Sony Xperia go review: Get out, get wet

GSMArena team, 31 July 2012.
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5MP that will work under water too

The Xperia go boasts a 5 megapixel camera, complete with a single LED light. It's capable of producing images of 2592х1944 resolution. An added bonus is that you'll be able to capture stuff under water (no deeper than a meter, mind you), which is especially neat for video recording, we imagine.

The camera controls on the Xperia go are available on two taskbars on either side of the viewfinder. On the left you get four shortcuts to various settings, while the still camera/camcorder toggle, the virtual shutter key and a thumbnail of the last photo taken are on the right. There is no hardware shutter key like on some higher-end Sony droids.

The menu key brings up two pages of extra settings - scenes, resolution, smile detection, geotagging, image stabilization and focus mode among others. You can customize three of the shortcuts on the left (the shooting mode shortcut is fixed).

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Sony Xperia go Sony Xperia go
The Xperia go camera interface

There're five capture modes to choose from: Normal, Scene recognition, Sweep Panorama, Sweep Multi Angle and 3D Sweep Panorama. In Normal, you pick the Scene settings manually or you can enable Scene recognition and let the Xperia go take a guess (it's fairly good at it).

The 3D Sweep Panorama is business as usual - you press the virtual shutter key and pan the phone across the scene. The resulting panoramic photo can be viewed in both 2D and 3D (on a compatible TV).

The Sweep Multi Angle is much more impressive - you take a photo in the exact same way, but the result is very different. It produces something like a lenticular card.

Tilting the phone lets you look at the object from different sides. A shot of a moving object looks like an animated GIF or creates interesting distortions, which can be pretty funny too.

There are some distortions visible even in a static scene, but it's still one of the coolest camera features we've seen in a while. Photos taken in Sweep Multi Angle mode are handled by a separate app called 3D album, and not listed in the regular gallery. And just to be clear, the Xperia go doesn't have a 3D screen. It cleverly relies on its sensors to detect the handset movement and it changes the on-screen image accordingly.

The Sony Xperia go's forte isn't imaging but it still churns out impressive results. Images are very sharp and crisp for this price range. Detail is more than pleasing and the only place where the Xperia go could improve is color reproduction with the images being slightly dull.

Otherwise, the Xperia go offers a very good level of still capturing skills and would easily step in for an opportunist's digicam. Here go the results.

Sony Xperia go camera samples

Macro is another area where we got pleasing results with the Xperia go. It retained the good level of detail from very close and you don't need to switch to any particular scene mode like Close Up or Macro - the camera just focuses on the touch of a finger.

Sony Xperia go macro samples

We have to say we are a little surprised as we didn't expect such excellent results from a device meant to takle rough terrain.

Image quality comparison

The Xperia go joins the long list of tested devices in our photo comparison tool. We've pre-selected the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and HTC's One V for but feel free to select any of the other devices we've tested so far.

Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool
The Sony Xperia go vs the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and the HTC One V

Smooth video recording

The Sony Xperia go captures 720p video at 30 fps. It cannot do 1080p even though it offers a dual-core processor. The camcorder has similar settings to the still camera, including focus mode, metering, exposure value, image stabilization and so on. The layout of the shortcuts can be customized here too.

The Xperia go's camcorder features continuous autofocus. It may take a few seconds to refocus after you re-frame but that's better than repeating attempts to lock focus that may ruin a video. In fast-paced videos the continuous focusing could get a little hectic and focus every second or two, but you can turn the setting off.

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Switching to camcorder mode

The Xperia go produces good videos with a stellar bitrate of around 12000 kbps and a healthy 29 frames per second. The videos are smooth and focusing is pretty accurate and fast. The continuous autofocus isn't as hectic as on some of the competition (here's looking at you, LG). Detail is good throughout but could be better - it's not spectacular but it does the job.

Check out the video sample we captured with the Xperia go below.

If you want to look closer at the video quality, you can download this untouched sample 720p@30fps, taken straight off the device.

Video quality comparison

In our video comparison tool, the Xperia go measures up against the likes of the HTC One V and Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and does very well.

Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool
The Xperia go vs the Galaxy Ace 2 and the One V

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