Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:57:09 PM
The Sony Ericsson Naite boasts a humungous battery life, thus reducing the amount of electricity needed, thus helping the environment.
The camera is poor both in terms of quality and features, while the view finder is of the smallest of proportions.
The mobile phone industry has always faced something of a quandary when faced with questioning from the green police. By their very nature, mobiles are not the most eco-friendly devices, what with their constant need to be recharged, the potential pollution from a phone’s battery and not to mention the carbon footprint these devices clock up when shipped halfway around the world. With no chance of mobile phones disappearing anytime soon, friends of the environment will at least take heart in the fact that manufacturers are doing their bit in making the industry that little bit greener. Sony Ericsson has introduced an entire eco-friendly range, Greenheart, of which the Naite is its flag bearer.
Right from the off, the Naite screams green. The box is impressively compact, which of course will help maintain a lower carbon footprint. While not jam packed with accessories, the Naite does come boxed with the standard charger, handsfree kit, an e-manual (thus saving paper), warranty and another piece of literature explaining what makes the Naite so environmentally friendly. There’s also a white carrier case that is made from eco-friendly materials, naturally.
Forgive our naivety, but when we were told that the Naite would be made from recycled and recyclable materials, we weren’t expecting much in terms of the looks department. Well, we’re pleased to say that what actually greeted us was a phone that, while a tad ‘old skool’, is no ugly duckling; it resembles something akin to the rather handsome Nokia 6700 Classic. OK, so we have our reservations regarding the plastic correlated back cover, but this is certainly not a phone you’d be embarrassed to pull out of your pocket. At only 84 grams, the Naite is also remarkably light. In fact, we’d have preferred it to have been a little heavier; it feels a little too lightweight and we know which one our money would be on in a tussle between the Naite and a concrete floor. The keyboard has been designed in such a way that it looks as though it could be metallic. While this is a well-construed trick, there is no getting away from the fact that the plastic feels creaky and flimsy. However, perhaps criticising the Naite’s bodywork is somewhat missing the point.Anyone familiar with Sony Ericsson handsets from around 18 months ago will instantly recognise the keypad. Above the standard 3x4 numeric keys are the shortcut key (access your favourite applications or any programs that are running in the background, a cancel key, the call and call end keys, all under another two hard keys that refer to the menu options found on the bottom corners of the screen. Taking centre stage, quite literally, is the D-Pad that engulfs the confirmation key. Even for those unschooled with Sony Ericsson’s traditional approach will soon be a navigating whizz due to the sheer ease of use.The display, while not large – just 2.2-inches – is surprisingly vibrant sporting up to 16 million colours. The menu screen is particularly colourful with each icon positively glowing. Depending on your taste, you can change the menu view from grid (our preferred option) to rotating to single view. However, in stark contrast we did find that when we began surfing the web, the same crisp visual experience was lacking. Text was thin and pictures, while not unclear, lacked a certain sparkle.
Apart from this minor gripe, the internet experience was a speedy affair, with HSDPA speeds of up to 3.6Mbps achievable, depending on your network. YouTube was particularly impressive. Forgiving the smallish screen – not ideal for viewing content – each video we watched required just a few seconds to buffer before playing through its entirety without a glitch. While surfing, should you wish to visit another website simply begin typing with the keypad and your text will automatically be entered into a Google search bar. Something that’s not so easy is zooming into a site or viewing it in landscape mode, which requires the laborious task of actually going into the menu rather than simply turning the phone horizontally (no accelerometers) or using the volume keys.An on board Facebook app means you can set your status, view your friends and read any private messages, events or invites you’ve been sent direct from your home screen. However, to update these you will have to actually refresh them, rather than receive them in a push like fashion.
Anyway enough of this internet malarkey, let’s get back to saving the planet. It’s not just the compact packaging and recyclable bodywork that makes the Naite so green. Sony Ericsson has also included a couple of eco-friendly applications. Firstly the Green Calculator will help you work out, and then reduce your daily CO2 emissions. There’s also Ecomate, a daily quiz that determines how eco-savvy you actually are. (E.g. QUESTION: If five families turned off the tap while washing dishes for a period of 20 years, how many peoples’ daily water supply would be saved? ANSWER: nine million people).Camera wise and you’re looking at a very mediocre experience. The two-megapixel snapper does nothing other than disappoint with no zoom (unless you revert to VGA quality) or flash, while the view finder is restricted to around two thirds of the already smallish screen. The music experience fares better, with a competent music player and Sony Ericsson’s stalwart TrackID that can be used to identify tracks from mere sound bites (including the built-in FM radio) before giving you the option to purchase the tracks from the much improved PlayNow service. However, while the fact that the handsfree kit is made from 100% recycled materials should be applauded, the lack of a 3.5mm jack and call answer button is both frustrating and baffling in equal measure.
We salute Sony Ericsson for demonstrating to other manufacturers that even mobiles can be green(ish). The Naite may not be the most equipped handset and as a result we feel that it will only have niche appeal (eco-warriors, hippies and alike), but the fact that it is the first of a flurry of GreenHeart handsets from Sony Ericsson can only be good news for both us as the consumer, and dare we say it, the environment?Danny Brogandanny.firstname.lastname@example.org