Sony Ericsson Satio

There are a few trade-offs, but overall we're very impressed. The Satio sports a sharp, responsive touchscreen and is possibly the year's best camera phone.

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

On behalf of tech enthusiasts worldwide, let us be among the first to welcome Sony Ericsson to 2009. At one point it seemed like the Swedish-Japanese conglomerate would be left in the recent past while the rest of the mobile world speeds away on the wave of touchscreen awesomeness. The Satio is Sony Ericsson's first touchscreen for the year and its first since last year's Xperia X1, and if you follow our reviews you'll know we didn't love the Xperia.

Happily, the Satio is exactly the kind of touchscreen experience we needed to see to restore our faith in Sony Ericsson. Though it uses resistive touchscreen technology the phone is extremely responsive. You do need to give the screen a gentle push when making selections, rather than just touching the screen as with capacitive screen technology, but it is a very gentle push and the extra effort will help you to not make selections accidentally.

The 3.5-inch display is bright and richly coloured and is a pleasure to use. We did find that the screen was difficult to read under sunlight at 50 per cent brightness, but this is par for the course with most mobiles. Around the edges of the phone you'll find a number of buttons and sockets, including dedicated camera keys and a microSD card slot. The Satio's lack of a built-in 3.5mm headphone socket is a disappointment and the absence of an adapter in the box with the headphones is a major oversight. Please Sony Ericsson, make a standard headphones socket a standard inclusion on your phones, especially ones geared towards media playback, as the Satio is.

Party animal

Though the Satio might seem on the surface to be in the same category as the iPhone, Samsung's Omnia and Nokia's N97, we contest that it lives in a different category. While the aforementioned try to prove their merits as business phones with fun elements, the Satio is all party. Sure, it can access your business email and calendar thanks to a licensed version of RoadSync pre-installed, but the phone's strengths lie with media, in both capture and playback.

Its 12.1-megapixel camera is the show-stopper and we've been very careful to put it thoroughly through its paces. The verdict is good, and though there's a number of issues to point out, we've been very happy with the experience overall. The camera software starts quickly after you open the lens cover, and the settings are laid out in a finger-friendly fashion. The auto-focus and shutter speed is rather slow, averaging at about 1.4 seconds, so you may have a decent chance of catching your kid's second or third steps, even if you miss the first.

Photo comparison side by side: the Satio (top) and the Canon IXUS 120 IS (bottom)
(Credit: CBSi)

Picture quality during our tests ranged from good to great, depending on the lighting situations. Daytime shots, especially in warm afternoon light, are gorgeous, but night-time shots tests the image sensor's sensitivity and the results tended to be extremely noisy. We also saw some of the worst red-eye in night shots that we've ever come across — even subjects across a room had glowing balls for pupils like burning hot coals.

To really test the Satio we paired it with the 12-megapixel Canon IXUS 120 IS, an Editors' Choice award winner, for a photo tour of Sydney's CBD. Side by side the results obviously favour the Canon, but the Satio kept up well enough to win our admiration. Though the tiny lens doesn't let as much light in as the Canon, the colour and detail in the images were in the same ball park as the dedicated shooter.

Photo comparison side by side: Satio (left) and the Canon IXUS 120 IS (right)
(Credit: CBSi)

Media and the web

The lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket is a big letdown in our books, but if you can get past this you'll find the Satio is quite a media hub. The media menus are clear and well designed, which is the same Sony Ericsson experience you find across its Walkman range. From the home screen you can access this menu using a dedicated on-screen media key, or by pressing the mechanical media key on the right side of the handset. The 360x640-pixel display looks fantastic playing back video content, and the Satio will recognise WMV, 3GP, MP4 and Real Video media files.

The pre-installed web browser is one of the better browsers we've come across, even while the HSDPA latency makes page load speeds a drag. Some pages can take up to 20-plus seconds to load, but once available these pages look great, with excellent rendering and smooth finger navigation. For the best results we suggest you stick to mobile web pages, these load quickly and look best on a screen this size. Look our for YouTube and Facebook apps designed for the Satio tucked away in the "My Apps" folder — the YouTube app in particular is great to use.

