We’ve seen all of Sony's NXT range of Google smartphones now, a 2012 collection led by the Xperia S and trickling down to the budget Xperia U. Now the recently singled firm is focusing on more mid-range devices like the Sony Xperia Go. Read more smartphone reviews.
The Sony Xperia Go is a mid-priced Android smartphone, only one that’s built to be rugged. It's aimed at those wanting a phone which can handle some bumps and scrapes so they needn't worry about it getting damaged.
Sony Xperia Go: Design
The Sony Xperia Go has been designed to withstand the elements – Sony says it has the highest water and dust resistance of any smartphone. Sony tells us it has an IP67 rating, meaning an ingress protection from particles as small as dust, and water to a depth of 1m.
Flaps around the plastic casing seal the ports. The Sony Xperia Go is available in the standard-issue black or white options, as well as a more vibrant yellow.
It's a distinctly square-looking phone, much like Sony's other recent Xperia handsets but minus the clear light-up plastic strip downstairs. This makes it more compact at 60 x 111 x 9.9mm. It’s lighter too, at a very trim 108g.
The emphasis of the design is durability, suiting those with an active lifestyle who need their phone to survive it too. The rear and sides of the Sony Xperia Go are made up by a single removable cover and the front is mostly scratch-resistant glass. Around the plastic body are rubber-sealed ports for headphones, Micro-USB, microSD slot and SIM card.
Included in the box of the Xperia Go is a wrist strap which attaches to the corner of the handset, and an armband case for outdoor and sporting activities.
Sony Xperia Go: Build quality
Solid is a good word to describe the Sony Xperia Go. The handset is stiff in its structure making it feel strong and durable. The rear cover is made of relatively thin plastic so won't be any more resistant to marks and scratches than other plastic smartphones on the market.
Importantly, the Xperia Go survived our dunking into a tank of water and continued to work afterwards. This is great if you get the phone dirty and want to clean it or keep it with you while swimming.
Unfortunately the screen can't respond to touch input while under water, so underwater snaps are not easy. But as soon as it's out you can carry on like normal. The screen also responded randomly when we dripped water on it so you’ll still need to shield it from the rain if you want to keep using it.
We did find a mechanical weakness. The SIM card tray came apart when we took a SIM card out of the handset.
Sony Xperia Go: Hardware
At around £200 SIM-free, the Xperia Go isn't the cheapest smartphone around but is less than half the price of the leaders. The middling price also reflects the hardware inside.
The specifications start well: a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor (the same found in the more expensive Xperia P), 512MB RAM, 8GB internal storage and a 5Mp camera.
However, the 3.5in screen has a disappointing resolution of just 320 x 480 pixels – hardly the ‘razor-sharp’ display that Sony describes.
Running the old Google Android 2.3 software, Sony Xperia Go was responsive enough. There's a microSD card slot when 8GB fills up. With an almost identical spec to the entry-level Xperia U, the Sony Xperia Go unsurprising scored similarly in the Geekbench 2 test, returning an average of 877 points, a decent score.
There's not much else in the way of hardware and connectivity except the regular 11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and digital living network alliance (DLNA) certification. There's no Micro HDMI nor near-field communications (NFC) included.
Sony Xperia Go: Camera
The Sony Xperia Go has a typically mid-ranged 5Mp rear -facing camera with LED flash. Unlike many Sony phones there's no dedicated camera/shutter button, although you can unlock the phone and take a picture with a single swipe from the lock screen.
Results from the 5Mp camera were disappointing, with photos looking fuzzy and frequently washed-out. We also found focusing an issue with no touch-to-focus facility.
Video can be recorded at up to 1280 x 720 resolution. This also proved a let-down; unless we kept the Xperia Go absolutely still, shot footage had a strange wobbly effect making it look like it was shot underwater.
Sony has left out the front-facing camera, we assume to help keep the cost of the handset down.
Sony Xperia Go: Software
We're becoming accustomed to seeing out-dated software on Android smartphones but Sony is one of the worst offenders of all Google's hardware partners.
Like the rest of this year's Xperia range, the sony Xperia Go comes pre-loaded with Android 2.3.7 (Gingerbread). Sony is promising to update the device to v4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) but, as usual, there's no timeframe for this. Don’t buy this handset if you’re expecting modern software on your phone today.
In spite of tired OS, Sony's user interface is very good. It's visually attractive, easy to use and has a good range of useful widgets. There are perhaps too many pre-loaded apps, only some of which are removable.
The Android OS runs smoothly on the hardware and as usual there's integration with social networks like Facebook and Twitter courtesy of Sony's Timescape. Downsides are a slightly basic keyboard setup and absence of any quick settings from the notification bar.
Sony Xperia Go: Battery life
We weren't expecting anything special from the Sony Xperia Go in terms of longevity since it has a small (and not removable) 4.8Wh battery pack. After using the Xperia Go for a few days we can report that with our average use, we only got one day of use from the battery, so you’ll need to charge every night.
Light users, who avoid browsing the web and social networks over 3G, might get a couple of days.
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