Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
8/2/2011 12:40:12 PM
Neat styling, highly compact
Lacking in many features, no 3G
Mobile phones, you’ll remember, used to be for making phone calls, sending texts, maybe letting you play a quick game of Snake when you couldn’t get a signal. Those phones were much less powerful and capable than today’s smartphones. But they were also much smaller, not least because they came before the arrival of 3G.Sony Ericsson’s latest might almost have come from such a time – there’s no 3G radio here, either. The Spiro is a little pebble of a phone, with a gloss front and matte back and a cheerful slide-out keypad behind the 2.2-inch display. The buttons are firm, accessible and easy to use, and there’s no touch-sensitive area in sight – the front has Call and End buttons, plus four more controls and a central Walkman media playback controller. In all, it’s a refreshing change from the dozens of handsets seeking to steal the iPhone’s crown. This isn’t even trying, as the absence of 3G, Wi-Fi and GPS, shows. Mind you, it has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a rarity on a Sony Ericsson mobile.
The Walkman media control confirms that this is a music phone. Be warned, though, as in another throwback to pre-3G days, there’s very little built-in memory here (5MB, since you ask). So you’ll need to put a microSD memory card into the Spiro to carry any music around with you – there’s not enough room even for one track to be added to the built-in memory!Of course, a good experience with a mobile phone isn’t just down to the specs. Which is lucky, as we haven’t got as far as the camera yet – a measly two megapixels. On the plus side, those shots you took won’t fill up that memory card you bought any time soon.The Spiro is not entirely without features. There’s Bluetooth so you can play your music or take calls wirelessly while the phone sits in your pocket. There’s that Sony Ericsson essential, Track ID, to recognise songs for you by listening to them for a few seconds. You need some kind of a connection for the phone to transmit the sound to its remote database, mind.
You can surf the internet, though the small screen means you won’t see a huge amount and since your fastest download speed is EDGE, it may keep you waiting. There are Twitter and Facebook apps on board, though again that slow connection may stop you from enjoying your social networking fix as much as you should.
If all this sounds like we’re damning the phone, let’s at least add some faint praise: this phone may not have the latest bells and whistles but it’s great value, around £40 on pay-as-you-go. If you want a cheap handset that looks pretty cool, won’t weigh you down and has strong claims to be a decent music playback machine, it’s worth a look. £40 is the price of an iPod shuffle, with a 2GB capacity. Since you can buy a 4GB microSD card for less than a tenner, the Spiro, with its phone capabilities, basic camera, FM radio and so on, suddenly looks like a real bargain. Of course, if you want to send and receive emails on your phone – and you can with the Spiro – you may soon be longing for a larger screen and faster connection. But you’ll need a bigger, heavier phone, and a bigger budget, too.
If you’re looking for a simple phone that just makes calls, sends texts and plays music, then the Spiro could be for you.