The Satio was Sony Ericsson’s first cellphone with a 12MP camera. It very practically grew to become the first 12MP cellphone ever, but it surely was crushed by a few months by rival Pixon12 from Samsung. This is a rivalry that we are going to revisit in simply a bit.
Even if it couldn’t declare the bragging rights of being first, the Satio produced prime quality images at the click on of a button. And it had loads of buttons – you’d be forgiven in the event you mistake the proper facet of the cellphone for the high facet of a point-and-shoot camera. The rear was very camera-like as properly, plus you had a good huge display with which to border your shot and evaluate your images. Really, if it wasn’t for the purple and inexperienced buttons on the entrance, this might simply have been a Sony digital camera.
We’ll speak about the camera in a second, however permit us to set the scene first. It was a turbulent time for Sony Ericsson – the Satio was its first Symbian cellphone with the S60 fifth version interface (later renamed to Symbian^1). This was after SE’s contact interface of selection, UIQ, shut down growth. And it was simply earlier than the firm adopted Android. Also round the similar time got here SE’s flirtation with Windows Mobile.
The seek for the One True Touchscreen OS is an attention-grabbing story that we are going to inform in the future. Now let’s look at some camera samples. The first one exhibits a graffiti rendition of the iPhone, the wrongdoer that brought on Sony Ericsson’s cut up persona. The firm could not have flown at Nokia’s altitude, but it surely was fairly profitable in the period when function phones dominated. The launch of the iPhone turned the entire business on its head, inflicting the firm (and others) to scramble in search of a response.
Back to the photograph. The very first thing we observed is simply how slender the lens is – we took a Sony Xperia 1 II alongside to check how a lot Sony’s cellular pictures has developed in the previous decade. This photograph was taken with the predominant 24mm camera of the trendy flagship and it has a noticeably wider area of view. This is earlier than we even get to the ultrawide-angle camera.
Here’s a comparability between the single camera of the Satio, in opposition to the flexibility provided by the three cameras of the Mark 2 flagship.
The motive we’re holding each a Satio and an Xperia 1 II is as a result of we wished to see how far alongside smartphones have come in phrases of picture high quality and in basic. These are Sony (Ericsson)’s greatest camera phones of the yr 2009 and 2020. With all that progress, some issues haven’t modified.
You could have observed that each the Satio and the Xperia 1 II shoot at 12MP decision. In reality, most smartphones today goal that decision. Even the ones with excessive megapixel rely sensors are inclined to default to pixel binning to 12MP.
Keep in thoughts that a 1080p TV has solely 2 megapixels or so, a 4K TV goes as much as 8MP. Even accounting for the completely different facet ratios (16:9 for TVs and Satio’s display and 4:3 for its sensor), the camera outputs 9MP pictures. 12MP is the candy spot between having sufficient decision to zoom in a bit or fill a trendy 4K TV and having picture recordsdata which are a manageable measurement. Plus the tiny cellphone optics are actually pushed to their limits already so rising the decision additional brings quickly diminishing returns.
In its heyday the Sony Ericsson Satio was one among greatest cellular camera round. In our review we described the picture high quality like this: “the amount of resolved detail is great and the noise levels are tolerable”. Of course, that was again in 2009, picture sensors and picture processing have developed at a powerful tempo over the last decade.
Through trendy eyes we see a good bit of shade noise, even after the noise discount system smudged up a massive portion of the superb element. The dynamic vary is kind of slender, although the camera does properly to protect the darker areas. Color rendering is nice, if a contact oversaturated. Plus, in the event you zoom out a bit, the images will not be dangerous at all.
The expertise of utilizing the camera additionally exhibits how far we’ve come. The ponderous autofocus of the Satio takes ages in comparison with the lightning quick Xperia AF system. Processing and storing the picture is slower too. Speaking of storing pictures, we left the workplace with out a microSD – we’ll simply shoot a few photograph samples, we thought, no want for additional storage. It’s been a whereas so we had forgotten that the Satio has solely 128 MB of built-in reminiscence, a few of which was reserved for the system. This means the cellphone can match solely 22 photographs at 12 MP. We made it work, however a bit extra storage would have been appreciated on a camera cellphone.
Shooting with the Sony Ericsson Satio was fairly enjoyable, although. The camera is protected by a spring-loaded slider – you push it out of the approach and the camera app launches. It retains the lens free from smudges and scratches. Close the slider once you’re executed (once more having fun with that tactile motion of the spring-loaded mechanism) and the cellphone locks and goes to sleep.
The cellphone has a very camera-centric set of controls too. The two-stage shutter secret’s right here, a Sony staple even at present, although this one is surrounded by blue gentle when it’s prepared for motion. There’s a devoted button to change between photograph and video mode, a button to open the gallery and the quantity buttons acted as zoom in and out buttons.
