Archive for the ‘Sony Ericsson’ Category

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman performance with Android ICS

August 30, 2012

Sony Ericsson promised that all the 2011 Xperia line along with the Live with Walkman model would get updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

They took their time and the carriers also took an extra time before releasing the firmware to the carrier-locked devices. Recently I was finally able to go through the ICS update process with the Live with Walkman I’ve posted a short hands-on a while ago.

The update process is pretty straight forward as long as you know how to use a computer, since Sony Ericsson (now only Sony without the Ericsson part) demands the user to connect the phone to the PC Companion Windows software or to the Bridge for Mac app in order to get Android 4.0. Apparently the update it too big to be handled as a simple OTA (over the air) update!

Sony also warns on their website that Android 4.0 is heavier than the older 2.x versions and that might have a negative impact on how the smartphone performs.

I’ve installed the official Android 4.0.4 update and ran the Quadrant benchmark to check if the update had any impact on the performance figures.

The score is, as the manufacturer warned, lower than before: 1381 is indeed not as good as the score Android Gingerbread achieved, around eighteen hundred points.

I’ve run the test twice to see if there was any improvement in the second run but, as you can see below, it just got a little bit worst, achieving 1362 points: disappointing!

I also ran the SunSpider web-browser javascript benchmark and fortunately, unlike the Quadrand score, the results improved as you can see below.

Now the test is completed in 3099.8 ms which is better than the old result (3342.7 ms)!

Overall, and despite the bugs and the performance hit, I do recommend updating because newer apps require Android 4.0 ICS to run, like Google’s own Chrome web browser!

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Android vs Girlfriend

August 11, 2012

What is, probably, the most popular feature people use all the time in their mobile phones since the late 90s? SMS!

It’s so popular that nowadays millions of people can send SMS for free in a lot of countries, even with prepaid plans.

It’s those kind of features I always believed it was no secret for phone manufacturers, SMS has been around almost since the beginning of times, or, in my case, since my first mobile phone, a Nokia 8110 that you can see below still writing a SMS!

I’ve been using Android devices since 2010 and there’s one thing I believe most people will agree with: it’s the most complete mobile operating system feature-wise!

The thing is that, although Android can do pretty much everything, some of the basic stuff – like SMS – Android appears to have some trouble doing flawlessly:

  • The first time I heard someone complaining about SMS problems in Android was with a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro: apparently when running out of memory, the phone would stop some essential services and daemons including the SMS one, which meant the phone was unable to receive SMS messages with low memory available. Since this model has a really small amount of internal memory this problem occurred frequently as the user installed a couple of apps. This phone ran Android 1.6 so at the time I thought it was those kinds of youth problems early versions of any software would suffer. It may be related to this bug reported on the public Android bugtracker.
  • My first Android device in 2010 was a Samsung Galaxy 3 (GT-I5800) running Android 2.1. I had to return it in the first month because after a week or so of intensive texting it would eventually stop receiving SMS messages from the contact with who I exchanged most messages. After a factory reset it would start receiving all those pending SMS it wasn’t able to receive before, but after a couple of hundreds of exchanged SMS it would stop receiving them again! A couple of months after returning the phone I stumbled upon some internet forum threads talking about this bug, like this one.
  • The next Android device I had was the Samsung Galaxy S (GT-I9000). Although SMS apparently worked better compared to the Galaxy 3, I used it for more than a year and had a couple of isolated incidents, things like sending the message to the wrong contact despite having selected the correct one, or opening the wrong thread after receiving a new SMS! These bugs were eventually acknowledged by Google and fixed in a subsequent release of the OS. The Galaxy 3 bug was also present but I only noticed it once or twice, it was much less noticeable than before, so there was some improvement!
  • Since late last year there’s another really annoying bug I’ve seen more and more friends and acquaintances complaining about, not only with Samsung phones but also with other manufacturer’s devices, like Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro (running Android 2.3). Android mixes SMS: when you receive longer messages it will join a part of the new text with some part of an older random SMS, resulting in the most weirdest and non-sense texts I’ve ever read. This bug has been reported for quite some time and is still awaiting solution.

The problems, in my experience, usually arise when you text a lot with a specific contact (e.g. your wife), so you might think everything is normal because you can text all the other contacts fine but don’t receive this specific contact messages or receive everything mixed up.

This might not be a severe bug needing urgent attention but is for sure a source of headaches:

  • It’s not funny when your loved one sends you a text asking to pick her up somewhere and you just don’t show up or even answer the text because you’ve never received it in the first place: you will eventually get an angry call from the other not so happy person!
  • If the message comes through mixed with other texts you might get the (wrong) idea that the person you’re texting is either drunk or smoking weed… which may or may not be funny depending on who the other person is!

The funny thing is that, although I hear a lot of people complaining about this kind of problems with SMS in Android and despite some discussion around this on the web, the media did not wrote articles on this, despite having done so when, for instance, Windows Phone had that major problem with some specific SMS disabling the messaging service and shutting down the phone. These Android bugs might seem minor stuff compared, but I’m sure they have affected a lot more people than the Windows Phone one!

