Overall Sony Satio is a slight disappointment. It’s not that it’s a bad phone or a failure altogether. And it’s not that it doesn’t have some good points:
- The camera is no SLR or Lumix but the power it packs in such a small factor is great.
- The GPS is great. Extremely quick to get and retain a fix and a joy to use with the large-ish 640*360 screen
- The Internet browser can play embedded youtube videos
- The music collection functions seem great. The heritage of the W series allows the Satio to just shine here.
- Technology shitload: 12MP camera, FM radio, an excellent GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, HSxPA. The only phone that packs a similar amount of technology is probably the N900.
So what’s not to like? Quite a few actually:
- The battery life sucks. I jokingly compared it to the iPhone but it’s worse.
- The resistive touch screen. I’ve read some reviews swearing that you can’t tell the difference. They’re lying. You can. Even these reviews admit so much, when they claim that sometimes you need a stylus and/or exert more pressure.
- The on screen qwerty keyboard: forget it. Don’t even try it. The onscreen numpad keyboard is the only thing that works. At least without a stylus (no it’s 2009; I will not use one).
- The browser (1): the touch interface is a small pain to use for scrolling in most applications but a HUGE one when it comes to the browser. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to enter the page overview mode just to be able to scroll down.
- The browser (2): it may be a full HTML browser but it falls short. My corporate webmail doesn’t work with it, facebook mobile seems to just crash it (after working for just one time).
- The UI: while Sony has evidently done a lot of work adding their own shell over Symbian, it’s still Symbian. And their own shell is not that good compared to Sense UI or even the default UI of Android and iPhone (wtf only 8 application shortcuts?). And by the way, if something is not in the default UI, good luck finding it.
- The operating system: I don’t know and don’t care if it’s a poor one, but Symbian has aged and contrary to a good wine has not aged well. It feels sluggish, slow and as if it was hacked to allow for a touch user interface.
- Headset: Sony Ericssson seemed to be able to cram a shitload of technology in a quite small form factor but not an audio jack. A pity.
- Application store: no, there isn’t any. No the Play Now arena is not even a poor excuse of an application store (though you can add support for the Nokia Ovi store and partially alleviate this problem)
So should you buy one? Well it depends. If you just need a convergent device, something that packs everything and the kitchen sync (media station, camera, GPS, radio, wireless, a browser and a phone) and for some of them does way better than the competition, yes you should. If you are looking for a smartphone though, don’t. Go buy an Android or an iPhone instead. Having played with the Satio, the N97 and the 5800 I am pretty confident that Symbian, at least in its current 5th edition, is not suitable for this generation’s smartphones. It’s just too bad that Nokia didn’t realize this earlier.