, a higher portability index is preferred, given that it is a reflection of a device that lasts longer, minus the bulk and weight of a huge battery housed in a large form factor.

Specifications/Device Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro Motorola Milestone 2 Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Samsung Galaxy S II
Processor
  • Single-core 1GHz
  • Single-core 1GHz
  • Single-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
Display Size
  • 3.7-inch
  • 3.7-inch
  • 4.7-inch
  • 4.27-inch
Display Type
  • TFT LCD
  • TFT LCD
  • S-LCD
  • Super AMOLED Plus
Display Resolution
  • 480 x 854 pixels
  • 480 x 854 pixels
  • 480 x 800 pixels
  • 480 x 800 pixels
Dimensions
  • 120 x 57 x 13.5mm
  • 60.5 x 116.3 x 13.7mm
  • 132.5 x 70.7 x 9.9mm
  • 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49mm
Weight
  • 140g
  • 169g
  • 162.5g
  • 116g
Battery
  • 1500mAh
  • 1400mAh
  • 1600mAh
  • 1650mAh

From the charts, it’s clear that the Xperia Pro fared quite well with its 351 minutes timing. Attributing it to a less power hungry single-core processor is only one part of the equation. The Sensation XL’s huge 4.7-inch display, plus its higher 1.5GHz processor clock speed, showcased two of the most power draining aspects of a smartphone. The Motorola Milestone 2, with similar specifications (and design), was shy of the Xperia Pro’s numbers by 30 minutes.

While the single-core processor on the Xperia Pro sustained itself quite well, its dual-core competitors gave a similar performance. The Samsung Galaxy S II managed to steal the thunder in this comparison. Even with its larger display size of 4.26-inches, we have to give due credit to its Super AMOLED Plus display for its above average battery life. From the portability aspect, the Xperia Pro’s bulk and weight against the Samsung Galaxy S II won’t put it at the top of the list, but that’s the price you’ll have to pay for the QWERTY keyboard.

Do note that the test conducted is meant to stress the battery to the limit. At the end of the day, the mileage you get out of the Xperia Pro depends on your usage pattern. Like most smartphones, the Xperia Pro definitely lasts for at least a full working day, with emails and Twitter feeds pushed constantly to it. The occasional music and video playback and a decent amount of talktime of no more than 30 minutes in total were included in the mileage.

 

Conclusion

The thing about Android, is how manufacturers like Sony Ericsson can go full steam ahead with customizations. And that holds true for the Xperia Pro. Besides the usual Sony Ericsson user interface customization, the most identifiable being the Timescape widget, we also saw the use of a split-pane design for its email app. Though it isn’t the first to implement a folder-for-apps concept, it’s good to see that the option exists to house more app shortcuts on the home page.

Admittedly, the Xperia Pro is no head-turner with its thick profile. Its QWERTY keyboard did not do any favors for us with its less than optimal typing experience. The irregular placement of its power and camera buttons, coupled with how flushed the said buttons are to the body, are the most likely deal breakers. But if you are able to live with the awkward camera button, you’ll find its 8-megapixel camera returning decent images thanks to its Exmor sensor. Its 3.7-inch display is a good fit for swiping, and when it comes to watching videos on the unit, it doesn’t fare too badly either, with or without its Mobile Bravia Display activated. Battery stamina isn’t a huge concern, given that our battery tests gave a score of 351 minutes of continuous video playback and the usual one-day running time for usual smartphone activities.

Priced at S$638, we won’t say the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro is a must-have item for QWERTY keyboard users. Other QWERTY smartphones such as the BlackBerry Bold 9900 will fare better in the typing department. But if you’re looking for something more, such as a sufficiently strong app ecosystem to go along with the smartphone, you might want to consider this Sony Ericsson device or the Motorola Milestone 2.