Sony Ericsson, now Sony Mobile Communications, has always been in the limelight for introducing new phones. Its phones are considered to be beauty-with-brains, slick, compact, elegant, delicate, and equally powerful. It's all thanks to the Adreno GPU incorporated in most of Sony's Android phones. Sony's Symbian and Java-based handsets are also known for their photo and video quality.

Sony’s Xperia range of Android handsets has a new entrant, and those on a low budget can rejoice. This one has a dual-core processor, which spells performance. We had the Sony Xperia Go ST27i in our lab for a while, and we did perform a few extreme tests on it. Read on and find out how this phone performed.

An IP67 Certified rugged all-weather Android Smartphone

An IP67 Certified rugged all-weather Android Smartphone

Design and Build
The Xperia Go is an elegant looking handset, which is small, and fits very snug in your palms. The exterior is a smooth powder finish while the display glass is the only glossy surface you see. The powder finish is designed to resist water; so you can the phone outdoors in the rain. But do note, that the Xperia Go is available in two other colors—White and Yellow have a completely glossy shell. The product is IP67-certified, which means it is dustproof and waterproof up to one meter under water for almost 30 minutes at a stretch. The display glass is scratch-resistant and the back panel is watertight.

Every port is shielded by rubber flaps.

Every port is shielded by rubber flaps

Every port – the USB, micro SD, SIM card slot and the audio jack – is equipped with watertight rubber flaps to prevent dust, water, and moisture from reaching the circuitry within. This handset was IP67 certified as it is completely rugged and weatherproof. You can use it in any weather, and even underwater.

the rear features a 5MP camera with LED flash

The rear features a 5MP camera with LED flash

We conducted a casual underwater test to verify the manufacturer’s claims. We submerged the phone in glass of water – we definitely did not test it in a swimming pool, but we would have, if given a chance – after ensuring all the port flaps were closed, and the back panel was safely attached. The phone was switched on before submerging it. It worked well even after being submerged for almost 10 minutes. We even called the phone and were able to receive the call with the caller being heard from inside the glass full of water. We also confirmed that the display was usable even with wet hands under water. We also used the phone in bad weather during a monsoon shower and it did not fail us. The IP67 certification is truly for this phone, and we recommend the Xperia Go for those who want a truly rugged and all-weather handset. The phone is definitely a best choice for frequent travellers, sports enthusiasts, and those who visit places with extreme weather conditions.

We submerged the phone in water to test the certification

We submerged the phone in water to test the certification

In goes the Xperia Go (in a jar of regular drinking water)

In goes the Xperia Go (in a jar of regular drinking water)

We did call the phone and it works......

We did call the phone and it works……

Moving ahead, we did find a very tiny flaw in the handset. The rear panel does not clamp back very snugly to the frame. After opening the rear panel, you have to nudge a little around all the areas that clamp to the frame. Once you hear a faint click, you are assured that the panel has rested in place. But this can be ignored altogether as no one would actually open the rear panel very often.

The display used here is a 3.5-inch LED-backlit TFT screen sporting a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. It is scratch-resistant, but that does not mean that it cannot get scratched at all. The scratch-resistant panel is safe from scratches and minor damage caused during everyday wear and tear such as being wiped, slid into the pocket, and kept along with other things in a bag or purse. However, the screen can get scratched with sharp objects such as keys or if it falls to the ground. The display screen is slightly elevated by around a millimetre, and it does not feature any physical buttons for the Home, Back or Menu functions. The touch sensitive buttons are kept in mind for the complete watertight shell which could give-in if the buttons were physical. The display is multi-touch and can be operated by four fingers simultaneously giving you more freedom while gaming on the phone. The display uses the Sony Mobile Bravia Engine for better quality and crisp details. Hence, even though the display has a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels, the pixels are not easily seen unless inspected minutely.

the insides are pretty safe with every port and entrance water-tight

the insides are pretty safe with every port and entrance water-tight

The waterproof shell has physical buttons for changing the volume and power. But these buttons simply press internally sealed buttons, keeping it watertight. The speaker, mic and earpiece are the only areas that need to be left open, but those too have been cleverly shielded by a water-resistant mesh. The body is compact (only 9.8mm), elegant, and weights only 110 grams.

The headphones are decent, have small ear buds, and fit snugly in the ear. The cables are long and soft. The audio quality is great. Unlike handsets from other brands, you won’t need to opt for another pair of headphones to get better audio quality. Do note that the earphones are not waterproof.  You may use them in the rain, but it is not recommended as you would need to open the earphone flap, which could let water into the phone easily.

Features and Performance
Though a comparatively low-priced phone, the Xperia Go is definitely not an underperformer. It runs on a dual-core 1GHz Cortex A9 processor, coupled with a Mali-400 GPU for a good performance. The chipset used is NovaThor U8500, and the RAM supplied is 512MB. The phone has a built-in memory of a good 8GB, which can be expanded further by 32GB using the microSD slot.