Built for speed

Our time with the Satio marks the fourth opportunity we've had this year to experience the phone in person, and each time we've seen a significant improvement in performance. In fact, it's gotten to the point where we don't see any performance lag when moving through the menus or switching applications. Sony Ericsson has refined this interface to a point where we have no reservations in highly recommending this touchscreen experience.

Areas where we remain reserved are in regards to battery life and cell tower signal reception. The battery life is bad, but not unusually so for a touschscreen with a large display. As with many phones in this class, the Satio's battery lasts for about a day, and we found ourselves charging it each evening. The reception issues were more concerning, with the Satio losing the ability to make calls or send messages in areas where few phones struggle, like train stations for example. Those familiar with the iPhone will know about this trade off; exceptional performance in a few key areas — the camera and media playback in the case of the Satio — at the expense of phone functionality under certain circumstances.

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Ahmad posted a comment   

Excellent Camera results. Bugs are fixed with latest software update. Now runs smoothly.
LOVE you Sony Ericsson.


mus posted a comment   

The Good:camera

The Bad:battery

i think the battery life is very poor. but i still love sone ericsson..


Rob posted a review   

The Good:Excellent camera, big screen

The Bad:Poor battery life, very slow software, constant crashing/freezing, touch screen is crap

After about 8 years with Sony Ericsson, this is my last one. First phone was excellent but they have just been getting worse. Sent away three times for repair and nothing has been fixed. Luckily Vodafone are giving me something completely new free of charge.

Sony Ericsson - never again.


Callas posted a review   

The Good:Camera

The Bad:Touch screen is dreadful

Clumsiest piece of techno junk I've ever owned


shahars85 posted a reply   

i had 2 sony before c905 c800. they both were fantastic with great camera with owsom xenon flash, that really improved the pictures. what that really make those phones work better than satio, if in the speed of opening files, like a song, it's much more faster with memory card m2 that in satio it's SD. with m2 you can enjoy camera menu faster for exp. applications run faster for exp. another thing that really botter me, why oh why? sonyericsson use nokia as system. what happen? all the smarts fired?
thanks for listening


cbb posted a comment   

The Good:games

The Bad:everything.. literally

Well it stops working out of the blue, it freezes and it has poor battery life. Get a life sony and bring out something thats not crap and actually works !


wolffa posted a reply   

mate it sounds like u just got ine with a glitch did u ever tell who u got it from coz they should of sent it to get checkd


PhoneKiller posted a review   

The Good:Rich features, nice camera, large screen, has everything

The Bad:not much feature/setting on camera, gps/phone signal issues, few bugs on symbian OS

battery life improve significantly if you're using the latest firware/update; wisepilot is good but way too slow to lock-on satelites


K8 posted a comment   

The Good:Camera

The Bad:Everything but the camera

I have had mine for 3 months. Phone continually re-starts itself, touch screen not responsive, not all letters appear on qwerty keyboard, answer button does not always work, drops out during calls, update did not help. Waste of money especially for a small business owner. Frank you must work for Sony or use your phone as a camera/paperweight, cause no loves everything about any phone. see the sony web site forums about how SH#T this phone is

BenjaminO Facebook

BenjaminO posted a review   

The Good:Camera, Screen resolution

The Bad:Audio playback, Symbion OS,

I found the hardware to be pretty top shelf. However the performance issues and just plain chunky user experience from the OS leaves me disappointed, In particular the audio playback's ad lib and frustrating volume control. Would have enjoyed android, for app's etc.

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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Ericsson Satio

  • Ahmad


    "Excellent Camera results. Bugs are fixed with latest software update. Now runs smoothly.
    LOVE you Sony Ericsson."

  • mus


    "i think the battery life is very poor. but i still love sone ericsson.."

  • Rob



    "After about 8 years with Sony Ericsson, this is my last one. First phone was excellent but they have just been getting worse. Sent away three times for repair and nothing has been fixed. Luckily Vo..."

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