Look and feel
The Sony Xperia Go’s durable construction means it can take a tumble into a toilet bowl or off a desk and survive just fine. It’s a compact phone that slips with ease into any pocket
Ease of use
Some people may struggle with the compact display, while Android Gingerbread lacks some of the refined features of later versions, and the touch-screen isn’t quite as responsive as we’d hoped. We also found that signal dropped out occasionally
The Xperia Go’s five-megapixel camera takes sharp daylight shots and 720p video, and you get a front-facing lens for Skype calls. Android Gingerbread is rather antiquated though, so here’s hoping for an Ice Cream Sandwich update soon
A dual-core processor makes short work of apps and games and has you covered for the foreseeable future
We found the Xperia Go easily lasted two full days with light use, and survived the day even when watching videos and playing with apps and games
Considering how much abuse our mobile phones have to put up with, it’s surprising how fragile they can be. Drop the average smartphone on the pavement and chances are it’ll come out cracked, chipped, or all-out smashed – and of course, we’ve all had that frantic moment where our precious mobile has tumbled in horrifying slow motion into a gaping toilet bowl.
Sony’s Xperia Go follows in the hardy footsteps of the Motorola Defy Plus, Motorola Defy Mini and a handful of other ‘life-proof’ smartphones that are designed to survive such everyday perils. For a start, the 3.5-inch screen is scratch-proof. We attacked it with pens, paper clips, desk corners and more, and it emerged unscathed. Sony has also covered the Xperia Go’s ports with rubber tips, which help to keep out water and dust/powder (bakers will know the pain of getting flour in your phone all too well). Providing these seals are all intact, the phone can survive a short spell in water without issue.
The Sony Xperia Go takes a short swim in a fishbowl
The Xperia Go is quite compact, although the lip beneath the screen (featuring the ‘Xperia’ branding) does add a bit of extra length, as with the similarly-sized Sony Xperia U. At just a shade under 10mm thick, you’ll have no trouble slipping it into your pocket. It’s also comfortably light without feeling plasticky. The textured rear stops it from skidding across desks when knocked, and keeps the phone stuck to your palm too. The edges of the phone are clutter-free, with a power button on top and volume buttons on the right-hand side.
Phone, text, email
Running Android Gingerbread, we’re hoping that the Xperia Go gets an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich soon, as this OS is looking its age. Call quality is fine, although we did experience the occasional cut-out and signal loss when making calls. We also noticed our data connection dropped more often than usual when using the Xperia Go, especially on the daily commute, which was particularly annoying. We’re not sure if this is a design issue, but the problem vanished when we switched phones. We had the same issue with GPS, which struggled to find out location more often than not.
Texters and emailers will want to try the Xperia Go in a store before they lay down their cash, to see if they’re fine with the compact screen. We found we mistyped a fair few words when holding the phone vertically, but turn it horizontally and the Xperia keyboard has a bit more space to work with, giving you larger buttons. Tap on any mistakes and a bar of most likely replacements appears, so it’s easy to correct any errors.
Websites loaded quickly in the Android browser (when we found a a decent connection). Zooming in and out didn’t distort the sites we visited, which you often see on other Android phones, and we weren’t waiting for the phone to catch up when we flicked through a page really fast. You can also stream video direct from websites such as 4OD and BBC News. Unfortunately, the screen isn’t as responsive as we’d have liked – we occasionally had to push quite hard when scrolling, reminding us of the old resistive screens of yesteryear.
Social networking fans get a Facebook app pre-installed (although curiously not Twitter), or can use Sony’s Timescape widget to view comments from friends on their desktop. Timescape hasn’t changed any from the last time we saw it – you still have to manually update it, and the sync can sometimes take longer than you’d hope. We prefer sticking with the Android Twitter and Facebook apps.
Speaking of apps, the Xperia Go comes with a small selection of fitness apps, including WalkMate (which tracks how far you walk) and Adidas miCoach (a personal trainer featuring Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray and other sports stars). With the tough construction, we’d feel happy taking this phone on our training sessions or down the gym (if we ever did either of those things).
Games and media
The Xperia Go’s 3.5-inch TFT display may be small and a little unresponsive, but it’s sharp enough to enjoy your favourite TV shows, with strong colour reproduction. It’s bright enough to ward off any irritating reflections, although a grid of dots can be seen in the background if you look closely – another sign of the screen’s budget roots.
Battery life is a big strength of the Xperia Go, strengthening Sony’s assertion that this is a phone for people always on the move. In standby battery life barely trickles at all, giving you days of use. If you like to text and email, you should still get a couple of days of use, while hitting the web or playing media eats it up faster. Even heavy gamers should still get a day’s use, and will be happy with how their games run thanks to the dual-core processor.
A five-megapixel camera takes surprisingly sharp shots, with a range of controls including ISO adjustment and pre-set scenes. You can shoot 3D panoramas and 720p video too, making this a handy little snapper for the cash. There is some shutter lag however, which is annoying when you’re trying to take action shots, while low light shots are typically grainy (but you have a built-in flash for when it gets too dark). A front-facing lens can be used for Skyping your buddies.
Sony’s Xperia Go is a hardy mid-price Android smartphone that can take a fair bit of punishment and emerge unscathed. Constant travellers should consider it for the hardiness combined with the excellent battery life, although the signalling issues are a concern. Usability takes a serious hit too, from the compact, unresponsive screen and creaky Gingerbread OS.