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back to article Sony Ericsson Satio 12.1Mp cameraphone

Business has never been harder for touchscreen mobile phones. Not only is the iPhone 3GSso far ahead it’s little more than a speck on a distant horizon, but HTC has the geek market neatly sewn up with its Android-based Hero. Sony Ericsson Satio Sony Ericsson's Satio: coming in behind some hard-to-beat acts Even the Palm Pre …

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The single/double click thing...

...is hardly Ericsson's fault - that's a "feature" of the OS. Exactly the same on my Nokia, you get used to it, and after you do, it actually starts to make sense why it's that way.

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Silver badge

Rampant pixel fixation

OK, I'll admit I'm a pixel junky but this is a completely daft idea.

Just how good is the lens on this thing?

Unless you are buying high quality SLR lens you are unlikely to see any benefit from taking so many pixels. It just means bigger data files

And how many people routinly print photos from their mobe at 16"x12" at 250DPI?

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Coat

Pronounced...

Sashio?

Wasn't that some crap in-store brand from the 80's in Dixons?

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Unhappy

Damn connector

SE really seem to have lost their way. They produce decent phones lower down the range but in this new world of touch screen tech, they dropped their nuts. I really really wanted this to be a great phone, but they really didn't produce the goods - and to maintain that connector from the old ericsson days (plastic clips that break eventually and metal pins that get dirty and/or corrode) is criminal. Micro USB and a 3.5mm jack should be standard these days, or at the very least, extUSB.

I even fear for the X10...

I went HTC hero direction and frankly outside of the lack of flash and crap pc software, its a fine piece of kit.

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Paris Hilton

As usual, US market gets the wet willy

Over the years I have been a proponent of Sony Ericsson. I have particularly enjoyed my K790a even with its flaws -- mostly a slow processor which has a difficult time keeping up with several applications and limited memory allotted to said applications, making it impossible to run MGmaps, the media player, and snap a picture at the same time. Then my K850i, which I purchased in lieu of the long-long-delayed C905a, which is only available in bastardized form from AT&T at this time. It suffers even more so in terms of application performance and memory, sluggish as hell when playing media.

According to SE, neither of these will see another firmware update to fix reproducible bugs and numerous crashes per day. Thanks, Sony Ericsson. Thanks.

And just where is the C905a? Delayed so long that nary a vendor over here is likely to carry it when, and if, it does become available. Thanks, Sony Ericsson. Thanks.

The new Satio does not have a 3G radio which will work in the US. So how long do we have to wait to use it over here, or will an 'a' version EVER be released, Sony Ericsson. I have enjoyed the functionality, sluggish though it may be, of the Java Platform-based SE phones, and understand that the Symbian-based phones offer similar functionality. But will I ever get a chance to try this out for myself? Probably not.

Is this because Americans generally do not buy quality phones at price-points of $500 and more? I tend to doubt that since I have seen people plonk down $500 and above for crappy phones that they absolutely "needed." Then, why does Sony Ericsson tend to snub the US market?

Whatever the reason, I will likely be forced away from Sony Ericsson phones because of this. It was fun while it lasted.

Paris, fool me three times and shame on someone.

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FAIL

DON'T BE FOOLED !! This Is Ridiculously Stupid

how stupid are Sony? more to the point, how stupid do they think their customers are? Why would any manu waste time making a camera with a crap lense, it's utterly pointless. 12Mpix just means you get very large crap photos. A 3Mpix cam with a quality lense will run rings round this. The Lumix 4Mpix is a brilliant cam because it has a brilliant lense. This Sony 12Mpix is a joke, a toy for children and people too stupid to realise that without a good lense it's pointless. Sony are turning into Amstrad.

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Just don't go near it on Orange (yet)!

Orange have completely screwed this phone and I haven't yet got a fix out of them. They removed the iPlayer and YouTube apps, but the S60 uninstall stubs are still there meaning you can't even install the proper YouTube app yourself.

