Large screen, attractive design, HTC Sense 3.0 user interface enhancements
The HTC Sensation XL is a really nice handset to use, thanks to that large display and decently quick 1.5GHz processor, as well as Android 2.3 and HTC Sense 3.0 keeping things interesting. The 8 megapixel camera isn't bad for an HTC camera phone, either, and the XL is a well built and handsome device, too.
However, there are a handful of niggles that sour the overall experience.
Great audio quality with Beats
Speaking of which, the price is the biggest stumbling block for Sensation XL as it stands. As a mid-range, big-screen handset, HTC would be onto a genuine winner here. But the price puts it in the firing line of the Sensation XE, the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S. And, frankly, it comes out at the bottom of that list.
Slim and well built handset
The HTC Sensation XL is a strange beast. On the one hand it's stylish, slim and well made with a nice interface but on the other it has a strangely large screen for what otherwise smacks of a mid-range handset. As for the Beats side of things, there are bound to be some people that like the headphones and if the price is right this may prove a great bundle but we've never been sold on any of the Beats Audio by Dr Dre products and this doesn't help convince us.
Good amount of internal storage
The HTC Sensation XL is a solid and high quality phone with skull-splittingly loud audio playback through the supplied Beats Audio headgear.
You get a good camera that copes well in most conditions and the fast processor means that there's virtually no shutter lag. Scrolling through web pages and maps is super-quick and games load quickly and play like a charm.
We only have one real moan with the XL and that's the decision to not include a microSD card slot.
An all-round impressive offering from HTC the Sensation XL is a leader on the audio front a barely a half step behind the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II, iPhone 4S and its dual-core siblings in terms of overall performance. The latest powerhouse to enter the smartphone fray, the brand associated with Beats audio is sure to see the XL become a massive hit and rightly so.
As it did with the Desire HD this time last year, HTC proves again that bigger is better. The 4.7-inch display makes everything bigger, easier to touch and better to read, without the screen showing its pixels and looking fuzzy. The camera is a corker, and the everyday user experience is excellent.
Great 8-megapixel camera
With its huge screen and throwback stylus, the Samsung Galaxy Note is a polarizing smartphone that winks at tablet territory. Those who like their screens XL will find a top-notch device that lets multimedia shine. The S Pen adds some artistic potential, but for some, the phone will just simply be too big.
Great multimedia device
It should be clear that the Samsung Galaxy Note is a niche product. It's not a phone designed to take over the mass market. Why is that? The big dimensions of the Note make it much more uncomfortable to handle and use than any other smartphone. Some people with extraordinarily large hands may have a chance of finding it okay, but those cases will be extremely rare. Just to give you an example, the device's size means that it's absolutely impossible to use it with one hand only.
Powerful yet long-lasting
The Note doesn't quite live up to Samsung's marketing slogan: Jack of all trades, master of all. It's on the large side for a phone, doesn't fit into small pockets and usually requires two hands for messaging. However, if you can live with these compromises the Note is a sleek, attractive powerhouse with one of the nicest screens we've ever seen, superb battery life and great video recording plus playback. Once it receives its ICS update, it should match the best.
A great screen and responsiveness
The Samsung Galaxy Note is a very likable device with portability, a great screen and responsiveness on its side. The issue, of course other than with its possibly high price tag is whether there really is a market for something that straddles the smartphone and tablet divide.
Huge and lovely high res display
The Samsung Galaxy Note is the best Android smartphone of 2011. It has a superb display running at an extremely high resolution, a very useful Wacom digitizer with pen for pressure sensitive writing and drawing and a very fast dual core CPU. It's thin, attractive and though very large, can still fit in a pocket as well as medium to large hands. Voice quality for calls is excellent whether using the handset or a Bluetooth headset, HSPA+ speeds are very good and the GPS is solid.
The Galaxy Note is one of those devices that you'll either completely love or totally hate -- its sheer size alone will certainly be a barrier for those with smaller hands (or pockets). With the Note, Samsung has managed to create one of the world's largest smartphones, but cunningly it's also an incredibly compact tablet with a high-resolution display -- the same as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet -- without the high-resolution footprint.
Slim attractive design
Sony Ericsson follows up its ultrastylish Xperia Arc with the Xperia Arc S, a slightly faster version of the posh European model that runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and rocks a powerful camera. Its high price, single-core CPU, and slow data speeds will leave Android experts wanting more.
Thin, tall and narrow chassis makes it more comfortable to use than other big-screen Androids
In our review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc we said the company has nailed it, but now with the Xperia arc S, we'd say we have a minor upgrade on our hands. The thin arched profile that makes you forget you are holding a gadget with a huge 4.2 screen stays, as well as the light weight and sleek and classy look. The Timescape UI is also very pretty and functional with its 'Facebook inside Xperia' addition.
