Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray ST18i
Created: Sun Mar 25 14:05:35 2012 | Last modified: Sun Mar 25 14:11:06 2012
Rating:Price Paid: ~ INR 18,000
Warranty: 1 year National (Sony India)
Operating System: Android 2.3 OS
This is my first Android smartphone and I have to say that my initial impressions were quite good. Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray is a mid range model with a cool, sleek and expensive look and a beautiful screen. The phone has great multimedia features. It's camera is superb, particularly in good light conditions. I particularly chose it for that reason. All in all, it feels solid and heavy in the hand, but it is a bit too thin to feel comfortable.Build quality and screen
The screen is quite decent, even in sunlight when you max out the brightness, but the lowest brightness is sufficient indoors and saves a bit of battery as well. The resolution is top-notch and you hardly have any problem with reading text on the screen. In fact, after installing the Amazon Kindle App, I am happily reading some of my favourite ebooks on this phone.
The build seems solid. I already dropped it once, from about 4 feet height and to my relief, I found no damage - not even a scratch and it fell on a rough, hard surface. However, it is a reasonably expensive phone and you would feel the compulsion to handle it gently, particularly as it is sleek in design and feels expensive too.
It is not too comfortable to hold because it is a bit too slim in design, but you can get used to that pretty quickly. However, it is safer to buy a wrist strap for this phone, because it never quite feels safely nestled in your hands.Network signal, voice quality/clarity
I believe in using a phone as a phone first and so voice call quality/clarity is important to me. So far, I haven't had any issues with signal quality or voice call clarity. However, having said that, the loud speaker mode is disappointing as the speaker volume is quite low even at the highest setting. I usually like to use the speaker phone mode, but I had to keep switching to the earpiece because the above issue.The OS/software experience
This is a decent Android phone and comes with version 2.3. The touch sensitive screen is quite sensitive (almost too sensitive at times) and you might on a few occasions even trigger touch responses with the base of your palm by mistake. This is a bit annoying. The home button is a physical button though, and that helps a bit in avoiding annoying home screen invocations in the middle of an app.
The touch screen keyboard interface is similar to an ordinary numpad phone in Portrait orientation by default and that makes sense because it is a small screen, after all. But typing is slowed down and there are plenty of chances to commit typos because of this. However, it is quite usable and that's what matters in a phone that's not advertised as a "messaging" phone.
Internet browsing is a decent experience with the built-in Android browser, but not really special particularly in Portrait mode. The small screen size makes it necessary to have to zoom in to read text on almost every website except those that have a dedicated mobile version.
The default music player is decent but not really feature rich. However, the sound quality through the provided earphones is excellent and makes for a great media player on the go. However, Sony have only provided a 4 GB MicroSD card and you won't have too much space for a lot of music and videos in this device.
The choice of default apps is decent, but you'd want to explore the Android Marketplace for those extra goodies.Battery charge cycle
To me, the battery's charge cycle is a deciding factor in purchasing any mobile phone. A lot of Android phones seem to suffer from the problem of having poor charge-to-charge times. A phone that lasts only one day on a full charge is poor performance in my book.
Luckily the Xperia Ray has been a revelation in that regard. Note that I usually turn off the WiFi, the data connection, the Bluetooth and keep the screen at minimum brightness most of the time. I also don't have a 3G connection. Keeping that in mind and keeping in mind that I am a light-to-moderate user of voice calls, media and the internet, battery lasts around three and a half days with light use and two and a half days with moderate use. That is quite decent in my opinion. However, heavy users of all the phone's features/voice calling would probably find the battery draining within 24 hours. That is to be expected, after all.Camera quality
This phone features an 8 MP camera and it does take very decent pictures in the sunlight. Even indoors, the quality of pictures are good though not spectacular, but the so-called "flash" light is next to useless. It's a manually operated on/off LED lamp and doesn't provide much illumination beyond a couple of feet. Otherwise, the camera is almost as good as a mid-range point-and-shoot camera, except that you don't have a lot of manual control over its operation and it lacks optical zoom like most mobile cameras. The lack of a physical shutter button is a bit annoying but not a huge issue. All said and done, it won't replace your regular P & S camera, but at least you have the opportunity to take good pictures on those occasions when you have left it at home.
I haven't yet used the video mode and so cannot comment on how good the video recording is.Final thoughts
I made a thorough research into this product before buying it and I must say I am not disappointed. It is a solid phone, has a sleek stylish and expensive look and also performs great. I am not a "smart" phone user and I prefer to use a phone as a voice call and messaging device primarily, but Sony's Android implementation is very nice and stable and doesn't thrust itself on the user. I don't think it is a gaming phone, but the media performance is excellent.
I rate it 8/10 for its features and quality losing two points on the pricing front.