Mobile Phones Guide

Sony Xperia Sola review

Sony Xperia Sola - Magical Touch

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Launch SRP S$588

Overall rating 7.5/10
Design:
7.5
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8.5
Performance:
7.5
Value:
7.5
THE GOOD
Solid build quality
Good handling
Unique Floating Touch technology
THE BAD
Poor battery life
Stiff camera shutter button
Runs on Android 2.3


Performance and Conclusion

Performance 

The Sony Xperia Sola is powered by ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500 dual-core 1GHz processor and 512MB RAM, which seems modest in the Android realm where the rave is all about the quad-core HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III

Due to its position as a mid-tier smartphone, we will be comparing the Xperia Sola against the dual-core competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC Sensation XE and the LG Optimus 2X in the Quadrant benchmark. 

How the Phones Stack Up
Device Sony Xperia Sola Samsung Galaxy Nexus  HTC Sensation XE LG Optimus 2X
CPU ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500 dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP 4460 dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8260 dual-core 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz 
GPU Mali 400 GPU PowerVR SGX540 Adreno 220 ULP GeForce
RAM 512MB 1GB 768MB 512MB
OS Google Android 2.3 Google Android 4.0 Google Android 2.3 Google Android 2.2

 

The score of 2254 placed the Xperia Sola somewhere in the middle of the competition. While it managed to topple the Android 4.0-touting Galaxy Nexus, it failed to match up to the Tegra 2-powered LG Optimus 2X and Qualcomm Snapdragon-equipped HTC Sensation XE.

As mentioned in our review of the Sony Xperia P, the higher clock speed and the possibility of better optimization on the Qualcomm chipset contributed to the HTC device gaining the upper hand. However, numbers aren't everything. Daily usage-wise, its performance was snappy and responsive, with apps opening fairly fast and multitasking was a breeze. So in actual usage, all phones actually delivered similarly good usability.

 

Imaging Performance

The Sony Xperia Sola is equipped with a 5-megapixel rear autofocus camera, a single LED flash and handles HD video recording up to 720p resolutions. However, it lacks a front facing camera for video calls. As usual, we will subject the Xperia Sola to our imaging test to see how well can it handle photo taking tasks: - 

     

Although we had hardly any issues with the imaging performance of the Xperia Sola, we did not like the feel and operation of the physical camera shutter button located on the bottom right side of the phone. It is simply too stiff for our liking, and with such a characteristic, pressing the shutter button all the way runs the risk of the user accidentally shaking the camera when taking photos. 

On a positive note, we quite liked the Fast Capture feature on the Xperia Sola. You can activate the camera and take the shot straight from the lock screen of the Xperia Sola by simply pressing the shutter button for a few seconds. According to Sony, the process takes just over a second.

We tested the Fast Capture feature on several occasions and found it to be a tad more useful than the camera shortcut found on the lock screens of other phones. Fast Capture can also be found in other recent Sony phones such as the Xperia S, P and U. 

 

Battery Mileage 

Our testing methodology involves looping a video with a 480 x 800 pixels resolution under the following conditions:

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

Sony Xperia Sola Compared to Other Phones
Specifications/Device Sony Xperia Sola  Samsung Galaxy Nexus HTC Sensation XE LG Optimus 2X
Processor
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 3.7-inch
  • 4.65-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.0-inch
Display Type
  • TFT
  • HD Super AMOLED
  • S-LCD
  • TFT-LCD
Display Resolution
  • 854 x 480 pixels
  • 1280 x 720 pixels
  • 960 x 540 pixels
  • 800 x 480 pixels
Dimensions
  • 116 x 59 x 9.9mm
  • 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9mm
  • 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3mm
  • 123.9 x 63.2 x 10.9mm
Weight
  • 107g
  • 135g
  • 151g
  • 139g
Battery
  • 1320mAh
  • 1750mAh
  • 1730mAh
  • 1500mAh 

Low battery mileage continues to plague the Xperia line of smartphones as the Xperia Sola came in last with a timing of slightly less than four hours of battery uptime in intensive usage. Some may argue that the Xperia Sola comes with a smaller battery capacity of 1320mAh but one cannot ignore the fact that its competitors come with bigger screens and processors with higher clock speeds. Fortunately, while using the phone during normal day-to-day operations, the device could last close to one day. So its probably not too bad, but it certainly could have done much better in our streneous testing to better reflect intensive usage.

 

Conclusion

Based on the recent portfolio of Sony Xperia phones introduced, it is apparent that the company isn't looking at competing directly with the heavyweights (Apple, HTC and Samsung) head-to-head. Instead, Sony is differentiating its products with unique features such as Fast Capture, Floating Touch technology and design appeal in the case of the Xperia Sola.

As interesting as its Floating Touch technology could be, it is not the killer feature that will give the Xperia Sola in any strategic edge over the competition. After all, the Apple iPhones are still the hot favorites among consumers today despite having a smaller 3.5-inch screen. For the Android camp, bigger screen phones are increasingly popular with users judging from the roaring sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note. That's not to say that the Sola is in any disadvantage with its screen size, but rather, its lacking the X-factor or a killer function to entice would-be buyers. Currently, the Xperia series is banking heavily on its design and the complete Sony ecosystem for best usability.

At S$588, the Sony Xperia Sola is a decent mid-range smartphone that has a solid build quality and good handling. Performance-wise, it's tough recommending the Xperia Sola over the other phones such as the LG Optimus 2X which offer a better battery life, a bigger display, 1080p video recording and an 8-megapixel rear camera. As it is more than a year old, you are able to get the LG phone at a lower street price. If you are looking for an ICS-powered smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus could be a better choice with a larger screen, but it's priced much higher as well.

That leaves the Xperia Sola an ideal upgrade for existing Sony/Sony Ericsson users who prefer to have a similar design and character on a phone that has a very handy size. The bottom line is that there's nothing wrong about it, but neither is there a very strong plus point going for it.