We ran a few benchmarks on it. NenaMark spewed a score of 70,049, which is marginally higher than the rest of the phones in the Xperia series. Linpack too gave a score of 65.8 MFLOPS and 41.3 MFLOPS, which are both around 30 percent higher than the others. Quadrant shelled out a total score of 2,574 while AntuTu resulted in 5,745. A table listing the comparative scores is given for your reference.

A table for comparing the performance.

Comparison table for performance

The operating system featured here is the outdated Gingerbread. We expected to see at least Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), if not Jellybean. The manufacturer claims that it would release the ICS update soon, but there is no word on an upgrade to Jellybean yet. However, once you use the phone with the proprietary TimeScape UI, you won’t know what is under the hood. The user interface is very smooth and fluid, thanks to the additional support from the onboard GPU, and the sensitive touchscreen. The ICS update should be able to take the performance of the phone to a higher level.

Fitness Apps from Adidas.

Fitness Apps from Adidas

Sony has been equipping most of its phones with fitness applications by making an intelligent use of the built-in accelerometer. The app on this phone is by Adidas, and has an improved user interface and many features. It helps you keep yourself fit by analysing the walking or running speed when the phone is strapped to your waist. The app also uses the Internet to determine your average speed by matching it to the online natural speed database. Also there is an automated miCoach utility within the app to help you maintain your fitness with built-in diet plans.

Timescape UI and the device info.

Timescape UI and the device info

We tested a few media files on the phone. Though the phone has a dual-core processor and GPU that can handle high-definition video, this phone did not manage to impress us. HD 1080p videos thrown at it framed badly, and were unwatchable. Even 720p and 1080p HD videos from YouTube looked as though they had been encoded in 3GP format. However, regular 720p videos from the memory card played flawlessly. The crisp display quality is perfect for enjoying the content. The brightness and contrast levels are good making the video look great and the handset a perfect entertainment device while travelling. We think the issue can be with the operating system or that the drivers in Gingerbread are causing the video jitter. Maybe the problem will be solved after an ICS or Jellybean update. But don’t let this small issue deter you from buying this phone as you aren't likely to watch HD movies on a 3.5-inch screen anyway.

The Media player.

The media player

Audio quality is great when using the earphones, but with the onboard speaker, the trebles are somewhat shrill, and the vocals not heard well. Enjoying casual audio from the built-in mono speaker would be acceptable, but movies are a plain no-no. We recommend using the headphones for better audio volume and quality.

The Xperia Go has standard connectivity like other Android phones. A micro USB for PC connectivity also supports USB on-the-go (OTG) for external storage drives and input devices. FM, GPS, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP and 3G are standard features.

The camera featured here is a 5 megapixel one with auto-focus and an LED flash. It has a 16x digital zoom capability, and can record videos at 720p resolutions. The camera coupled with the 3D panorama app pre-installed can generate quick 3D sweep panorama photos within seconds, owing to the fast processor and GPU. Face and smile detection are again standard for cameras nowadays. As far as the quality of the photos taken by this camera is concerned, it was almost immaculate. We also tried taking photos in pitch darkness. Unlike other phones, which would struggle to focus even after shining a light on the subject, this one did not falter. A short distance photo can be taken within two seconds with crisp details and a sharp focus. Distant subjects are an issue as the LED flash is not as powerful, resulting in grainy pictures at night.  But pictures taken in broad daylight are great and almost flawless. This is another example of an all-in-one travel companion phone, which doubles up as good, quick camera. The camera is super fast and takes the shot within a second or two. Here are some daylight photos that highlight the quality of the camera. Also included are a macro shot of a bug, and a photo taken in the dark in two seconds sharp.

Outdoor shoot.

Outdoor shot

Outdoor shoot.

Outdoor shot

Macro shoot

Macro shot

Indoor shoot, in pitch darkness.

Indoor shoot, in pitch darkness.

Battery test

The handset is powered by a 1305mAh Li-ion battery. Sony claims that you can get at least 6.5 hours of battery life while talking or watching a video. Standby time is around 460 hours while music time is around 45 hours. To test these claims, we ran a standard definition video continuously in a loop to drain out the entire battery, and got an average battery life of around 8 hours and 15 minutes with around 5 percent of the battery remaining but unusable. The battery run time was almost two hours above the manufacturer’s claim, but it can differ with conditions and environments. The factors that affect battery life include applications running in the background, Internet via 3G or Wi-Fi, audio volume levels, and display brightness levels. To test the talktime, we used the phone as a regular daily handset for a week and found that we did not have to charge the phone for almost 12 hours at a stretch. This includes an average of talk time, video time, music, internet via 3G and Wi-Fi and casual photography.

The overall experience was great, and the performance was very impressive. We must say that Sony’s Xperia Go is a fantastic Android smartphone for those who frequently travel. Those who love trekking, mountaineering or wandering into the wild will find this phone extremely useful. Featuring light weight, a sleek form-factor, a crisp display, a fast UI, a waterproof and dustproof shell, an onboard GPS, music and entertainment, and Internet connectivity, all packed into one phone, we definitely recommend Xperia Go to those who are looking for a completely rugged phone on a low budget.

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