Sony Ericsson Spiro review:

Sony Ericsson Spiro

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Typical Price: £40.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

1 stars 22 user reviews

The Good Reassuring construction and design;. Social networking connectivity;. Good music-playback capabilities;. FM Radio;. TrackID music recognition.

The Bad Lack of Wi-Fi;. Small internal memory;. Poor camera.

The Bottom Line At half the price of the Zylo, its Sony Ericsson stablemate, the Spiro makes much more sense -- especially when you take into account the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone socket. If you seek a music-playing phone for less than 50 quid this is definitely worth perusing, although you'll need to forgive the lack of Wi-Fi, unimpressive camera and tiny internal memory.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.5 Overall

After the damp squib that was the Sony Ericsson Zylo, the Swedish-Japanese firm is hoping to capture the hearts of music-loving mobile users with the Spiro. Cheaper and a great deal more cheerful, this pint-sized handset has the looks to impress. Predictably, however, corners have been cut to get it on store shelves at such a reasonable price.

The Spiro is available from £40 on pay as you go, with contract prices starting at £10 a month for a 24-month term where the handset, naturally, comes free of charge.

You'll never walk alone

Even hardcore Sony Ericsson fans will admit the Walkman range isn't the force it once was. A few years ago, when the very notion of a phone playing MP3s was the stuff of a madman's wildest dreams, the firm turned out some desirable and feature-packed phones. But, with the introduction of the iPhone, the playing field has been drastically altered.

No company is more aware of this than Sony Ericsson, and in recent months, the manufacturer has looked to buttress its rapidly diminishing market share by allying itself with Google's Android operating system. That doesn't mean the iconic Walkman brand is dead and buried quite yet. There's a sector of the market that can't afford to commit to expensive smart phone contracts, and it's at this underappreciated audience that Sony Ericsson is aiming their latest handset.

The Spiro is almost disarmingly modest, with a cute design and solid construction. The glossy front picks up finger marks a little too readily, but it does give the phone a sense of style. The matte battery cover provides a contrast, as well as preventing the device from slipping out of your palm during frantic use.

The alphanumeric keypad -- which is revealed by sliding the phone open -- boasts large, tactile buttons and is a joy to use. The low profile of the keys sometimes leads to accidental presses, but on the whole, there's very little to moan about.

With its big, friendly buttons, the Spiro is an old-school mobile lover's dream come true.

Elsewhere on the device, you'll find the standard Sony Ericsson direction pad and button setup, designed with music playback explicitly in mind. The cluster of buttons can feel a little cramped at times, especially when you're navigating the phone's menu system. The volume keys -- which represent the only other physical inputs on the phone -- are positioned on the right-hand side, almost exactly in the middle. This makes them awkward to press when the Spiro is in its 'closed' state, as the required pressure can sometimes cause the phone to slip from your grasp.

Don't go changing

Unlike its Android-packing relations, the Xperia X10 and Xperia X10 Mini, the Spiro uses Sony Ericsson's proprietary operating system. It's an evolution of the same interface the company has been using for nearly a decade, and will be instantly familiar to anyone who has previously cradled a Sony Ericsson device in their palm. Everything is where it should be, and finding your way around isn't problematic.

One of Sony Ericsson's mandates for this device -- along with its sister phone, the Walkman Zylo -- was to successfully fuse music with social networking. The Spiro comes pre-loaded with rudimentary Twitter and Facebook clients, neither of which manages to impress when compared to the apps available on iPhone and Android.

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