Of course, when I first tried to explain this to their support people, I got told that "Orange don't ship these applications and you'll need to install them yourself", which kind of missed my whole point. The second response to much the same query was slightly more helpful (they promised to at least pass it on to someone else) and I've tried to attack the problem via the SonyEricsson route too hoping that they'll help the network sort it out since they're going to suffer too.

Also, at least on Orange, iSync doesn't work properly (despite there being iSync drivers on the SE site), it won't accept the "Send all Contacts" file from previous non-S60 SE phones (like the K750i, K850i, etc) and the it's missing the number-type icons in the history. Older SE phones show an icon for mobile, home, work etc and despite this phone having the numbers (eventually), it doesn't distinguish between them in the call history list which is a big fail on user interface consistency.

The TV-out is pretty neat too, though watching iPlayer through TV-out is pretty ropey on quality. Oh yeah - that's another thing - why does iPlayer not work over Orange's HSDPA network? It's certainly fast enough, but for some reason I'm told I'm only allowed it if I'm on Vodafone! Are the BBC protecting me from bandwidth charges or what??

I also hate shareware like QuickOffice and Adobe Reader on the phone - if you're going to put them there, licence them and give me them or leave them out for me to decide.

All in all, 70% is probably fair (I might go to 60% until some of this stuff is fixed). They are all pretty small annoyances in the grander scheme of things and I'm sure that before this contract's out I'll be enough of a pest to get Orange and SE to fix them!!

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FAIL

Pah

tish and pish, roll on Rachael.

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Welcome

@Sarah Davis, Dazed & Confused

Although are right re megapixels, The Camera on this thing is absolutely fantastic. The best Camera on a cameraphone I have ever used, its so quick and the picture quality (ON screen, didnt get chance to chece printed, and on PC) is unbelieveable.

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Boffin

Obviously the author is not familiar with SE.

The question posted in the article was: "Who would have suspected, for instance, that the Satio's file manager and list of applications lay beneath the Organiser icon, which looks at first glance like a calendar app?"

Answer: Any SE user.

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Go

My thoughts...

I think this review is a bit poor actually. Taking your "main bugbear" as an example...

Haptic feedback. If you don't like it, turn it off. Or choose another one of the 3 levels. The fullscreen QWERTY keyboard - keys are wider than that of the iPhone, although there's not a gap between them - is pretty damn accurate on my Satio and I like that there's a positionable mini QWERTY as well. And there's a proper numberpad with T9 should you want to use it. I agree that there not being a dictionary is an oversight, but I'd turn it off if there was one anyway. You also ignored the fact that there is handwriting recognition, which I've found works pretty well. Bottom line is that I've not found typing a problem at all.

I see the old single tap, double tap thing was brought up as well. It's pretty straight forward to understand - single tap on grid views, double tap on list views. The first of a double tap highlights an entry and the second tap selects it. Makes sense to me and I don't really have a problem with it. Another complaint was about where the file manager was located. Don't like it? Move it.

One other point was ergonomics. Edges make the phone easier to hold one handed and the top and bottom are curved so that it's more comfortable when holding two handed in landscape. As for height and width, they're less than the iPhone, so not too bad. It's a bit thicker, but really, is an extra 5mm too much? I make it 18mm at the thickest point.

I wholeheartedly agree with the proprietary connector thing being nonsense, that's my biggest gripe about the phone.

Your comments about the cost seem a bit wrong to me. I took out a two year contract on Orange, as a brand new customer and got the phone for £140 on a £20 contract with 600 mins, unlimited texts and mobile web. That's a whole lot less than a iPhone.

Another thing I'm surprised to see totally ignored is the new home screen Sony Ericsson put on Symbian. I think it's a big improvement and very usable. And the 60 free movie downloads from Sony's PlayNow service.

As for the other comments - the lens is good, this is a fantastic camera phone, far better than anything else I've ever tried including a Nokia N82 and N86. It has replaced a compact camera for me. Sorry Sarah, it's not Sony Ericsson's fault that you've got an inferiority complex about not having enough pixels.

