Sony Ericsson Satio review: Shooter by vocation

GSMArena team, 27 October 2009.
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Unboxing meets expectations

The Sony Ericsson Satio comes in a pretty compact box, which made us worried that there wouldn't be enough stuff inside to justify the price tag.

As it turned out, our worries were unfounded. The box has all the things the vast majority of users will ever need. Along with the handset itself, you get a wall charger, user guide and a USB cable for connecting your Satio to a computer. There's also a stylus in there but since we aren't great fans dongle-style ones we hardly ever took it out of the box.

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Exploring the Satio retail package

Unfortunately, the headphones are a rather basic set. We got a one-piece handsfree, which is a major letdown, given the absence of a 3.5mm audio jack on the Satio. We have reason to believe though the box contents are market dependent and luckier users may be treated to a two-piece headset with a 3.5 mm adapter on the remote, or even a TV-out cable.

We certainly cheered the 8GB microSD card we found inside the box. The Satio's syncing software comes preinstalled on the card, so all you need to do is plug the USB cable in the handset and install it right form there.

Finally, there are some quick-start guides in the box too, if you need tips about handling the phone.

Sony Ericsson Satio 360-degree spin

At 112 x 55 x 13 mm the Sony Ericsson Satio can be slipped into most pockets without causing too much of a bulge. It's not what you'd call a compact set but the 3.5" touchscreen is a pretty good excuse. The extra girth around the lens is about what you would expect in a device boasting a 12 megapixel camera.

We are pleased however with the solid feel that the 126 grams give the handset. More importantly though, handling the phone is quite comfortable - most of the features are within thumb's reach and the active lens cover and handy camera controls are very user-friendly.

Design and construction

The Sony Ericsson Satio comes in a choice of three different colors - black, silver and bordeaux. Having had the black version for a preview we have to admit the bordeaux paintjob is hardly as inspiring. We suspect it has something to do with the shiny red plastic being a bit too feminine for us.

The body of the Satio is almost entirely made of plastic, which looks pretty nice but we still prefer some metal on our mobiles. We are willing to accept this (admittedly high quality) material for the sake of keeping the handset weight down.

Most of the Satio's front is taken up by the 3.5" touchscreen with a resolution of 640 x 360 pixels. The resistive unit supports up to 16M colors and is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the device. It has remarkable picture quality with incredible brightness and excellent contrast for a TFT unit. Images look impressively vibrant on it.

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The huge touchscreen excels in terms of image quality

Resistive displays generally need more pressure to get a click registered. As we found out, the Satio's screen response is just fine - you don't need to push like your life depends on it. It is by no means as sensitive as capacitive displays but then again, you can use the Satio with a stylus or with your gloves on.

The sunlight legibility of the display is decent, but not as good as the Nokia N97, let alone the Apple iPhone. Still you will be able find a proper angle for working with the phone even in the brightest sunlight if you try hard enough so that shouldn't be a deal-breaker. Sony Ericsson still aren't up with the best in this department but they aren't too far behind either.

There are three hardware controls underneath the display, while the video-call camera, ambient light sensor and the earpiece are on top. There is also a proximity sensor up there to take care of switching the display off when you hold it against your ear in a call. The hardware keys are a bit too thin but still usable. They have decent press and blend well with the overall design.

The Satio's main controls are a Call and an End key on each side of a menu button. Pressing and holding the menu key launches the task manager - in the long-standing Symbian tradition.

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The three hardware keys at the bottom are nice to use * video-call camera, earpiece and sensors at the top

The left side of the Sony Ericsson Satio features the screen lock slider, the proprietary universal connectivity port and the microSD card slot. The absence of a 3.5mm standard jack and microUSB for data and charging are certainly among the small details that compromise Satio's user-friendliness.

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No 3.5mm jack and standard USB port can be held against the Satio

At least the memory card slot is covered by a plastic lid so it won't fill up with dust. Plus, the Satio is yet another recent Sony Ericsson handset to move away from the Memory Stick storage. The Satio can easily handle 16GB microSD cards, so the transition is pretty seamless.

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