Now for the fun stuff: Like a number of Sony Ericsson's other multimedia handsets, the Satio features a Walkman player that isn't particularly flashy but is certainly functional. You can view your music by artist, albums, playlists, track, audiobooks, podcast, and recordings that you made yourself. The player offers basic functions like shuffle, repeat, and on-the-fly playlist creation, but we didn't see any type of equalizer or ways to enhance sound.
Instead, you get some extras like an FM radio, TrackID music recognition service, and PlayNow where you can download music, ringtones, games, and themes/wallpaper for your phone. The video player is also pretty basic and supports MPEG4, WMV, 3GP, and ASF video files. You can transfer media in several methods. When you connect the phone to your PC with the included USB cable, you can select the mass storage option and drag and drop your files. Alternatively, you can install Sony Ericsson's Media Go software. The Satio has about 68MB user-available memory and can accept up to 16GB microSD cards.
The Satio's piece de resistance, however, is its12.1-megapixel camera. It's probably one of, if not the, highest megapixel cameras we've seen on a phone, and it's got a load of editing options to boot. Not only do you get a Xenon and LED flash, 16x digital zoom, and autofocus, you also get five shooting modes, including panorama and BestPic (takes nine pictures in 1 second), face and smile detection, red-eye reduction, exposure settings, and image stabilization, just to name a few. In addition, the Satio's camera can record VGA video at 30 frames per second.
Picture quality was, for the most part, excellent, but a lot depended on the lighting conditions. The flash was actually a little too powerful and blew out indoor shots, and when we turned the flash off, some images came out hazy. The camera handled macro shots well, showing good detail and vibrant colors. We also had better luck shooting outdoors, as those photos had better color quality. Shots varied when taken in darker environments and at night. The flash proved very useful when we snapped photos in a darker room, but it struggled with actual nighttime shots. You can check out our slideshow for some photo samples. Video quality was fantastic.
Though we loved having all the extra editing options, truth be told, we've seen comparable picture quality from phones with lesser cameras, such as the Palm Pre and HTC Evo 4G. Video quality was fantastic, however. The clarity of clips was probably the best we've seen from a camera phone.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSPA 900/2100) Sony Ericsson Satio in New York using AT&T service, and call quality was decent. We could detect a slight hissing sound on our side of the call, but overall, voices sounded rich and clear so we had no problem carrying on with the conversation. Friends reported good things about sound quality. One caller mentioned a slight echo, but otherwise they had no other major complaints. Speakerphone calls were clear, but volume was a bit weak in louder environments, even at the highest level.
AT&T provided reliable 3G coverage here in Manhattan, and browsing speeds were quite good. CNET's full site loaded in just 16 seconds; CNN's and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 6 seconds and 4 seconds, respectively. YouTube videos loaded within a few seconds and played back without interruption, but quality was pretty bad to the point where it wasn't worth watching it. Our own MPEG4 videos played back beautifully, with clear images and synchronized sound.
We were generally impressed with the phone's audio. Despite having to use the uncomfortable earbuds included in the box, songs sounded rich and full with a nice balance of treble and bass. However, like the speakerphone, music played through the phone's speakers sounded a bit underpowered and hollow.
The Satio has a 1,000mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 11 hours (4 hours, 50 minutes over 3G) and standby time of up to 15 days. The handset was only able to give us 4 hours of talk time in our battery drain tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the Satio has a digital SAR rating of 1.56 watts per kilogram.