Seems like a great budget Android phone with a slightly larger screen than the Xperia Mini pro but without a keyboard to make it more svelte. Seems to share all the same common good specifications for a budget phone but a slightly larger screen and slightly cheaper at B$350.
320 x 480 pixels, 3.2″ capacitive screen
320MB for applications
5 megapixel camera w/ 720p video
Front facing VGA camera
xLOUD™ loudness enhancement makes it possible to listen loud without distortion.
We managed to get our hands on the HTC Flyer at Yappe Computer, Serusop, and it seems like a good 7″ Android Tablet: an alternative to the older Galaxy Tab. It’s selling for B$859 (cash price) / B$886 (credit card price) for the 32GB model.
works in apps that support it otherwise touching the screen takes a screenshot that you can annotate
cannot be used to ‘touch’ all controls / buttons only digitizer palette brought up by touching the icon with the digitizer (not your finger)
requires a single AAAA (yes 4 As) battery which I have not seen in shops
has 2 buttons: 1 highlights text, other erases
Bundled HTC Apps
Notes application syncs to Evernote and allows infinite vertical scrolling. Allows text input, photo embedding, handwriting annotation as well as voice dictation
Reader application is a reading app linked with Kobo for in app purchasing
Watch application allows renting and buying of movies (but doesn’t seem available in Brunei, thus can only watch previews/trailers)
While it is a 7″ Gingerbread (2.3) tablet instead of Honeycomb (3.x, which is the tablet optimized version of Android) it seems to be the better choice at the moment as apps will run on it with the only issue may be the way it looks. Currently is only one 7″ Honeycomb tablet: the Acer Iconia Tab A100 and it was released yesterday. It is the first device to have Android 3.2 which is supposed to provide better support for 7″ tablets compared to the regular bigger 10″ Honeycomb tablets. However there seem to be some force close issues and app incompatibilities reported by This Is My Next and ZDnet (i.e. more work for the developer to fix problems).
On the entertainment side it supports 720p video playback, supports quite a few file formats and codecs but there is no HDMI output unless you get the dock to use with the extended microUSB connector on the flyer. The HTC Watch app is a nice feature but not being available here makes it of no use. For office use, there is support for Microsoft Office documents that allows editing with normal text entry and even the stylus (however, not all file formats are editable). Battery life seems a bit mixed with the Engadget review being impressed by it while TechRadar and CNET UK rated it has having bad battery life. BGR and Android Central give it decent battery life with typical use of 2 days per charge.
While I wished they didn’t remove the calling ability of the device, the usability of the pen to annotate and take notes is pretty appealing. A good alternative to the Galaxy Tab if you don’t plan to use it for calling. Smaller and more portable than an iPad it is made more for mobility. The main reason to get this device is the active digitizer and stylus combo or if you just wish for a tablet faster than the Galaxy Tab whose age is showing. Nice to see HTC innovate with the Flyer and hope to see more with the upcoming Puccini, their shot at the 10″ tablet category.
This phone seems to be a phone I would buy, if I didn’t buy my LG Optimus One, as a great budget Android phone which seems to have the least compromises. Check out the video that I managed to get at Incomm as I played with the device.
Android 2.3 Gingerbread: the current major version of Android of phones
3" HVGA (320×480) screen: a bit small in size but good resolution that is widely supported by all apps
Slide out landscape QWERTY keyboard
1GHz Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 205 GPU
400MB for apps (according to GSM Arena): a bit small but acceptable for a budget phone and sadly (for Arc users) it is the same amount as the Arc based on Sony’s specs which says up to 320MB (Arc vs Mini Pro)
5MP rear camera with autofocus, flash and 720p video recording (auto focus while recording video, recorded in mp4 encoded with h264, aac)
VGA front facing camera for video calls
Supports Adobe Flash
Plays 720p videos (mp4 encoded with h264,aac)
Can open PDFs and Microsoft Office documents (doc,docs,xls,xlsx,ppt,pptx)
I really like that this budget phone seems to have practically no compromises for a budget phone: there doesn’t seem to be any major show stoppers. Most budget phones will have no front facing cameras and won’t have cameras that can record 720p. A budget phone won’t have a keyboard nor a 1GHz CPU. The CPU couple with a GPU and sufficient RAM should ensure this device is smooth and usable for the regular user.
The main issue is the small 3" size of the screen (iPhone: 3.5", Optimus One & Wildfire S: 3.2", Galaxy Mini: 3.14"): a small size coupled with a high resolution may make some text small to read and will make using the onscreen keyboard a bit difficult. Thankfully there is a physical keyboard on the Xperia Mini that should help alleviate this (as long as the keyboard is good and usable). Also the smaller 1200mAh battery (vs 1500mAh of the Optimus One) may give it less battery life, but that also depends on the amount of work being done: with a better CPU, the same amount of work may require less energy from the Xperia Mini. I guess we’ll just have to wait for more in-depth reviews with battery life scores and this is the main unknown factor at the moment. Another compromise would possible be the UMTS frequency band support with it only being dual (900/2100) or triband (800/1900/2100) depending on where it is purchased but I don’t think this will affect many. Most of these issues/compromises are acceptable for a budget device.
With that said, I think I could tentatively highly recommend this phone to users but only after they take a look at it and try to use the keyboard and check to see if the text is too small on the device; and also after some battery life tests are published – all the features are of no use if the battery life is bad. From my use with it, the screen and text size seem fine but my fat thumbs did have a bit of an issue with typing. It could play 720p video, Flash video and even edit office documents. Overall a snappy device and I’m just very impressed at what Sony Ericsson managed to pack on this device hitting all the right check boxes giving the user minimal compromises. Great job Sony Ericsson, now improve your higher end devices!
Sample Photos (note front camera was covered with a thin plastic film):