Following on from the wallet-friendly Xperia Tipo, Sony’s Xepria Miro is a social media smartphone that’s a bit more pricey but still fits neatly into the mid-range mobile category, packing slightly upgraded features compared to the Tipo (including a larger screen and finer camera). Unfortunately the basic performance makes for a less-than-slick user experience, surprising considering the cost.
As usual, Sony has concentrated on the Xperia Miro’s design and produced a smart-looking mid-range machine. It’s unmistakably Xperia, from the rectangular build to the logo branding on both the front and rear of the phone, and it feels pleasingly solid in the hand. Our review model was all black, but you can also get the Miro in white and with different coloured strips at the bottom.
Beneath the standard three touch-sensitive Back, Home and Menu buttons, you’ll find a narrow strip that glows when you wake the phone from hibernation. In a neat twist, you can change the colour of this strip in the themes menu: choose the purple background and you’ll be treated to a purple glow, while the emerald background gives you a soothing green glow instead. It’s a pointless feature, but very snazzy. We also like the rear of the Miro, which has a soft, rubbery feel and is stubbornly resistant to scuff marks.
Melty Ice Cream
Sony has pre-loaded the Xperia Miro with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and unfortunately the basic 800MHz single-core processor really struggles to run it. We saw similar issues on the Xperia Tipo (which rocked the same CPU and version of Android) but the stutters when flicking between desktops or menus seemed more regular and irritating on the Miro. Considering the considerable price jump between the Tipo and Miro, we’re staggered that Sony didn’t upgrade to a more powerful processor: after all, the likes of the ZTE Grand X and even the Sony Xperia U pack beefier performance at the same price or under.
That shaky performance unfortunately stretches to web browsing too. Scrolling through a webpage is often a painfully stutter affair: rather than scrolling smoothly, we were usually treated to a slideshow effect as the processor struggled to keep up. Occasionally your flicks simply won’t register, or you’ll be waiting a second for something to happen. Zooming in and out and tapping links are similarly frustrating.
Thankfully, the Xperia Miro capably handles texting and emailing, as well as your social networking needs. Built-in Twitter and Facebook support extends to the Timescape feed, which gathers fresh (and no doubt hilarious) comments from your friends into one spot so you can catch up on all the goss. It’s as slow as ever when it comes to updating and can't be resized to fill the screen, but it’s still better than the Facebook and Twitter widgets (which only show you one post at a time). At least you get a good variety of widgets, with plenty to choose from to fill your five desktops.
The Xperia Miro’s 3.5-inch screen offers a little more space for prodding and poking than the Tipo’s 3.2-inch display, but we still recommend turning the phone on its side when using the virtual keyboard. When held horizontally, the keys are very close together making it all too easy to mis-type words. Thankfully Sony’s auto-correct does a good job of mending your mistakes and predicting what you’re trying to type.
Although the Xperia Miro’s screen is a teeny bit bigger than the Tipo’s, the resolution hasn’t been boosted from 480 x 320 pixels. Still, the TFT panel is sharp enough to enjoy YouTube clips and TV shows, and bright enough to comfortably read your emails or check bus times when you’re out in the sunshine.
If you’re more of a gamer than a movie fan, you’re sadly limited to simple games because of the low-powered processor. We downloaded a few titles from the Google Play store to try out, and while basic titles such as Angry Birds and Temple Run played fine, anything more complex such as Dead Trigger were a stuttery mess (to be honest, we’re surprised it even ran at all). If you’re after a well-priced gaming machine, we’d recommend the Grand X instead.
One of the biggest strengths of the Xperia Miro is its battery life. After 24 hours of moderate use (plenty of app play, web browsing, emailing and texting, all with Wi-Fi enabled), most smartphones would be on their last legs. The Xperia Miro still had 30% battery remaining, so it’ll easily last you a couple of days on a single charge if you’re careful. If you’re streaming videos non-stop or playing games, expect to get just over seven hours of use.
The Xperia Miro’s 5MP camera is a typically respectable mid-range snapper. Our daytime photos looked pleasingly vibrant when viewed back on a monitor, and even our evening shots were brighter than we expected. There’s a built-in flash for low light photography, and although our subjects were sometimes over-exposed, it’s nice to have the option to take night shots. Action snaps are harder to capture due to the two-second delay between hitting the on-screen shutter button and the photo actually taking.
Don’t expect the sharpest pics in the world, so this isn’t a camera for capturing stunning architecture, but it’s a great tool for snapping your mates or pets on the fly, and you can quickly share your snaps on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks with a couple of taps. You also get a grainy VGA front-facing lens which can be used to Skype. We liked the addition of a panorama mode, and there are plenty of other settings to fiddle with if you’re in the mood. You can also shoot low-res video, which again is best limited to simple social vids.
Sony’s Xperia Miro is a sleek little mid-range machine that unfortunately suffers because of the low-powered processor. Android Ice Cream Sandwich struggles to run smoothly and the juddery web browsing can often be frustrating, so we’d recommend checking out similarly-priced handsets like the Xperia U (rocking a dual-core processor) instead.