Great user interface customisations
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is a slim, bright, powerful Android smartphone that shows off the mobile operating system to its very best. The screen is fantastic and the processor and memory perform well enough to keep the Android experience running smoothly and quickly.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S isn't a phone that blows us away. In fact, considering it's Sony Ericsson's current top of the line, it's a bit disappointing. There's no dual-core processor and the build is underwhelming. However, just as with the original Arc, the Arc S packs in the essential features, has a nice screen and a great camera. What's more it's available for a decent price, making it a sound investment if you're not after the absolute biggest and best.
Incredible camera, slick design and fast performance
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is an excellent phone, boasting an incredible camera, slick design and fast performance. Compared to phones of a similar price like the Galaxy S2 (to which it is currently similarly priced) it's not quite as powerful when it comes to things like gaming, but its perhaps a more stylish (if slightly less beefy) alternative.
The Facebook Inside Xperia features are nicely integrated and will appeal to those who want a phone primarily for Facebooking on the go.
Great phone, long lasting battery life, and strong signal
This is one of the best phones MetroPCS has to offer. The sleek design, easy to use, light weight phone has all the basic features any user needs in a phone but what I truly liked about this phone is the long lasting batter life and great signal. I have used similar phones in the past, all from metro and they had week signal, cheap quality, and over heating problems. After buying this phone I no longer had to deal with any of those issues.
Very ugly UI
The LG Select is a sly phone, it's one of those phones you buy thinking "I'm just going to use it for calls and texting", and while it can do both, the other traits start to drag it down. Eventually the phone will start getting on your nerves every time you fire up the browser in an emergency, or suddenly find yourself in an area with less then utopian network coverage.
With its intuitive operating system skin, the HTC Explorer would make an excellent first smartphone. But it may not be as much of a treasure as first thought as it's not quite hitting the budget heights we thought it would - it needs to drop a few pounds per month to be a truly cheap-cheap handset.
Sense user interface
If you've owned an Android phone before, the chances are that the Explorer is not really going to appeal, as its specification is just too basic. However, if you're looking for a handset that would serve as a sensible first dip into the world of smartphones, then the Explorer's good build quality and neat Sense user interface makes it a good, if not exactly spectacular, option.
Easy to use & Easy to customise
The HTC Explorer represents great value for money. It's very easy to get to grips with and the layout is easily customisable. Overall performance is very smooth for a phone of this price and will more than satisfy those after an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone.
Our only real criticisms of it are that some may find it too small. That and that the flash-less 3-megapixel camera isn't very good.
Cool pebble-like design
The HTC Explorer, at first glance, reminds us of a black pebble that has been weathered in a river bed for a long period of time. By that, I mean, it's a solid black device that has nicely curved edges all the way around it. It ultimately feels wonderful in the hand even all the hardware buttons line up with your natural finger placements.
Gingerbread OS 3.0
To wrap up, the call features of the phone are just fine and the voice quality is pretty clear at both ends. But take this one; the phone's battery longevity does not live up to the expectation. But considering the overall performance, the HTC Explorer deal is worth-grabbing this winter.
The advantage of a relatively low-powered screen and processor is that the modest 1230mAh battery should be able to go a few times round the block without a recharge and sure enough, this one gave a little over two days of consistent use. Indeed, the HTC Explorer covers just about all the smartphone basics very well at a decent price making it a good introduction for Android newbies.
Very poor call quality
We can't help but like the Sony Ericsson Xperia active, given the multitude of accessories you get out of the box, not to mention the weatherproofing and pre-installed fitness apps. We even grew to like the protruding bottom as it houses the lanyard which we found ourselves using all the time. Unfortunately however, nothing saves the Xperia activeÃ¢?? s call in-call speaker. It really is a shame and weighs heavily on our rating.
Fast and usable camera
It's another good performer from Sony Ericsson. The Xperia Active is little more than the company's Xperia Mini in a chunky, water-resistant case, but if that's what you want... this is it. We're used to 'outdoor' mobile phones coming in awful shells and lacking features, but that's not the case here. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is a fast, usable, modern smartphone, that just so happens to be a bit better sealed off from rain and coffee than most.
After a number of years in the wilderness, Sony Ericsson (soon just Sony) is finding its feet again. The Xperia Active is a well-made, carefully thought out, specialist smartphone for those who love the outdoors. It is rugged, portable, comes with an excellent bundle including a runner's armband and has snappy performance which belies its run-of-the-mill specifications.
The Xperia Active is an interesting phone. We took too it pretty quickly, and while it isn't the sort of phone that we would probably buy, if you want something tough, water resistant and designed for workouts, then this is really an ideal phone. It's a little bit too expensive to replace an MP3 player, but if you take exercise seriously, it's the same price as a Motorola ACTV, for example, and offers you a full mobile phone too boot.
Solid-feeling Android phone
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is clearly pitched at sporty types looking for a phone that also makes a good running companion (the phone even comes packaged with an arm strap that contains a clear plastic wallet for the handset). If this is what you're after, it's a brilliant device. We submerged the phone completely in water, made calls on it, took pictures and recorded video; we really did give it every excuse to break down.
Although it has a rather small screen, the Xperia Active isn't lacking in any other department. With a robust design, decent camera and nippy processor, this is the perfect handset for adventure-addicts who desire a rugged smart phone but don't want to compromise on functionality and power.