Oh and I pity anybody who gets anything with an Orange branded firmware on it. My phone is on Orange but was supplied with an unbranded firmware. Must have gotten lucky then.

The phone really is a 90% phone, not a 70% phone in my opinion.

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Happy

Not doing must justice...

Im going to have to agree with Anonymous Coward on this one Sarah.

I work in the mobile industry, and I own a Satio so I speak from experience.

I dont think you must have used the phone for long or you might be harbouring some resentment towards Sony Ericsson perhaps but its clear from your review that your missing some fantastic features on the handset. Also, perhaps you havent used a Sony Ericsson in the past thats the problem?

Eitherway, in regards to the text entry, in my opinion, its superb. Especially as you insist on comparing the phone to the iPhone. Having use both, I find the keypad on the Satio is much better at picking up taps (especially at speed), but more so for accuracy as I find the iPhone's keyboard a bit more cramped. Plus you have the added benefit on changing to alphanumeric keypad at a touch of a button, so I think your marking quite harshly without taking in all the different methods of entry.

As far as the operating system, its a breath of fresh air in comparrison to SE's of old. Using the Symbian software was a surprise after not seeing it on SE's since the UIQ3 days. To the most part its quite stable, Ive only managed to crash mine twice, as that was usually due to my data connections swapping constantly due to my work.

The media player which you have completely omitted by the looks of things is really good. Its the latest edition of SE's media viewer and it does a great job of giving you one touch access to your photos, music and videos (including iPlayer and YouTube). The menus have some funky effects when selecting tracks, or thumbing through your albumns which gives it a polished feel.

I found on the generic versions we sell, the initial theme which is chosen by default is a bit over done and causes the handset to lose a little performance. This theme can be disabled, and changed with a less visually appealling but in my opinion, more functional menu layout on the standby screen.

In essence, the review simply skipped off the surface of this handsets true potential. True, its not as visually appealing or as user friendly (open to opinion) as an iPhone. However, on features like camera quality, call quality and data connectivity the Satio wins hands down.

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FAIL

I don't believe

You type out proper emails even on the iPhone. I have tried that virtual keyboard and even though its one of the best it still can't compare to a proper keyboard that you can use two hands and touch type on. Those keyboards are not good for email no matter which phone you use and you will end up sending emails not much longer than texts anyway.

Those pictures don't look amazing, but they certainly look better than ones taken on other phones that have received higher scores and praise for their cameras, certainly no worse than the iPhone. How is the music playback? This is a strength of other Sony phones and a weakness of the iPhone, yet its not mentioned here.

Your criticisms of the operating system seem to be more your own lack of understanding and unwillingness to accept anything that doesn't have multitouch. That pinch and zoom feature is such a gimmick. It really isn't necessary for zooming and is just there to make the user feel like they have just done something clever with their phone.

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Mat

Why?

12.1 Mega pixels with crappy optics will just mean bigger crappy photos!

Only an idiot would buy a phone based on the camera capabilities!

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Unhappy

Another fail from SE (unfortunately)

I used to love sony erricson phones that I owned - from the T61i onwards, but they have really lost the plot now...

The pixel count is pointless on the thing. It looks fine at lower res, terrible at full res. Sace the storage space and take photos at a reasonable screen resolution - and it will take better quality pictures at the same time (less pixels on the same size sensor).

Give me a 3.5mm jack. I don't care about USB overly, but I want a headphone socket.

Make it thin for pockets, 2cm these days is a brick.

I've not used the keyboard so can't comment, but I have to say the iPhone keyboard is great - and yes you can type full emails on the thing - I do so every morning when checking and replying to my work account on the train. The auto corrects are a must for this to work though.

I wanted to hate the iPhone (I don't like apple) but had to buy one after trying a friends, as it was just so easy to use.

I do prefer the frontal design of the Sony Erricson to the iPhone though - if only they could make the rest to match...