As primary as the camera app is, it has a number of preset scenes and smile detection. BestPic is spectacular – it takes 9 photographs in fast succession and routinely selects the greatest one (although you may choose a number of different of the sequence). Also, there may be a built-in GPS receiver, so the cellphone can geotag the images.
The camera is much less spectacular in video mode – the Satio might solely report VGA movies (640 x 480 px) at 30 fps. This was expanded to widescreen (WVGA, 864 x 480 px) with an replace, however nonetheless no HD. The first Sony Ericsson cellphone able to 720p HD video recording was the Vivaz, which got here in 2010, however that’s a story for an additional time.
The cellphone is quite thick, particularly the half with the sliding camera cowl, but it surely has each xenon flash and an LED flash. Can this outdated timer truly rating a victory in opposition to its great-great-great-grandson due to its extra highly effective flash?
Well, no. Even again in the day the Satio had one among the weaker xenon flashes and it’s nowhere close to highly effective sufficient to offset the darker lens (f/2.8 vs. f/1.7), the decade outdated sensor and decade outdated picture processing. Lenses, sensors and algorithms have come a lengthy, great distance since 2009. The xenon flash nonetheless helped the Satio to get a respectable view of a close by topic, however the background, which is additional away, is all however misplaced.
Here are some extra camera samples in the not-so-dark – these have been shot close to massive retail shops with loads of illumination round the property. Still, the Sony Ericsson Satio wanted to drop to 1/8 second shutter pace to assemble sufficient gentle. At this pace (and with out fancy algorithms) handshake is seen and smudges the picture. The trendy Xperia 1 II does additional processing to each produce a higher picture and counteract the handshake (the OIS helped as properly).
The Satio is a touchscreen cellphone, although far from Sony Ericsson’s first. In reality, the Ericsson R380 had a massive touchscreen and ran the EPOC OS, the predecessor of Symbian.
The Satio has a 3.5” LCD on the entrance with capacitive contact. Impressively, it may well show 16 million colours – one thing early Android gadgets couldn’t do (e.g. the Xperia X10 was restricted to 65K colours). And it’s a 16:9 display with 640 x 360 decision (generally referred to as nHD or 1/ninth of 1080p), whereas extra squarish shows have been the norm in the previous. Despite its thickness, the entire cellphone feels completely tiny subsequent to the Xperia 1 II.
The resistive contact layer is a ache to make use of with our fingers that are actually used to the responsiveness of capacitive contact. Just touching the show doesn’t do something, you have to press on it.
And Symbian simply wasn’t prepared for a touch-driven interface as we lined in our Nokia 5800 story. You can virtually see the key-based logic behind the interface. In menus, first you tapped to pick an merchandise, then tapoed once more to activate it. Scrolling was awkward too, you both had to make use of the scrollbar on the facet or press, maintain and transfer your finger to the high or backside fringe of the display. This moved the choice from one merchandise to the subsequent, inflicting the listing to scroll as mandatory. You get used to it, however you’re not significantly better off than utilizing a D-pad.
And the proprietary port is inexcusable, even for 2009. You wanted a particular cable to cost this cellphone or to hook up with a pc over USB. Even the headphones want to make use of this port and the retail package deal got here with a one-piece headset (as a substitute of a two-piece that might have allowed you to plug in your personal headset).
There is a microSD slot on the facet – again in the day our evaluate unit got here with an 8GB card and the cellphone might help as much as 16GB. It was undoubtedly mandatory because of the little or no built-in storage.
The GPS receiver is also used for voice-guided navigation due to the Wisepilot app. However, there isn’t any solution to obtain maps and retailer them for offline utilization, which made this a dear affair (knowledge was costing a fairly penny again then). Worse, the GPS wasn’t all that delicate and has hassle getting a lock if you’re too near a tall constructing.
Other options embody a Flash-capable internet browser (although Flash is now as lifeless as Symbian), a viewer for Office paperwork and PDFs and a Walkman-branded music participant. There is a video participant, but it surely lacks DivX and XviD help, which is a ache.
The Sony Ericsson Satio was a view of a future that by no means got here, a future the place Symbian retained its market dominance and Sony and Ericsson by no means cut up. However, the transfer to all-touch phones compelled all firms to start out from scratch and gave smaller opponents the probability to out-compete the established names. And so the Symbian future was misplaced.
It’s simple accountable the clunky Symbian OS for the failure of this cellphone. After all the camera and display have been nice if not fairly the greatest at the time. Software points attributable to service customizations additionally added to the woes and could have turned some potential clients away.
Even that apart, the Satio was a succesful camera cellphone, but it surely was priced out of attain for some shoppers and its plasticy construct could have turned off a few of those who might afford it. The Satio was a nice camera however a not so nice cellphone.