Sony Ericsson Jalou in-depth review -

Look and feel

The Jalou is an absolutely tiny clamshell phone with a stylish, beveled chassis, and a tactile, flat keybad adorned with silver diamond-shaped buttons. It's so fashionable, it even doubles as a mirror.

 

Ease of use

Sony Ericsson's grid-style menu is as easy to navigate as ever, but the phone itself is pretty hard to flip open with one hand (it's what you're meant to do with clamshells!), and setting up an IM account wasn't exactly a breeze.

 

Features

For a phone placed firmly in the 'fashion' bracket, the Jalou boasts some impressive media and social networking features, from a full-bodied Facebook app, to support for HSDPA internet and streaming YouTube video.

 

Performance

Movies looked decent on its two-inch screen, but the bundled headphones are tinny and the user interface lagged occasionally. Facebook is top-notch though, with push notifications delivered to the homescreen, and the mirror feature is pretty cute - turn off the backlight and you'll be able to fix that fringe in the reflective coating.

 

Battery life

At 270 minutes talktime and 250 hours standby, it's pretty average, especially considering the lack of battery-sucking Wi-Fi and GPS.

 Sony Ericsson Jalou Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:57:12 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Great Facebook app, tactile keypad, cute design, HSDPA internet

Cons:

It?s hard to open (ridiculous, we know), user interface occasionally lags

This is going to be a first - our biggest beef with this phone is that it's hard to open. It's got a really excellent Facebook app, some good media features and the Sony Ericsson standard fashionista style, but the Jalou also happens to be a cute, teensy clamshell that is an absolute devil to flip open.

 

All clammed up
We all know the whole point of owning a clamshell phone is to be able to smugly flip it open when it rings, bark 'Speak!' down the mic, then snap it shut when the fool on the other end is done polluting your ear with his inanity. Unfortunately, you'll be the inane one struggling to open your Jalou with one hand when it rings - the two bits fit way too closely together, are too smooth to get a grip on, and the hinge mechanism is pretty heavy too.
It does look good though - the Jalou phones are jewel-themed with a bevelled design, and our review model was a handsome 'Deep Amethyst' (there's a special, even more fashionable D&G edition too). It's tiny as well, about half the size of a palm, and would easily to fit into the evening bag of your choice. Once you've got the thing open, you'll find a rather lovely keypad made of matte black plastic with flat, silver, diamond shaped buttons for the numbers. The D-pad is hexagonal with four customisable shortcuts and a central 'OK' button that takes you to the main menu, a grid of stylish, bubbly icons.
We like that Sony Ericsson phones of late have a updated messaging menu that comprises SMSes, Facebook messages, instant messages and email. Considering the intended demographic though, we found the IM program quite difficult to set up, as you are asked to fill in fields like 'Server' and 'Connection Type' with no guidance whatsoever. By the way, the intended demographic is whoever might need to use their phone as a mirror - hitting the cancel key turns on the 'mirror feature' which is basically the phone's backlight going off so that you're able to admire yourself in its reflective coating.

 

Facebook and more
We love the Facebook feature here - it's a full, Sony E-optimised app that pushes notifications to the homescreen and offers up desktop functionality. We were able to check our profile, our friends' profiles, hit links, comment/like posts, message or wall-post people, and even call or SMS friends who had their contact details directly from the app. If you choose to leave the app running in the background (which you'll have to do to be notified of new events), a Facebook widget will appear on the homescreen, and you can use the up/down keys to scroll between a status update box, a feed of friends' updates and your message inbox. Hitting any of these takes you back into the app. You can also take and upload photos from within the app, or snapping a picture with the camera also offers the option to upload, as well as share it with Blogger, Picasa or MySpace.
The camera isn't much at just three megapixels (more than enough for web though) with no autofocus or flash, but there is a night mode, several shot modes such as panorama or sequenced shots, and lots of effects and filters you can apply. After you take the photo you can also apply 'Photo Fix' which automatically evens out any light or sharpness issues.
There's also quite an impressive suite of media features - YouTube, video player, music player, radio, and access to Sony Ericsson's PlayNow Arena, where you can download (often overpriced) games, movies, videos and music. A huge plus is support for high speed HSDPA internet - particularly if you plan to stream a lot of YouTube - though the phone isn't Wi-Fi enabled. For such a teeny screen, movies don't look half bad, but the bundled set of headphones is tinny, which is disappointing because Sony Ericsson has stuck to form and not included a 3.5mm audio jack, nor even an adaptor for your own set of cans.
Unfortunately, the Jalou lagged at times. Loading and exiting applications seemed to put quite a toll on its itty processor, and there was often a freeze of a few seconds after exiting a program when none of our key input was recognized.

 

The verdict
Fashion phones often embody the 'form over function' adage, but the Jalou manages to combine both style and specs into a tiny, fashionable chassis. The Facebook app is the real deal and we love the fact you get push notifications on messages, wall posts, pokes and the rest of it - it's actually better implemented here than on some smartphones. The camera is decent for uploading the odd photo to the web, and inclusion of HSDPA internet means you can actually use some of the phone's higher-spec media features like streaming YouTube and downloading from PlayNow Arena. If you're on the market for a phone that doubles as a mirror (and moonlights as a decent little media device), Jalou just might be up your catwalk.