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Anonymous Coward

@Lawrence 7

On of the best camera phones is on the Instinct Dash HD (a Samsung phone). Very good quality. although only 5MP, but you do get 720p 30fps video record.

Only available in US though.

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Cost

T-Mobile have the Satio for "free" on a £35pcm 18 month contract with "unlimited data". Seems a pretty fair price for a phone with what looks to be an excellent camera judging by the pics in the review.

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Stop

battery life?

did the press get a different phone?

the one i have has a 1000ah battery, which if i am lucky lasts a working day.

i really dont think i am alone on this, check the vodafone forums and you will see what i mean.

great phone, shame about the battery.

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I for one like it a lot

I had the old cybershot, and found that more bulky in my pocket than the satio, also my biggest gripe with the cybershot was the poor video capture. The video capture on the satio is very good, which is one main reason I went for it - the other reasons were the flash and a proper sliding lens cover. I don't expect SLR/high end compact quality pics from a device like this, but love the fact I have a half decent camera on me for those oppertune moments.

The software isn't perfect, but I've had no problem with text input, and find the handwriting recognition quite good too. I agree with the above comments, don't get a network knobbled one - mine is from carphone warehouse with the standard SE software. I'm waiting for SE to update their software and add the VOIP cleint software (you can configure it, and register with a SIP server, but not make/receive calls!).

I for one don't mind the SE proprietary connector, oh and I got rid of the proprietary start menu screen/theme as it was a bit over the top and didn't really add any value, a simpler theme does the job perfectly.

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My flatmate just got one of these

And it's broken already. He had it for a grand total of 26 hours before the microphone failed. Am I the only person who wants a phone to last longer than 18months? Can anyone suggest a simple model that isn't going to crap out just after the warrenty period expires, as seems to be the case with most phones.

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printing and pictures

"And how many people routinly print photos from their mobe at 16"x12" at 250DPI?"

I do. And bigger - I've printed images from my SE C905 at 18"x12" and they look awesome. You have to pick the photos worth printing, but that's always the way. Haven't printed from my Satio yet, but I'm sure I will do in the end.

I do know what I'm doing too. That C905 print hangs next to others, taken with my Nikon DSLR, and compares favourably. Most people express amazement that some of my prints were shot on a phone. Yes, a phone is never going to be as good as £1000+ worth of glass and CCD, but it's more than good enough for most photos for most people. It also fits in my pocket, which a kilo of Nikon doesn't.

It's important to remember that all cameras take rubbish photos if you're a rubbish photographer, and any camera can take great photos if you point it right and know how to use it. I've shot brilliant pictures on VGA digicams and sixty-year-old film cameras. 12Mpx just means a lot of pixels. It doesn't mean rubbish photos, or good photos. The optics aren't awesome, but they aren't terrible either. They're the best I've ever seen on a phone, by quite some distance.

Note the GPS on the Satio is awesome. I can even get a lock indoors. It takes less than 15 seconds to lock on in most conditions, and it's highly responsive and as accurate as any I've seen. This is a significant improvement on SE's previous GPS-enabled handsets, the last of which I had could barely manage to find itself in an empty field under a cloudless sky.

My main gripe about the Satio is it's preference for deciding you're holding it horizontally when you're holding it vertically. Can be fixed with a quick shake to generate some more sensor data, but it's still a bit frustrating.

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Silver badge

@Lawrence 7

Unbelievable quality? Yes, but not in the direction you think. The full-size examples here, even in bright sun, seem to have been denoised within an inch of their lives - I've gotten similar results doing fancy photoshop upscaling of 1 megapixel originals. They could have a 800kpixel CCD and a copy of 'Genuine Fractals' in there and the results would be the same - or better, given that the 800kpixel CCD would have rather better low light performance...

Phones on cameras... err, cameras on phones can be fun, but not for doing real pictures. Give me something designed to jump to camera mode and take a pic in about a tenth of a second, so I can record for posterity a passing rice rocket with a rear wing the size of an A380's aileron, and that trades pixel resolution for excellent low light performance, and I'll be happy.

