The Sony Ericsson Satio might have just been a concept phone at Mobile World Congress, but it's certainly real now. Available as an unlocked phone through SonyStyle, the Satio is billed as an entertainment phone, and it's certainly got the chops to back that up. The handset boasts a 12.1-megapixel camera and some of the most-advanced editing options we've seen on a camera phone. It's also got a Walkman music player to keep you entertained when you're not busy snapping photos. That said, as much as we loved all the camera options, in the end, we were slightly disappointed by the inconsistent picture quality. Also, we're none too pleased to see that Sony Ericsson chose to forgo a more standard USB connector and headphone jack in favor of its proprietary port. The Satio may be a fine multimedia phone, but it's not necessarily worth $649. You might lose some of those extra camera features, but you can get great results from some of our other favorite camera phones and for much less.
The Sony Ericsson Satio sports a look similar to a number of other touch-screen phones on the market. Rectangular in shape and clad in black with silver accents, the Satio's front side is dominated by the 3.5-inch display with just three small buttons at the bottom (Talk, End, and menu). The camera's protective cover on the back adds a bit of bulk to the handset and prevents it from laying completely flat on a surface. The Satio isn't what we'd call compact, but it's manageable at 4.4 inches tall by 2.2 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and 4.4 ounces.
The Satio has a resistive touch screen rather than capacitive, so it's not as responsive to touch. We had to apply a decent amount of pressure on the screen for it to register our command, so even something as simple as dialing a number or selecting a menu item wasn't always fast or easy. You'll get better results and save some frustration using the included stylus. We just wish the stylus holder was built into the device; instead, you have to attach it to the bottom of the phone via a strap, and when not in use the stylus just dangles there rather awkwardly.
On the brighter side, the Satio's screen is quite bright and sharp, supporting 16.7 million colors and 360x640 pixels. Images looked very nice on the display, and text was easy to read. There's a built-in accelerometer and a portrait and landscape keyboard. You actually get a choice of several keyboards, including a decent-size full QWERTY, an alphanumeric keypad, and even handwriting recognition. All that said, it is hard to view the display under bright sunlight. The screen tends to wash out quite a bit, which made it difficult to frame outdoor shots when using the camera.
The phone's user interface is, for the most part, pretty easy to use. The home screen features toolbars along the top and bottom that let you access apps like the browser, media gallery, dial pad, and messages. When you're working in a media app, however, these toolbars become contextual menus for the specific app. You can access all of the phone's apps by pressing the middle button below the screen, which will bring up a simple grid view menu. The Satio is a Symbian S60-based device, so like a number of Nokia's smartphones, there are some inconsistencies with the UI.
You use the touch screen for most things, but the Satio also has a number of physical controls to help you operate the phone. The right side features a volume rocker, which doubles as zoom buttons for the camera, a media gallery shortcut, a camera mode key (to switch between the camera and camcorder), and a capture button. On the left side, there's a lock switch, a microSD slot, and power/USB/headset connector. Unfortunately, when it comes to the latter, Sony Ericsson chose to go with its proprietary port, so if you want to get any extra chargers or cables, you'll have to make sure it has a compatible connector. It's a pain and we can only hope that the company moves to a more universal standard like Micro-USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack in the future.
The Sony Ericsson Satio comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, an 8GB microSD card, a stylus, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Like many of Sony Ericsson's phones, multimedia is a big focus, but first and foremost, the Satio is a phone and it's a well-equipped one at that. The Satio offers quad-band world roaming and supports the North American UMTS/HSPA 850/1900 bands, so you'll be able to get 3G speeds with an AT&T SIM. (Wi-Fi is also onboard.) The phone book is only limited by the available memory, and the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. The Satio also has a speakerphone, video calling, vibrate mode, stereo Bluetooth, and text and multimedia messaging. Unfortunately, there is no support for voice dialing.
The Satio supports POP3/IMAP e-mail accounts as well as Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (e-mail, contacts, calendar, and tasks) through the DataViz's RoadSync app, which ships on the device. The Symbian 9.4-based handset also comes preloaded with the QuickOffice Suite (for viewing only; you'll have to upgrade to the Premium Edition for editing capabilities), a PDF reader, a Facebook app, a calendar, a notepad, an alarm clock, a unit converter, and a calculator, among other things.
In addition to 3G, the Satio includes Wi-Fi, so you have a choice when it comes to getting online. The phone's Symbian WebKit browser is pretty robust, offering such features as Flash, keyword search, bookmarking, and support for multiple windows. However, it's a little clunky to navigate. You get the option to view Web pages in full screen or in page overview, but the kinetic scrolling experience is choppy, so it hangs a bit when you're trying to navigate to a lower part of the page. Also, though you can double-tap the screen to zoom, there is no pinch-to-zoom support.