Fresh off the launch of the Xperia T “Bond Phone”, Sony has just recently teamed up with Fido to release the Xperia Go, a mid-range Android smartphone that seems to have been designed for those who are on a budget, and maybe even a little bit clumsy. It doesn’t look like it, but this phone can take a beating.
Note: While the yellow version of the Xperia Go was used for this review, it’s not available at Future Shop. However, the black version is, as are soft shell cases in a few different colours.
Phones with waterproof bodies are still niche within a wider category of big screens, glitzy graphics and powerful components. That may change in 2013 if flagship devices become tougher (just my hunch) but for now, the Xperia Go is in a rugged field that doesn’t have too many others.
Looking at it, there really isn’t anything that will ‘wow’ you about the Xperia Go. It’s small and compact, has a 3.5-inch display (with a resolution of just 320x480) and a 5MP rear camera capable of capturing 720p video. There is no front-facing camera for video calls or Skype.
To be clear, the Xperia Go is not waterproof, but more water-resistant. Sony actually considers it the “most durable water-resistant smartphone”, and what that means in practice is that it can withstand being immersed in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of no more than one metre. This puts it in line with Samsung’s Galaxy Rugby LTE, which I also happened to review on the blog. The Galaxy Rugby LTE can stay up to a metre deep underwater for as long as 30 minutes. In either case, you can’t really use either phone underwater anyway because the capacitive screen recognizes too many touchpoints. Therefore, the major difference between the two is purely size and weight, but there are some features missing, too.
The Xperia Go is lightweight and easy to carry around, except it’s definitely not as durable as the Rugby. Dropping the Xperia Go on the ground will likely sustain more bumps and bruises than the Rugby would, simply because of the latter’s rugged and thick body. It also doesn’t have the screen resolution of the Rugby, nor LTE connectivity. Processing power is also stronger on the Rugby. But outside of that, the Xperia Go can hang with other rugged phones just fine. It runs on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (no word on upgrades to Jelly Bean), has a similar camera to the Rugby and the same amount of internal storage. The Go also has a microSD card slot in the back to expand that further. And if you plan on stuffing music into the Xperia Go, you will definitely need a card. The phone is billed with 8GB of internal storage, but in reality, you only have 1.7GB to work with after all the preloaded apps are taken into account.
When opening the back, it will become apparent to you that the battery is a no-go zone. It’s sealed inside to avoid water seeping in and shorting it. The ports and connectors are protected by rubberized gaskets embedded in the back panel that seal them shut. Even so, you will have to get accustomed to double-checking that the lids are closed on the microUSB and headphone jack or else you’ll likely end up with a dead phone or one lying in state in a bag of rice to take all the moisture out of the internal components.
The rugged concept in the Xperia Go has a secondary use as a fitness tool. Sony includes preloaded fitness apps, like Adidas MiCoach and WalkMate, and features them prominently on the home screen. WalkMate is a pedometer that tracks the steps you take each day and calculates the calories you lost as a result. MiCoach is more extensive, with full-on workout routines and an added focus on running. Android has a number of other fitness apps to try, but MiCoach certainly is worth testing and is a nice addition to the phone.
The camera is decent, but don’t expect anything award-winning here. In daylight or bright settings, photos come out fairly well, but once the lighting dims or you’re out at night, the sensor clearly struggles.
It’s also worth noting that the screen’s resolution isn’t the most ideal for watching high-res video, but you can manage, if your plan is to watch an episode of a show you downloaded or rented while sitting in a hot tub, for example.
If the Xperia Go is something that interests you, then you probably already know that it’s very much a niche smartphone. This is a departure from the high-profile flagships that get the most attention, but it does offer a few things they can’t do. To get a small, rugged and water-resistant body required trade-offs in features and performance. If that sounds like a good deal for you, you might be pleased with the results.
It's a super -smart, super-sexy, super-durable phone. The Sony Xperia go is a tough little number with a scratch-resistant display, handy battery-save mode, and the highest water and dust resistance out there. All that and it's just 9.8mm thin with a stylish look and killer performance to match-it's got a 3.5" touchscreen, Android 4 and a 5MP camera with digital zoom and LED flash.
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