Sony Ericsson's Satio totes a massive 12MP camera, 16:9 touchscreen and the brains of a Nokia smartphone. What's not to like?
We all know that Sony Ericsson builds the best cameraphones. So when it announced a 12.1MP mobile that runs the Symbian Series 60 OS on a huge, touch-sensitive display, we were more than a little excited.
The bigger the better
12 megapixels may seem like overkill for a cameraphone. But you can't get away from the fact the image quality of the Satio is excellent, and pictures are easily big enough for A4 prints.
Naysayers moaning about the lack of optical zoom can also be silenced: those extra pixels mean you can crop into the final image without worrying about being left with a tiny file.
As usual, a raft of added photo features are included – some more useful than others. Activate smile-detection and the Satio won't just identify faces and focus on them, it'll wait for a goofy grin before it takes a pic.
If that sounds a bit gimmicky, Sony Erisson's tried-and-tested Best Pic technology returns to more practical ground. Turning it on takes a series of shots in rapid succession, so you're more likely to capture that illusive perfect picture.
Location, location, location
One of the benefits of convergence is that the super-smart Satio can record your location on every pic you take. Copy your geotagged snaps to a computer and you can plot them on a map using Picassa, or iPhoto for Mac users.
Naturally you can email, MMS or Bluetooth pics, but it's also easy to upload them to Picasa, Blogger or Facebook. The Satio also includes a TV output so you can show off the fruits of your labour on a big screen, but you'll need to buy the cable first.
Missing in action: 3.5mm jack
There's more to the Satio than photos, though: Sony Ericsson has pitched this handset as a multimedia marvel. Unlike most rivals, its bright 3.5in touchscreen is in the same 16:9 format as a widescreen TV, making it perfect for watching movies.
It also make a pretty good fist of playing music courtesy of the MP3 player and FM radio – all of which makes the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack absolutely mystifying.
And the disappointment of only 128MB onboard memory isn't quite offset by the included 8GB microSD card, either. Call us greedy, but it'd be nice to see an N97-style 32GB built-in, with microSD for expansion purposes.
Where Sony Ericsson has come up trumps, though, is in making S60 version of the Symbian operating system look smarter than Nokia, adding animated transitions into the mix. It's pretty powerful, too, with push email and extra features on offer from the obligatory App Store – a shame, then, that most smartphone functionality is hampered by the lack of text entry options.
Poor text entry
The Satio is genetically very similar to Nokia's N97, but with a better camera and no hardware QWERTY keyboard. Its reliance on touchscreen input would be bearable were it an iPhone-style capacitive screen, but the old-school pressure-sensitive 'resistive' screen means it needs aggressive jabbing to function.
On our prototype sample, anything that required more than a single button press was crippled by the sub-standard virtual keyboard (or equally archaic handwriting recognition). This will improve by launch, but our experience of Nokia's S60 touchscreen phones suggests it'll never be as reactive as an iPhone.
If it's an all-round communicator you're after, something like Samsung's Pixon 12 could well be a better fit: it benefits from a more responsive touchscreen, although its 12MP snaps don't match up to the Sony Ericsson. True shutterbugs, though, need look no further than the Satio.
Sony Ericsson Satio review
It may be the best cameraphone on the market, but poor text input and no 3.5mm jack means the Satio misses out on five stars