Sony Xperia go Review

Introduction and Design
The Sony Xperia go will be sold in Europe and Asia. The same model will be sold in the Unites States as the Sony Xperia advance.


Rugged phones have been around since time immemorial, but they have always been designed for a specific audience. Because of that, they are predominantly niche products, which, in most cases, are hard to look at, but can stand the forces of nature in a way that other handsets can't.

Well, it seems that Sony is trying to change that with its Xperia go, which is a new rugged model that tries to remain slim and attractive. To a certain extent, the company has achieved its goal, but there are some elements that ultimately hold the phone back. Read on to learn why we think the Sony Xperia go is a good, but not great phone...


The physical design of the Sony Xperia go is among its strongest, and weakest aspects at the same time.

To start off, the phone looks good. It's quite slim, it's relatively compact, and overall, there isn't anything ugly about it, which is a huge plus in today's phone market. It's also quite reminiscent of the Xperia sola (another mid-range handset by Sony), which is a good thing.

You can compare the Sony Xperia go with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

However (you knew this part is coming, didn't you?), the plastic that Sony has used for the casing of the phone is... well, it's unpleasant to the touch at best, and disgusting at worst – it depends on your taste. It's an incredibly crude piece of plastic, which gives the phone a very cheap feel. It would have been tons better if Sony had simply gone for the standard, glossy finish, but no, they had to make you regret that you've bought this phone every time you hold it in your hand.

Anyway, there are much worse things in life, so we'll just accept it as it is and move on. The Xperia go is a rugged device, but it's also a smartphone, so it needs to have a sizable screen. That's why Sony has equipped it with a 3.5” panel with a resolution of 320x480. The pixel density isn't sky-high, but at 165 ppi, small text still doesn't look terribly jagged. It's light-years away from the beauty of an HD screen, though. Viewing angles are so-so, which means they are OK for a mid-end device, while outdoor visibility is on par with most other smartphones out there. The Sony Xperia go is equipped with a scratch-resistant glass, which is in line with its rugged status.

Speaking of ruggedness, we should point out that the Xperia go isn't rugged in the traditional sense of the world. It only features water and dust protection, which should be enough in most cases. The go is IP67 certified, meaning that it's completely dust-proof, and you can submerge it under up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. The covers of the microUSB port and 3.5mm headset jack isolate the components tightly, but are easy to remove. The SIM card and microSD card compartments, situated under the back cover, as also well-sealed.

Interface and Functionality:

The Sony Xperia go is an Android 2.3-running phone with the manufacturer's own custom interface on top. We've always liked Sony's UI, so we're perfectly fine with it being preloaded here as well. It looks good and is relatively simple to use, at least in comparison with other manufacturers' UIs.

Most of the built-in apps are re-skinned so that they fit the overall theme of the interface, but their functionality hasn't been changed much. Probably the biggest software alteration is found with Timescape and the widgets associated with it. For those unfamiliar with Timescape, it's an app that aggregates new updates and communication from Facebook, Twitter and your phone. You can install extensions for Timescape in order to add additional services like Foursquare, YouTube, Picasa, Gmail and so on. All in all, we like the concept of Timescape and how seamlessly it works, but the interface isn't really optimized. It can be much easier to swipe through your updates than the way it's been implemented in Timescape.


By default, the portrait keyboard of the Xperia go is s traditional T9 one, and that's for a reason. If you opt to use the QWERTY portrait keyboard, you'll have to deal with its cramped design. Naturally, the landscape option is much more comfortable to use, though you shouldn't expect any wonders.


Since the Sony Xperia go is a Gingerbread device, the stock web browser doesn't perform too well, as it's somewhat laggy. That's easy to fix, though, since you can install a more capable third-party browser like Opera or Firefox. In most cases, the 3.5” display is big enough to deliver a satisfying browsing experience, and the resolution isn't so terrible, but of course – be prepared for a lot of zooming action.

The Xperia go features a 1GHz dual-core processor, so Flash Player is supported, providing full compatibility with almost all sites.

In case Wi-Fi isn't present, you can use the device's built-in HSPA radio, which supports 14.4 Mbit/s on the downlink, and 5.76 Mbit/s on the uplink.

Processor and Memory:

The Xperia go may not be a top-shelf device, but that doesn't mean that it's specs are weak. As we mentioned earlier, the go packs a 1GHz dual-core processor – an ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500, to be precise, which does well in keeping the interface responsive. The 512MB of RAM also seem to be sufficient for Gingerbread's relatively smooth operation.

Thankfully, Sony has supplied the Xperia go with 4GB of internal storage, but there's no need to stop there, as you can also install a microSD card of up to 32 GB.


The 5MP camera of the Xperia go features some useful options like scene modes, focusing modes, exposure and so on and so forth. However, we didn't have really big expectations about this camera, and it turned out we were right not to have such.

Details could be a lot better, bright areas tend to get overexposed, and colors tend to be a bit on the warmer side – that pretty much sums up the problems of the camera. But all in all, it takes passable photos. We've seen much worse results, so overall, the pictures are good enough for a phone of this class.

Video can be recorded at a maximum resolution of 720p. It's mostly smooth, although there's the occasional stutter every now and then, but not more than what you'd get from most competing handsets. We were nicely surprised by the good looking video, and the mic of the phone captures some really good audio.

Sony Xperia go Sample Video:

Sony Xperia go Indoor Sample Video:


Of course, thanks to its dual-core CPU, the Xperia go doesn't have problems playing whatever video you throw at it, which is always good to know.

The stock music player is simple, yet elegant, and features the xLOUD option as well as a number of EQ presets and a custom setting. It all looks and sounds good, although we weren't blown away by the speaker.

Call quality:

The Sony Xperia go is a fine device for voice calls. Unfortunately, the earpiece is a bit weak, so you may have a bit of a trouble hearing your callers if you happen to be in a noisy place, but overall the sound is pleasing. The microphone of the device is once again the star of the show, as it manages to transmit your voice with some very good loudness and clarity, which is also thanks to the noise-cancellation feature.

The battery life of the Xperia go is nothing to write home about. The device should be able to deliver up to 5.50 hours of talk-time and 19.2 days of stand-by time while connected to a 3G network.


The Sony Xperia go is an average device no matter how you look at it. It has a pretty good processor for its class, and we can live with the low-resolution screen, but the unpleasant plastic casing may ruin the experience for you. Still, it'll be best if you can try the phone out first prior to purchase, to see if you can live with it.

Other than that, and its Gingerbread nature, the Xperia go is a pretty decent mid-range handset, which will come in handy for those who often have to use their mobile device in conditions that involve risks of water or dust contact. In those cases, the Xperia go will surely be appreciated.

Software version of the reviewed unit: Android 2.3.7, Build 6.0.B.3.162

Sony Xperia go Review:


  • Water- and dust-resistant
  • 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Good HD video capture


  • Very cheap-feeling plastic build
  • Low-resolution screen

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