One of the newer devices that recently rolled out of the Sony Ericsson shed is the Xperia Neo V. Designed to offer high-end like features at a reasonable price, the Neo V could mean serious competition for the likes of Motorola, Spice, among others. Here’s a closer look at the latest handset in the Xperia Smartphone series.
The Neo V is the Xperia Pro sans slide out QWERTY keypad The rounded ends gives it a neat “oval” shape, but what didn’t work for us was the rather bulk design and 126g of weight it carries. The Neo V just looks a little odd in the ranks of today’s slim handset configurations. A Mini HDMI and micro USB are located at the top of the device on either side of the 3.5mm handsfree socket. The screen lock/power button and camera activation/shutter release keys are on the left hand side of the handset with the volume rocker in between. Sony Ericsson has removed the ‘Search’ button and stuck to just three physical keys under the 3.7-inch LED Backlit display (480 x 854 pixel resolution). A VGA front facing camera is also present just above the display to the right of the earpiece.
A tag of the plump side
Thankfully, the Neo V features a hot swap memory card slot (up to 32GB cards) under the rear panel. The panel itself, though can be a little tricky to open, so you might want to avoid that task too often. Sony’s Human Curvature design does make the handset slightly easier to grip, though.
Features and Performance
With a 1GHz Scorpion processor powering Android’s Gingerbread OS (2.3.4), the Xperia Neo V functions quite well… most of the time. One rather odd circumstance did seem to plague the device though - constant reboots, while using Wi-Fi and then switching the handset to standby. This happened for quite sometime during our testing, but ceased after a while. It seems this particular issue is due to some bug in this particular device, as we weren’t the only ones who came face to face with the Neo V’s Reboot Fairy.
From the Mobile Bravia Engine to Gingerbread, it's all there
Other than that, handling was super smooth and even a few slightly heavy games worked without a hitch. On the whole the handset performed quite well with scores not unlike the Xperia Pro. A Linpak Single Thread run gave us a score of 33.97 MFLOPS and ____ in Multi-Thread. The custom UI could use a little tweaking and so can Sony Ericsson’s TimeScape interface, which is definitely due for an overhaul as well.
The native music player that Sony Ericsson has customized for the Android UI is quite well balanced for overall audio performance. We were not too thrilled with the bundled handsfree, but with our own set of test earphones we did find a considerable boost in audio quality. EQ presets are provided to help enhance the quality as well, but the difference they make to tone quality is not by large margin. Nevertheless, the fact that they’ve been included is a feather in the Neo’s cap. The Infinity button gives you access to all kinds of information about the track you’re listening to from lyrics to YouTube videos, etc. Sony has also thrown in TrackID for music recognition via the built in FM radio (which might not have had the best interface, but worked like a charm reception-wise) or from external sources.
The Music player has plenty of features, the radio's UI could have been better designed
Video codec support is seriously lacking in the Sony Ericsson family, not that the Android Market doesn’t come to its rescue with the likes of MoboPlayer or RockPlayer, but we do believe it’s about time aspect was refreshed to include more format support. The stock player reads MP4, 3GP and WMV video files up to an 800 x 480 resolution.
The Neo V is a 3G-enabled handset that works well enough on standard EDGE/GPRS connections as well. It’s also Wi-Fi equipped and allows you to turn your handset into a Hot Spot for your wireless connection. DLNA support is also present and with the aid of the Connected Devices app you can share media from your handset with your PS3, for example, through your Wi-Fi connection at home or at work. Aside from the Android Marketplace, SE has also provisioned the Xperia Neo V with a Get Apps section that has a long list of handy apps pre-selected, which the company feels would go well and enhance your Neo V experience. Subsequently there’s also a Get Games section with a few choices offered here as well.
Well connected for Facebook
E-mail connectivity is, of course provided with the stock Gmail app on board as well as the E-mail application that allows you to connect to your Outlook account and Sync with Microsoft Exchange servers. Gtalk, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Navigation, Places and Latitude are also included and Sony Ericsson has also thrown in WisePilot for your GPS needs with A-GPS support. Sony’s PlayNow store is also bundled along with an App for a UEFA Championship League app. A couple of Facebook-based apps like Music & Videos and Games & Apps come pre-loaded, but didn’t seem to get any data off our online accounts.
A few extras like NeoReader for scanning bar codes and alike comes pre-loaded with the device, along with Sony HotShots for avid tennis fans. All the mobile centric basics like a calendar to sync with your Facebook, Gmail and Outlook appointment books are onboard and so is a calculator, alarm clock, a Download and Data Monitor and OfficeSuite.
Quite a few extras thrown in
The Neo V comes equipped with a 5MP auto focus camera and an LED flash that can record video in 720p HD. Features are plenty, including Face and Smile detection, Geotagging and Sony’s Sweep 3D panorama feature that takes a bit of getting used to. Picture quality is not bad at all with just a little bit of ‘dull’ on the colour front, but focus and clarity is relatively stable and quite sharp. Indoor shots with the flash could have been a little better, though. All things said and done, the Neo V’s camera comes across as an asset.
3D Panorama Sweep can take some getting used to
Unfortunately the Xperia Neo V’s 1500mAh battery isn't its biggest asset. In our video drain test with no running apps or connections in the background, the handset clocked in 6 hours and 10 minutes, which is not too bad, but nothing to get too excited about, either. In our tech2 Loop test we played music, videos and streamed music audio online for 2 hours in each set with 1.5 hours of talktime thrown in for the first loop. That’s 7 hours and 30 minutes worth of non-stop usage. The handset was unable to even complete 20 minutes, when we started the second loop giving us a grand total of 7 hours and 50 minutes at a stretch with EDGE services switched on for mails.
Neat design but should have been a little slimmer
Real time usage worked out to just about a day with normal mail, messages, chatting and music usage. It should have been much more. Battery optimization seemed to be an issue, which we were not very happy with.
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs.18,500 (MOP) the Neo V, even with it’s few shortcomings is quite a value for money handset, especially since there aren’t too many in this price bracket that can compete. On the whole it functions well enough to be enjoyed and used thoroughly, if you’re carrying a portable charger with you at all times. We still recommend the handset for those with an under Rs.20,000 budget that are looking for a decent Android experience.
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