Sony Ericsson Xperia pro review: Social Inc.
Unboxing the Xperia pro
The Sony Ericsson Xperia pro's retail box brings no surprises - a USB charger, a microUSB-to-USB cable (used for charging and computer connections) and an in-ear headset.
Finally, there are a couple of user guides and an 8GB microSD card in the box. The only thing missing is an HDMI cable.
Sony Ericsson Xperia pro 360-degree spin
The all-plastic Sony Ericsson Xperia pro weighs in at 142 grams and stretches to 120 x 57 x 13.5 mm. That's nearly the same size as the Xperia neo, which is quite an achievement, considering they squeezed in a QWERTY keyboard without increasing the thickness. It's a reasonably compact messenger with good handling, and it looks even slimmer because of the inward rear curve.
Design and build quality
The design of Sony Ericsson Xperia pro mixes Xperia neo and Xperia arc. Looked from the front, the Neo and the Pro are almost impossible to tell apart. The back has a similar inward curve as the two Xperia Arcs, slightly less prominent perhaps as the Pro is obviously not as tall.
So, it's a familiar look and the styling lacks any kind of ornaments. We like the strip of silver that frames the phone's body asymmetrically - thin on the sides, wider at the top and bottom. Our review unit is the red flavor. It wouldn't have been our first choice but it has a serious advantage over the black unit.
The Xperia pro finish is heavy on gloss and gets covered in grease in no time. The smudges are quite hard to clean too but, luckily, not as visible on the red and probably silver version. For the black one though there is no hope.
Most of the phone’s front is taken by the 3.7" 16M-color LCD screen with a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels. The Xperia pro uses the same Reality display as the Xperia arc, neo, ray and arc S, enhanced with the Sony Bravia Mobile Engine. The high-quality LED-backlit LCD has pleasing colors and commendable sunlight legibility. The questionable feature is viewing angles: whn you look at the display at an angle, contrast is quickly lost and the colors get washed out.
Although the Reality display is no match for the Samsung’s SuperAMOLED, it’s on the better side of LCDs and we've repeatedly praised the recent Sony Ericsson smartphones for the notably improved image quality and outdoor performance.
Here's our proprietary display test. On the Xperia pro, we were only able to do our display test with the screen brightness set to the maximum, as once you select anything other the maximum setting the light sensor kicks in and starts automatically controlling the screen brightness. And since we conduct our test in a completely dark room that would lead to inaccurate results.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|Sony Ericsson Xperia pro||-||-||-||0.6||557||928|
|LG Optimus 2X||0.23||228||982||0.35||347||1001|
|Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc||-||-||-||0.33||394||1207|
|Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II||0.00||231||∞||0.00||362||∞|
|Apple iPhone 4S||0.14||205||1463||0.52||654||1261|
Below the screen we find the usual set of controls. The hardware Back, Home and Menu buttons do look a bit crammed up together but actually more comfortable and solid to press compared to the Xperia Arc.
It’s pretty crowded above the display: there’s the earpiece, an ambient light sensor, the secondary VGA camera and a proximity sensor.
The left hand side of the Xperia pro has the 3.5mm audio jack and the tiny Lock/Power key. It seems to be comfortably placed to reach with a forefinger if you wrap your right hand around the device. It's so small though that it's almost impossible to press this way. We found we had to press it with a fingernail to be sure it will do the job.
In the top right, there is the thin volume rocker and a microHDMI port under a small plastic lid. There’s a tiny status LED next to the HDMI port. On the other end is the two-step shutter key. It's stiff and small - just like on the two Arcs. What makes it worse here is the form factor. Every time we tried to push the shutter key all the way down, the slider gave in and moved up.
On top we find the centrally placed microUSB port. The lanyard eyelet is the only thing at the bottom.
Sliding the Xperia pro open reveals its key feature: the four-row QWERTY keyboard. There's a setting allowing you to enable Smart Keyboard, which Sony Ericsson claim will give you instant access to relevant functions but it just didn't work on our unit. The slider motion unlocks the screen and that's that. We should warn against a minor wobble to the slider, which may or may not deteriorate with time.
As to the keyboard itself, it uses the exact same layout as the Mini pro but the well-spaced keys enjoy more room and that's all to the user's benefit. The keys are prominent enough with nice matte finish, the press feedback is good. This is one of the most beautifully lit keyboards we've seen too. Each key is outlined by a thin thread of light and the symbols are nicely illuminated.
The back of the Sony Ericsson Xperia pro has the 8MP lens and a single LED flash. The lens is recessed to ensure protection against scratches and smudges. The secondary microphone for active noise cancellation is also nearby.
The loudspeaker is all the way at the bottom.
The microSD card slot is under the battery cover, at the very end of the battery compartment, which rules out hot-swap. By the way, we had a lot of trouble opening the battery cover. There's no designated place to put a finger and pull up. We ended up scratching the surface to find the slightest opening. The Xperia pro supports cards of up to 32GB and comes with a complimentary 8GB card.
The SIM card compartment is next to the microSD slot too. The Xperia pro is powered by a 1500mAh battery, which should be enough to last three days of normal usage.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro got a battery rating of 37h in our recently introduced standardized battery test. You can expect 37 hours between charges with an hour of 3G calls, and hour of video playback and an hour of web browsing each day. That’s better than what we are used to seeing from modern-day smartphones.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia pro is reasonably sized and comfortable to use and carry around. It's nearly the size of an Xperia Neo and they did a good job of fitting a QWERTY keyboard there. It's quite an efficient keyboard too, and beautifully backlit. A great physical keyboard and the 3.7” display, this is a full-size messenger many will be willing to consider over the compact mini pro.
The phone is well built, though we have our gripes. They're not going to ruin the experience, just something to look out for when trying the phone. There is a wobble in the slider - the bottom of the phone is looser than the top. It's not too worrisome but it's there. The back cover is a hassle to open but let's say you won't need to do that too often. The Power button and the shutter key could've been better. We don't mind the plastic build and the sober styling. The phone looks good and handles well without being a design wonder. Because of the fingerprint issues we wouldn't recommend the black version.