Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo preview: First look

GSMArena team, 09 March 2011.
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Sony Ericsson XPERIA Neo 360-degree spin

The all-plastic Sony Ericsson XPERIA Neo stands at 116 x 57 x 13 mm and weighs 126 grams. It looks slimmer than the numbers will tell you, because of its all-gloss body with blue-black hues. The back has the trademark human curvature shape that we’ve seen from most other recent Sony Ericsson phones.

Design and construction

The Sony Ericsson Neo shares a lot of DNA with the Vivaz – sloping top and bottom and human curvature shape at the back. This is by no means an accident – the Neo is a true successor of the popular HD-video capable cameraphone. It was even previously rumored as Vivaz 2.

The Neo will be available in thee color versions: Silver, Blue Gradient and Red. We have the pleasure of the Blue Gradient variety. It’s still a pre-production test unit, so some things will probably be improved along the way to the stores too.

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The XPERIA Neo next to XPERIA Pro

Quite as expected, the body of the Neo is entirely made of plastic. But just like the Vivaz, the Neo doesn’t seem to need metal on the body – the shape, weight and finish completely make up for that. Of course the glossy plastic rather easily gets covered with smudges that are hard to clean up.

Most of the phone’s front is taken by the 3.7" 16M-color LCD screen with resolution of 854 x 480 pixels. The Neo uses the same kind of screen as the XPERIA Arc – a Reality display using the Sony Bravia Mobile Engine. The high-quality LED-backlit LCD has good enough viewing angles and pleasing colors. Contrast and sunlight legibility are decent too. The on-screen contents remain quite visible even when viewing at an angle but the contrast quickly degrades and the colors get washed out.

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The Reality display has its ups and downs

Although the Reality display is no match for the Samsung’s SuperAMOLED, it’s on the better side of LCDs and the latest Sony Ericsson smartphones (Neo, Arc and Pro) will benefit from using it.

Below the screen we find the same three keys as on the Arc: a Back button, Home key that brings up recently used apps tab upon long press and a Menu key. The controls are rather thin but are quite solid to press and since they are seated on a subtle chin, they are a pleasure to use.

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The typical controls below the display • the video-call camera and its companions above the display

It gets pretty crowded above the display: you’ll find a proximity sensor, the earpiece, a tiny LED (could be a camera tally light) and the VGA video-call camera.

The left side of the XPERIA Neo is completely bare, while the right one features the volume controls and two small knobs: power/lock button and shutter key. A small status LED right next to the power/lock key indicates charging.

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The left side is bare • the camera key, the volume rocker and the lock/power combo on the right

It’s busy at the top too – there we find the microUSB and microHDMI ports on each side of a 3.5mm audio jack. Both the USB and HDMI ports are sealed with small plastic lids.

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The Neo’s top side is busy with connectivity ports • the bottom side

The back of the Sony Ericsson Neo reveals its key feature – the camera. Just like it was on the Vivaz, the 8MP lens is unusually placed almost in the middle. The lens is recessed to ensure protection against scratches and smudges. Next to it, there is a LED flash, which is mostly useful as a video light.

The loudspeaker is also here at the back.

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The camera lens, LED flash and loudspeaker grill at the beautiful back

The microSD card slot is under the battery cover, though not beneath the battery itself and is therefore hot-swappable. The Neo supports 32GB cards and will come with an 8GB microSD card in the box.

The SIM card compartment is under the impressive 1500mAh battery.

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The microSD card slot and the SIM bed

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA Neo is quite reasonably sized and well within limits of pocketability despite its 3.7” display. It’s well built and there is nothing to complain about other than the fingerprint issues. The XPERIA Neo has a solid feel and doesn’t look cheap although it uses a similar color scheme as the XPERIA X8. The phone looks a bit like the Vivaz but it’s obvious Sony Ericsson were after a consistent styling for the latest generation of their XPERIA smartphones.

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Sony Ericsson XPERIA Neo held in hand

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