Interface:

Sony is no stranger to making good-looking custom interfaces, and we are quite happy with what we see on the Xperia sola. Pretty widgets, smooth animations, and gently floating live wallpapers make us almost forget that underneath all this eye-candy lies the aging Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread. But worry not as an update to Ice Cream Sandwich is to be released this summer.


The Sony Xperia sola is the first among the company's smartphones to come with “floating touch” technology, which is just a fancy way of saying that the screen can detect your finger even from a distance of a centimeter or so. While surfing the web, this can be used to highlight web links as if you were hovering with your mouse cursor above them. Also, the default wallpaper reacts when your finger is in proximity. As a whole, floating touch is nothing but a gimmick for now, but further uses may be introduced in the future as the API will be made available to developers.

With a display of such size, one might think that the on-screen keyboard would be tricky to use, and boy how wrong would they be! In fact, the stock virtual keyboard is extremely accurate and responsive regardless of what orientation it is being used in, and on top of that, you get an auto-complete bar and on-the-fly typo correction.



Software:

Timescape is a feature that has been present on all recent Xperia smartphones. For those not familiar, it serves as a centralized hub for social network feeds, and as a whole, it can come in handy if you are into social networking. Another useful tool that Sony has thrown in is the Data monitor application, which does exactly what the name implies. In addition, you get Recommender, which aggregates applications that you might like, and also lists what your online friends are watching, playing, or listening to. McAfee Security is what will protect your smartphone against malware.

Processor and memory:

This is one of the few times when we get to see the NovaThor U8500 dual-core chip in action. As implemented in the Sony Xperia sola, it performs quite well and handles most tasks without breaking a sweat. Clocked at 1GHz and paired with 512MB of RAM, it ensures smooth operation under most circumstances. Sure, there is a slight lag when a live wallpaper is applied, but that doesn't really make navigation any less comfortable. 3D games such as Temple Run and Tiki Kart 3D run flawlessly.


Quadrant Standard AnTuTu NenaMark 2
Sony Xperia sola 2294 5415 27,7
Motorola Defy Mini 951 2391 15,6
Samsung Galaxy mini 2 1922 2695 15,5


Casual smartphone users won't run into any storage capacity issues too quickly as 8GB of on-board storage come standard with the Sony Xperia sola. Those who enjoy carrying lots of photos or a bigger portion of their audio collection on their smartphone, however, should consider expanding the smartphone's storage with a microSD card.

Web Browser:

In terms of features, the stock web browser has it all, including text reflow, multiple windows, and Adobe Flash support. However, it doesn't perform well when rendering heavy web pages, and that is a flaw that was not present on any third-party web browsers that we tried.



Connectivity:


As expected, all basic connectivity features are present on the Sony Xperia sola: Wi-Fi b/g/n, 3G at up to 14Mbps on the downlink, Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS, and FM radio. As an added bonus, you get a pair of SmartTags, which take advantage of the smartphone's NFC chip. Gimmick? Not really. In fact, that is a feature that some users might find quite useful. The device can be configured in a way that when a tag is in contact, a number of actions would be performed, such as the change of a setting or the launch of an application.

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