Android-exclusive feature - rugged smartphones
The Xperia Active is priced at Rs. 19,500 (MRP) and the increasing difference between the Rupee and Dollar is taking its toll on the pricing of smartphones as well. We're mentioning this because just a few days back, the market operating price for the phone was around Rs.17,500. The only competition at present to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is the Motorola Defy+, which we'll be reviewing shortly, so stay tuned for that.
Good battery life
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Active is available at a recommended retail price of $498 (inclusive of GST) without a line contract. Compared to its immediate rival, the Motorola Defy ($528), the Xperia active is a better alternative for its overall better performance. However, with the Motorola Defy spending a significant amount of time in the market, you can expect a reduced price point from retailers if you look hard enough.
High pixel density display
To summarize our impressions from the tiny phone it is tempting to dismiss the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray as a less-capable version of the Xperia arc, but what you get is in fact a more compact variant, without sacrificing much but an HDMI port. Actually, the fact that the 8MP Exmor R camera didn't perform as well as we expected, and also that the LED on the back has to be used as a light instead of automatic camera flash, are the only letdowns we experienced with the Xperia ray.
Excellent call quality
The Xperia ray is a great looking, compact smartphone that's nippy to use, takes great still photos and has some neat updates to the standard Android user interface. However, its small screen can make web browsing a chore, its HD video recording is a bit of a let down and it suffers from less than impressive battery life.
We were pleasantly surprised with the Xperia Ray. Expecting a plasticky, miniaturised Xperia Arc wannabe, what Sony Ericsson have made here is perhaps what the Xperia Neo should have been. Noticeably smaller than the Xperia Arc, arguably as thin, and lighter it has carved out a place for itself, and not just as Sony Ericsson's "cheap Android phone".
Far from the most powerful smartphone on the market, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray does, however, punch far above its weight in the ranks of the mid-range handset. Speedy and simple to use the Ray makes the most of the feature its expected user base is likely to covet with a few extra high-performance treats thrown in for good measure.
Good hardware under the hood
The Xperia Ray offers a nice alternative to the increasing size of today's smartphones, but for us, the 3.3-inch display is a little too small to remain entirely usable. The virtual keyboard experience suffers and you'll find yourself pinch-zooming more than with most other phones.
Pretty smooth TouchWiz 4.0 UI
Unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus comes with almost insignificant upgrades as compared to its predecessor (a slightly larger screen, and the now very common 1GHz CPU) but we get the same design and poor HVGA resolution. Even if it is almost the same as the original Ace, the Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus does not have an attractive price tag, some may say it is even steep for what it has to offer.
Offers plenty of cool Android features
The X10 Mini Pro is heavy on the cute factor, and its slide-out QWERTY keyboard makes this phone much more usable than its tinier sibling, the X10 Mini. But it's still not the most practical phone for all users. It offers plenty of cool Android features, but the phone is just too small to really take advantage of all of them.
Feature rich phone
The Sony Ericsson X10 mini pro is a handset that requires many caveats before recommendation. If you're looking for a powerful and feature rich phone with as small a footprint as possible that has a physical keyboard then it is without equal. However, if you're simply looking for a good budget smartphone then there are other handsets we'd recommend.
A cool and cute little smartphone with all the power of Android in a pocket-sized format.
We're fans of the Xperia Mini Pro for the simple reason that we're seeing something different. The slide out keyboard is surprisingly easy to use despite being squished into a smaller space, and the larger screen makes using the phone a lot easier than the previous version we used.
Decent QWERTY keyboard
The Xperia X10 mini pro is an engineering feat, but we don't buy phones because they are a certain size, shape or colour performance always has to come first. The X10 mini pro includes all of the features you'd expect from a smartphone, fast web speeds, Wi-Fi and GPS, a good suite of apps and an online store to expand its functionality, and it packs it all into a unit that is about half the size of a standard phone.
Fast, fluid performance
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini could be tempting if you're considering upgrading to a smart phone, but don't want one of the massive, sun-blocking slabs that are all the rage at the moment. Its screen is surprisingly spacious, given the phone's amazingly small case, and it even shoots HD video. If it turns out to be as usable as we expect, it could be a winner.
Affordable no-contract cost
After giving it a good rundown, it's blatantly obvious that the Samsung Exhibit II 4G isn't the shiniest thing out there, but if you're able to overlook some of its inconsistencies, you'll find a reasonably priced smartphone that's equipped in handling most basic needs. Even better, it's not going to drain your pockets thanks to its $29.99 on-contract price â?? plus, you can pick it up for $199.99 as a prepaid option too.
Surprisingly good pre-loaded apps
It's hard to argue with the Samsung Exhibit II 4G's price tag. At $30 (after a $50 rebate) with a two-year contract, or $200 for pay-as-you-go at Walmart, you'll be hard pressed to get a better smartphone for your money, especially at 4G speeds.
To get to this very low price point, Samsung has obviously skimped on some of the hardware, but the only place it really hurts is the screen, which is hard to see in sunlight and cramped for typing.
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