Sony Ericsson’s Xperia line of smartphones has given the company a much needed boost in terms of sales. Indeed Sony Ericsson is going to concentrate solely on smartphones from mid-2012 onwards so you can expect them to put all their eggs in one basket. The Xperia Pro is a rather chunky phone if you compare it to the latest range of thin and light smartphones. It was probably the first thought that came to my head as I held the phone in my hands, the second was how heavy it was in comparison to the arc S, but it’s not like they are priced to compete against each other. Although there isn’t an Arc in the name, similar to the arc S I previously reviewed, this phone has a slight bend in the back so it appears that the phone is thinner than it actually is, but that did not detract from the chunky feel it gave me. I received the silver version to review but I have seen the black color in stores and the black does look better on this phone despite the fact that the smudges will be more apparent. Overall, apart from the Arc on the back there isn’t much to talk about in regards to the phone’s looks. It’s still a good looking phone but in today’s theme of thinning mobiles, this one has gone the other way.
The phone comes with a few manuals, a micro USB cable, 8gb microSD card, charger, a pair of earphones with a call button and built-in microphone, a 1500mAh battery and a micro HDMI cable which is something that was missing in the arc S bundle. It’s quite a rich bundle especially since most phones don’t include an HDMI cable and it came in handy while playing games. The Xperia Pro weighs in at 142g which isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. Indeed it felt heavier than some of the lighter phones I had recently tried but you appreciate how light it is after you hold HTC’s 180g Desire Z which I tried out back when it was new. It’s thinner as well, 13.5mm compared to 14.2 but when you throw in the arc S with its 8.9mm “thin-ness”, the Xperia Pro feels chunky again. Still with 120 x 57 x 13.5 mm dimensions the Xperia Pro is a pretty decently sized phone.
On the top front of the phone you have the earpiece, front facing camera and proximity sensor. I don’t know if there is a light sensor because there is no Auto Brightness setting in the Display menu. After the 3.7 inch screen you have three buttons at the bottom for Back, Home and Menu. On the top there is a microUSB connector in the middle of the silver band that goes round the phone. At the bottom there’s a microphone, though, it looks like a lanyard so it could be both. On the left we have the 3.5mm connector for the earphones and the Power/Lock button. On the right there’s an LED indicator just above the micro HDMI connector. The micro HDMI connector is covered, probably to ensure that you don’t mistake it for the micro USB connector as they both look very similar. Below that is the volume rocker and at the far bottom of the right side is the camera button. On the back there’s the camera with flash and a second microphone for noise cancelation. Under the Sony Ericsson logo there’s the loudspeaker about the same area where the arc S had it.
The sliding mechanism is good in general but I did have some gripes about it. When using the camera or power/lock button, the phone felt a bit wobbly around the two sliding parts. The sliding mechanism feels loose in the beginning so I initially struggled with getting a good grip on the phone but you eventually get used to it. When sliding the keyboard out I heard a light scraping noise like the two sides were touching each other. While this is not exactly a major deal, it would be if it caused scratching. The QWERTY keyboard is similar to your computer’s keyboard and it has cursor keys as well. It’s also backlit so you don’t have to struggle with typing in the dark. I found that even after a week’s use I was still getting some keys wrong, but as a whole I found the keyboard easy to use and it grows on you. Holding the phone this way took a bit of getting used to; at first it felt I was on the verge of dropping the phone but soon got used to holding it this way. The sliding mechanism can also be used to unlock the phone and the screen rotates automatically, but cannot be rotated in any other direction when the slider is out.
The phone runs the 2.3.4 Gingerbread variant of the Android operating system which has a few updates such as 3D sweep panorama and T9 with swipe. It uses Sony’s Bravia engine to sharpen images and improve photo quality and it does a great job here when you see them on the phone’s screen. The Xperia Pro runs on a 1Ghz Scorpion processor with the Adreno 205 GPU so it is by no means a slouch but it is a single core processor so you should expect that to be a limiting factor. I ran SunSpider on it and got 3446.1ms which is far less than the 2607ms the Arc S managed but I guess that’s what a 400 MHz bump does to your score. It has an 8 megapixel camera at the back capable of taking pictures at 3264 x 2448 and has autofocus and a single LED flash. It’s capable of taking 720p videos @30fps as well. Unlike the Arc S this has a front facing camera and although it’s VGA it will do fine for self-portraits and video calls.