You can snag the S312 for free on a £15-per-month, 24-month contract. It's also available on a pay-as-you-go deal for around
£50, and can be had SIM-free for around £90.
Mirror, mirror, on
The S312 seems to have been inspired by the Pureness, and, for such an affordable phone, it's pretty good-looking. The silver screen is very shiny, so don't think of investing in the S312 unless you like looking at yourself. All that shininess makes the screen harder to see in bright conditions, but it does make the phone stand out from the crowd.
Unlike the Pureness, the S312 has a full-colour screen underneath the gloss, with a straightforward user interface that won't upset anyone used to using a Sony Ericsson phone. The low resolution and blocky text betrays the phone's price point, however, as does its light weight. There are some fun features present, though, such as jazzy-looking animated screensavers.
The phone will play your MP3s, and there's also an FM radio, but there's no standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so you'll have to make do with the plastic earbuds in the box. You'll also have to invest in a Memory Stick Micro memory card if you want to store more than a few tunes, because the S312 has only 15MB of built-in storage.
A memory card will also come in handy for storing photos and videos when the S312 tempts you to get snapping with its separate dedicated buttons for launching the camera and video modes. We found the 2-megapixel camera refreshingly speedy at grabbing a shot when we pressed the shutter button, but the phone takes a few seconds to write the picture to the memory. The photos themselves are on a par with those of other low-end phones, but the LED photo light does help brighten things up on dark and stormy nights.
The keys on the keypad aren't separated, but they have a satisfyingly clicky feeling, and we had no trouble tapping out numbers and texts.The calls we made came in loud and clear, too. There's even a Web browser but, with no 3G, we wouldn't want to spend too much time surfing the Net. We appreciated that the S312 comes with Opera Mini pre-installed, because it's far superior to the native browser. But it's not the default browser, and it's buried in the applications folder, where it's rather hard to find.
If you like shiny surfaces, want a phone that's light enough to wear as an earring and are operating on a budget, the Sony Ericsson S312 could be a good choice, especially if you've been pining for an Xperia Pureness. A handful of fun features and dedicated buttons for the camera and video modes keep things interesting, but, overall, the S312 is best suited as a second phone for nights out, or as a handset for those who don't care much about phones in the first place.
Edited by Charles Kloet