Big on looks, there isn’t a whole lot else going for Sony Ericsson’s Pureness – and that’s the way it likes it.
The transparent nature of the device is aesthetically pleasing but unfortunately, this does hinder the usability of the device.
The Xperia Pureness is deliberately low on features as it is designed to be a phone that looks good and makes calls. It does have reasonable email functionality and a music player, but no camera.
The browsing experience is frustrating but the interface is easy to navigate and there are lots of customisable shortcuts.
Battery life was above average but then, there’s nothing to use up the juice.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:56:48 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Unique design, great music player and bundled Bluetooth headphones, cheaper than other luxury handsets.
It?s sometimes difficult to see the display on the transparent screen, making texting a little difficult and web browsing very uncomfortable.
The Xperia Pureness is an odd one, not least because it doesn’t do anything, is made of plastic, and costs £650. Before you click away in disgust – it boasts the world’s first transparent display; comes with a £450 subscription to a so-exclusive-dahling concierge service; and is limited edition at Selfridges only. It’s no phone for the techie, but even so, we’re not convinced its admittedly novel gimmick works.
Designer Daniel Mauritzson made the Pureness as ‘a second phone’, an antithesis to the feature-loaded smartphones that grab most tech headlines. So all it does is look good, and it manages that with pizzazz. It’s about the length of a palm, and around a centimeter thick. The 1.8-inch display is a block of transparent plastic – though interestingly, it’s only actually transparent when the phone is on, when a blindingly white light edges the display. The minimalist, retro number pad doesn’t even have any numbers – those also light up when the phone is in use. The display is monochrome, which means you get that greeny shade of grey seen in the phones of the last decade. Six keys and a navigation pad are squeezed under the display, though the only actually visible buttons are for call, hang up and ‘OK’. You’ll need some nimble fingers to work the nav-pad, but the keypad is tactile and great for texting. Two more buttons decorate the sides of the phone for discreet volume control, and the SIM card also slots in at the side so you can easily get it in and out (for when you’re switching with that other phone you’re meant to have, we guess). In fact, so minimalist is the design that the battery isn’t even removable, but unfortunately, that trademark lump of a Sony Ericsson charger is still in play.
The phone itself is pretty usable – pressing the call button from any screen fires up the dialler; a shortcut button brings up customisable shortcuts, running apps and missed events; and that standard old-timer Sony E interface is as simple and intuitive as ever, with the useful addition of threaded view for SMSes. We’re also impressed by the on-board 2GB memory. Unfortunately, that cool see-through display makes it pretty hard to see what’s on screen – we had to hold the phone at certain angles to be able to read text thanks to the way light reflects off it. The display itself is also really small, as is the font used in the user interface, making web browsing quite uncomfortable. The NetFront browser is the standard ‘dumb’phone issue – good for mobile optimised sites only – but it feels even more barebones than usual. Zooming is far harder than it should be considering we’re working on such a tiny screen, and any pictures you browse to display quite awfully on that low-res, monochrome display. The email function is better implemented, with push support for Microsoft Exchange accounts, Hotmail, Gmail and more. The interface is very basic, but you can sync more than one account at a time and managing different accounts is straightforward.There’s no camera but there is a great little music player, with the same interface as Sony Ericsson’s media phones lately – easy to use playlists and sync capability with your media library. We also love the bundled Bluetooth in-ear headphones (model S800), which pony up rich, full audio from the super low basses to high, clear trebles. Audio can be somewhat tweaked with the MegaBass and stereo options, and Sony E’s song recognition add-on, TrackID, is always fun.
The idea of a phone that’s literally just a phone isn’t a bad one, especially as the Pureness is aimed at a fashion/lifestyle market and it definitely has a unique, high-design look. It’s a pity that transparent display gets in the way of actually using the phone, but we suspect that for anyone even considering this phone in the first place, the concierge service and design factor just might overshadow that.
Reviewed by Natasha Stokes