Sony Xperia E dual review: Something extra
The visually customized phonebook of the Xperia E dual is virtually the same as on vanilla Android and can store extensive contact information. A tabbed interface allows you to access your contact list, recent calls, and info from social networking services.
The contact list can be sorted by either first or last name. There are two contact search options - a dedicated search field on top of the contact list, and an alphabet scroll to jump to names starting with a specific letter.
Quick contacts are enabled - a tap on the contact's photo brings up shortcuts for calling, texting or emailing the contact.
You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from certain accounts and SIM cards(you can fine-sift specific groups from an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers or only contacts that are online.
If a contact has accounts in multiple services, you can "link" their details to keep everything in one place. Their Facebook photos and interests (part of the Facebook integration) will show as extra tabs.
Each contact can have a variety of fields (and repeat fields of the same type), there's an Add field button and the X button lets you remove fields as needed. The fields cover anything from names (including a field to write the name down phonetically) to addresses, nicknames and notes.
There is an option to redirect calls directly to voicemail, and custom ringtones are enabled too.
The Xperia E dual supports dual standby, meaning that both of its SIM cards can accept calls at any time (just not simultaneously). In addition both SIMs can connect to a 3G networks.
There is one thing you should know though - while you are in a call with one of the SIMs, the other card will be inaccessible. By default the phone automatically forwards your calls to the other SIM card and if it supports call waiting, you should be able to get the call or put it on hold (additional charges might apply if you take the call).
However, you can use only one of your cards for network data transfers and you'll have to set that from the dedicated Dual SIM settings menu. From there you can also set names for the SIM cards, choose the default one for calls and messages, turn on/off SIMs, and turn on/off the auto-switch options.
You can quickly switch the default SIM card for messaging and calls via the dedicated widgets or the SIM toggle in the notification area, though - you don't need to go to the settings menu every time.
The signal strength is relatively strong and we had no issues with in-call quality.
The phone app features smart dialing which searches for matches in both the contacts' phones and names. The call log is integrated in the dialer - it shows a list of recently dialed, received and missed calls in the top half of the screen and the keypad on the bottom half. Once you start typing, the call log is replaced by the smart dial list. You can hide the keypad the make more room for the call log.
Thanks to the proximity sensor, the Sony Xperia E dual automatically disables the touchscreen when you place it next to your face during a call.
We ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Sony Xperia E dual, and it scored an Average mark. It's just 1db below our Good result though and missed calls and notification are highly unlikely. The test was made using the xLOUD option, which is active by default. You'd do well to stick with that as otherwise the speaker was too quiet.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overal score|
|Sony Xperia sola||60.9||59.0||61.7||Below Average|
|Sony Xperia tipo||65.7||61.7||71.8||Below Average|
|Apple iPhone 4S||65.8||64.5||74.6|
|HTC Desire C||64.6||64.7||75.7|
|Sony Xperia E dual (xLOUD)||66.8||64.6||75.7|
|Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S6500||69.7||66.6||71.5|
|Sony Xperia miro (xLOUD)||69.7||64.6||75.9|
|Sony Xperia Go||68.7||65.8||76.2|
|Sony Xperia neo L||65.8||65.4||76.9|
|Motorola RAZR XT910||74.7||66.6||82.1||Very Good|
Text messages and MMS use a standard threaded layout. Each thread is displayed as an IM chat session, with the most recent message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them against deletion.
Search is enabled to locate a specific message in all conversations and you can also activate delivery reports.
Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message to an MMS.
Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there's no unified inbox for other email services.
However, the generic email app can do that as well. It can handle multiple POP or IMAP accounts and you have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online.
Google Talk handles Instant Messaging. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.
As for text input, the Xperia E dual offers a customized on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. Typing on the portrait keyboard is not as convenient as on some of the larger screens seen in the Xperia line, but is still fairly comfortable.
Flipping the phone to landscape gives you even bigger, easier to press buttons.
You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn't give you the desired typing speed. It works the same as Swype, and even if you've never used Swype input before, you'll quickly get used to it.