A smart companion for fans of music and video
The Xperia Neo is a smartphone that sits towards the middle of Sony Ericsson's range, in price and features.
We have previously looked the Arc and Play models; the Neo is smaller than both but has a similar smart design with a curved back and touch-sensitive screen.
It uses the Android 2.3 operating system and includes a few features added by Sony such as a direct link to BBC iPlayer. It's also possible to access thousands of apps on the Android Market.
Media is where the Neo excels: the 3.7in screen looked great when playing back high-definition video, although it wasn't easy to read in bright sunlight.
There are two cameras: a responsive eight-megapixel one at the back, with a flash, and a more basic forward-facing one for video calls. The camera app only has simple settings and there is no zoom when shooting at the highest resolution, though results for both video and stills were good.
There are only three physical buttons on the front of the handset, along with power, volume and camera shutter buttons down one side. At the top there is a micro-USB socket for charging and connecting to a computer, an HDMI output for watching video on a compatible TV (though no lead is supplied) and a headphone socket.
The supplied headphones double as an aerial for the phone's FM radio. Sound quality was excellent, as expected from a Sony phone.
We found the Neo a joy to use: calls were clear and the touchscreen was responsive and easy to navigate. It felt good in the hand and had a good weight. Battery life was reasonable for a phone with such a large screen and it was quick to charge through the USB lead, which includes a neat mains adapter.
The handset's wireless network reception was not as good as on other phones we have used but when we were within range of our home network router or when we had 3G mobile coverage, downloads were fast and web pages loaded quickly.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo is a good-value smartphone that doesn't skimp on build quality or looks.
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A good-value handset with plenty of features normally limited to more expensive models
Video looked good; camera has a flash; easy to use; smart-looking
Wireless reception could have been better; hard to use in direct sunlight
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