Hi there, sorry I’m late but things have been a little crazy over the past few weeks. I’ve recently just got back from a holiday in Mallorca and I’m currently a bit burnt. Today I’ve got a review of a rather handy holiday friendly handset, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active. OK so I did a mini review when I told you about my plans to get slimmer for Summer (more on that another day) but I took the Active with me on holiday and I’m very glad I did.
Let’s get the boring bit out of the way first. It’s a pretty standard spec 2011 Sony Ericsson handset sporting the same spec as most of the 2011 range. It sports a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 512MB RAM, as well as 1GB internal storage, of which around 350mb is user data. It features a 5MP camera with auto focus and up to 8x digital zoom. It’s a pretty small handset with only a 3 inch TFT screen with mobile Bravia engine at 320×480 resolution and features "wet finger tracking" and a scratch resistant capacitive touch screen. It runs on good old faithful 2.3 Gingerbread although the 4.0 ice-cream sandwich update is due any minute. It claims to be dust and water resistant up to 10 meters for 30 minutes. It has the standard Wi-Fi, bluetooth and also features ANT+ so you can pair it with various sporting monitors such as heart rate monitors, stride sensors and other compatible gym equipment. It’s a sportsman’s best friend. Boring bit done, here’s my experience.
The Xperia active was a prize I won from a twitter competition a few months ago, and I initially didn’t think anything of it, it’s just a typical 2011 Sony Ericsson handset, they all have the same specs so compared to the Xperia Play it was a bit meh, and as such I didn’t develop any attachment to it. So when it came to holiday time, I took it with me to use as a camera while I left my precious Play at home to avoid any possible damage. I didn’t care if I damaged the Active, it was mostly used as an MP3 player to keep my Play battery topped up. So I took the Active out on my holiday. What’s the one thing that almost guaranteed when in a very hot foreign country only a 5 minute walk from the beach? Swimming. I thought to myself "Hey, this thing is supposed to be water resistant, I’ll take a few pics of the kids swimming. Who cares if I drop it, it’ll be fine"… I wasn’t wrong either. The 5MP snapper has already received comments from friends who watched my YouTube videos saying it looks very clear and crisp , so I knew the camera was going to be good for pictures. We all went for a swim, and I had the Active in my pocket (quick pause here, I would not recommend doing this with your phone regardless of how resistant it is. Salt water is very corrosive and if it gets into your handset it could cause serious problems. Don’t try this at home unless you’re willing to pay for a repair or replacement). I removed the phone a few times to take a few pictures. The Wet finger tracking on the phone worked a treat, the phone was completely soaked, my hands were like prunes and I was nowhere near a towel, but still i was able to unlock the phone and navigate to the camera as if i was sat at my desk (I forgot the phone has a dedicated camera button… silly me). Seconds later I had a few snaps of the kids so I just locked it and stuffed it back in my pocket. Back on the beach I checked the shots and again was very pleased to see the wet finger tracking working its magic. I’ll be honest the screen is a little fiddly when wet. If there is any water on the 3 navigation buttons, you’re going to have problems but a quick wipe to remove the water drops and you’re good to go. Also if you’re using the phone when it enters water, the phone usually goes back to the home screen, I’m guessing this is because the navigation buttons are not part of the main digitizer and are on their own sensors instead much like the Samsung Galaxy S.
So, beach pictures in the bag and phone still working as if nothing happened to it, we continued with regular holiday activities such as bike rides and more swimming. I dropped the phone a few times on a brick walkway and the phone didn’t even have a scratch on it. Water resistant and very robust. They chose the Active name well, as this phone is certainly the ideal partner for anybody with an active lifestyle.
Back at the hotel and impressed with the performance of the phone at the beach i decided to see if it was any good under water. Sure it works fine after a swim and used out of water, but what would happen if I tried to take pictures under water? I’ll show you.
Not bad for a fairly cheap handset I’d say. Sadly video didn’t work out too well as i couldn’t use the actual touch screen under water, so was unable to switch it from camera to video, and when I tried to start the video then drop it in water, the phone returned to the home screen as mentioned above.
Again, after all the wet activities I decided to do something normal and listen to music. The audio was still as crisp and clear as it always was and there was no indication it had ever been near water. I’m a phone technician by trade so know when a phone has moisture damage without opening the cover just by the various tell tale signs such as low quality tinny audio. Perfect. Almost as if i bought it that day. For a phone that costs less than 200 quid I’m very impressed.
I’ll be honest when i say this. I personally wouldn’t use the phone for day to day use, I find the screen just too small and the keyboard very clumsy with my larger than average thumbs, but I would most certainly recommend this phone to anybody that asks. I’ve gone from not really caring if I break it, to hoping i never lose it. It has proven itself to be very handy in a tight spot, full of entertaining features and can handle just about anything you can throw at it, or throw it at. For me, I’d rate it 8/10, purely because I find it too small for my liking, but if size wasn’t an issue it would get 9/10. The only way I can see this phone improving is if it had larger internal memory. You won’t be able to buy the Xperia Active on the high street as it was an online exclusive, but you can pick it up from all the usual places such as Amazon, Expansys and of course, Sony mobile directly, and it will set you back roughly 200 of the Queen’s British pounds. Shop around a little and you can probably get hold of the sports bundle which comes with the handset itself, an armband and Liveview watch. The Xperia Active when used with Sportypal Pro and a heart rate monitor is amazing. You get the tracking capabilities of Sportypal Pro combined with the various sensors you have equipped all displayed on the Liveview strapped to your wrist. Of course if you have a little more money you can upgrade to the Smartwatch and get the same benefits with Endomondo. I’ll be reviewing both of these apps at a later date.
100 Push up challenge.
OK, here’s the update a few weeks late. So far I’ve just finished week 4 and I’m about to start week 5 of my 6 week challenge. The last week has been really hard and I’ve found myself struggling to meet the targets and have usually ended about 10 below the daily requirement. Ask anybody you know, doing 140+ press ups in a short time period isn’t easy. Rest assured I’m soldiering on and doing the best I can. I have great support from Craig, Ross and others in the community helping to promote my challenge, Currently with your help we’ve raised just over a hundred pounds for cancer research, but I think we can do better. If you have even just a bit of spare cash in your bank going nowhere, please donate it to Cancer Research UK. Your donation could literally save a life. More details on the Just Giving page http://justgiving.com/chris-lod
A huge thank you goes out to all that have donated already, and I find it somewhat pleasing I’ve managed to personally thank every donator so far. If you’re about to donate, please add your Twitter username or email in a message on the Just Giving page. I have a small gift for a random donator once my challenge is complete. If we raise over 250 I’ll be throwing in the Xperia Active I’ve just reviewed for a random donator. One more small twist to my challenge….If I fail, I’m letting Craig give me a hair cut.