And, yeah, people respond to megapixel numbers - so, marketers, here's your job: Let the engineers design something really useful, like the above, and then use your skills to sell THAT. You want to prove you're the best? Do something difficult instead of just putting a bigger number in your banner ads, and give your customers something they didn't know they wanted!

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Anonymous Coward

Here we go again

Tiny sensor, but 12.1MP. Crappy lens, digital zoom.

So the overpopulated sensor has tiny photdiodes and therefore a terrible SNR. The crappy lens won't even be able to resolve fine detail down to the size of the photodiodes.

So why have they gone for 12.1MP? Well firstly marketing, there are an awful lot of eejits out there who assume the greater the pixel count the better the camera. Secondly because of the digital zoom. Digital zoom is really just a crop, so you need lots of resolution to get any kind of detail when you're zoomed to full "telephoto". So zoomed photos produced at full 12.1MP will be as fuzzy as a very very fuzzy thing.

The trouble is that there are plenty of prats out there who will assume that this phone is a better camera than a lot of competent compacts with proper optical zoom lenses just because this has a higher pixel count.

Indeed it's kind of funny that in the compact camera market the pixel wars seem to have come to an end. Many new cameras have a lower pixel count that their predecessors. But the war still seems to be in full flow in the phone market.

Probably the best image quality you will see from any compact camera comes from the Sigma DP1 and DP2 and that has a huge sensor (APSC size) compared to most compacts, but a very low pixel count. If you count them in same terms as a Bayer sensor then the count is only about 5MP. Compare the images to similarly priced compacts with the usual teeny 1/1.6 inch or smaller sensors and it's not even funny. Never mind the resolution, look for quality. And don't bother with the zoom, use your legs.

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Anonymous Coward

NO chance

Just look at the phone, see how many buttons it has and how ugly it is. It is no where near the elegance of the Iphone. Even if they put 21 Mpixel lens in the phone, no one will buy a phone just for the camera (people use Audio more than camera). Audio is very good but then again Iphone is not bad. They did not come up with a phone to beat Apple and no differentiation from other phones that are mass produced like potatoes.

The thing that attracted me about the IPhone is knowing that my current hardware will still be valid and I will still get OS update for it for the foreseeable future. Unlike Nokia, Ericsson etc... which seem to produce phones every month. Why not concentrate on one v.good hardware, elegant design, speedy and responsive OS and strategy to update regulary (so people are not afraid to invest). For now, only my mum will buy these phones.

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Gold badge

Noise noise noise

Looked at the review pictures, chroma noise in the sky and shade, rather lacking in detail or sharpness.

Only when the images were scaled down to the equivalent of a few megapixels did they look detailed.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

RE; NO chance # By Anonymous Coward

"NO chance #

By Anonymous Coward Posted Sunday 15th November 2009 12:05 GMT

Just look at the phone, see how many buttons it has and how ugly it i"

This is by far the most retarded and hilarious comment here, that's for sure.

How many buttons? :D :D :D Yeah, what SE was thinking! SEVEN BUTTONS TOTAL ON A PHONE!!! OUTRAGEOUS! :D :D :D

Or this:

"The thing that attracted me about the IPhone is knowing that my current hardware will still be valid and I will still get OS update for it for the foreseeable future. Unlike Nokia, Ericsson etc... which seem to produce phones every month. Why not concentrate on one v.good hardware, elegant design, speedy and responsive OS"

Just FYI: Satio has the SAME HW except it's a tad FASTER...

Also Symbian is A REAL MULTITASKING OS unlike YOUR iCrap's SINGLE-TASK-ONLY iPOS...

BTW Ericsson & Nokia has zillions of phones, Apple has ONE - one that lacks several basic functions of a SMARTPHONE.

Man, it was fun.

Random peeks into the kingdom of utter idiots will never cease to entertain me.

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