In the end, the whole Android SMS system seems to me much worst compared to other mobile platforms. I’ve never ever had a problem with SMS with other non-Android phones, so I don’t really understand how after all these years Google has yet to sort this out!

Android lag

December 30, 2011

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of buzz on the web around the Android lag issue: some Google engineer started the controversy with a post on Google+ and then other devs wrote their own opinion on that.

First of all, I believe that if this subject was discussed widely on the web, it probably means that the problem exists! I want to emphasize this because first I was led to believe by some online forums that it was an issue exclusive to the Galaxy S I had. Apparently this might affect the whole platform and, as a consequence, more or less, every single Android device.

Second, the conclusion I get from all the posts I’ve read is that Android, unlike iOS or Windows Phone, does a lot of different stuff all at the same time instead of focusing on the screen response to the user when the screen is touched. It seems pretty obvious to me that the screen responsiveness is a major thing on a touchscreen device user experience. Google apparently doesn’t share entirely this view with their competitors and believe that, at some point in the future, the hardware will be so powerful that this problem will sort itself out.

In the meantime, I felt curious about everything I’ve read and made a short video where I try to see what’s the approach Google and Apple took on this by playing some CSS animation on both OS stock browsers.

By the way, on a side note, after watching this video I noticed something I didn’t before: recording the video at the same time, on the same place, connected to the exact same wireless network, the iPhone 4S shows a much higher level of signal reception compared to a very poor signal showed by the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman.

Is the iPhone WiFi signal level too optimistic or is the Sony Ericsson antenna really bad?

UMTS / 3G standard video calling (or the lack of it!)

December 8, 2011

One of the new features 3G phones introduced was the front facing camera and the ability to make video calls between them.

As far as I know, this feature was initially a flop: video calling was much more expensive than traditional phone calls which led most consumers away.

In the last couple of years, at least in my country, carriers like Vodafone introduced new prepaid plans that not only allowed free voice calls between phones (using the same plan) but also free video calling (again, between phones with the same prepaid tariff).

I noticed that, thanks to these new prepaid plans a lot of consumers rediscovered video calling and, especially if living away from their loved ones, started to use this feature a lot more often.

At the same time, a lot of people started to dump their old 3G dumb and feature phones and joined the smartphone revolution. Unfortunately most have discovered an inconvenient truth: Most smartphones can’t make the standard good old video calls!

– iOS devices are able to make video calls through data networks (FaceTime) but are not able to make standard 3G video calls.

– Android also do not support natively standard video calling, although is able to do so via Google Talk or Skype.

– Windows Phone just recently started having phones with a front facing camera in the market, but, like Android or iOS, do not support UMTS video calling.

I have to recognize that, apparently, the only manufacturer concerned about this and that’s making an effort to make both Android and Windows Phone smartphones compatible with the old video calling standard is Samsung, as you can see in the video below (made by HDblog)

All other phone manufacturers I had the opportunity to try, such as standard Google Nexus phones (including the Samsung ones), HTC, Sony Ericsson and Apple are not able to do it, which is really a shame, since this was a feature available in older mobile OS such as Symbian or Windows Mobile.

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman hands-on impressions

November 28, 2011

Recently I had the opportunity to try one of the newest and cheapest Android phones from Sony Ericsson, the Live with Walkman.

When I tried it for the first time I had no expectations whatsoever because it’s being sold, as a prepaid cell phone in some European carriers, at a really low price that beats most, if not all, of it’s competitors (mainly Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei).

What took me by surprise is that the phone turns out to be awesome!

I was completely convinced by the good build quality, by the rather nice camera (with 5 MP and 720p video recording) and ultimately by the performance. This low-cost Android handset has exactly the same hardware (SoC, memory, etc.) the more expensive Xperia brothers (such as the Arc and the Neo) have inside but because this hardware (SnapDragon 1GHz CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, 512 MB RAM) only needs to run a smaller (3,2″) and lower resolution display (320×480) the phone actually is as fast (or even faster) when compared to the older brothers.

If you run the Quadrant benchmark, as you can see below, it is able to score between low seventeen hundreds up to 1869, which is a great result for a phone that’s competing near the €100 price point!

I’ve also ran the SunSpider javascript benchmark and the result left me very impressed… again: 3342.7 ms!

Of course perfection is a thing one can always aim at but never achieve and this phone has one thing that keeps it from being perfect: the screen! I’m not complaining about the low resolution (which brings some performance benefits) but the contrast and the color reproduction is not really good (there is no mobile Bravia Engine) and the phone does not adjust the screen brightness automatically, so here you have the phone’s Achilles’ heel!

My conclusion after playing with it a couple of days is that this phone is actually a great bargain, does very well what most Android phones do (regardless of price), and even if the screen isn’t the greatest one around it’s still worth every penny!