The Sony Ericsson Spiro is the new Walkman “budget” model—a cheaper companion to the mid-range Zylo. Both phones, part of Sony Ericsson’s attempts to revamp the Walkman range, were announced a couple of months ago, with the Zylo appearing in markets in early September.
The Spiro is available now, and it appears at the same time and in the same price band as two other newly launched “music” phones—Nokia’s X2 and Micromax’s X505. It’s priced at Rs5,600 (compared with the Rs6,000-plus prices of the other two models), sports a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, FM radio functionality and includes the familiar Walkman music player.
Sony Ericsson Spiro
Sadly, the low price is more a consolation than an advantage for the Spiro—it suffers from many minor quibbles and a couple of major problems.
Let’s get the good things out of the way first—it’s a sleek, well-built handset that looks excellent, and the Walkman functionality is rock-solid. It weighs a mere 90g, and charges via a standard mini-USB nub (goodbye, evil unwieldy Sony Ericsson charger!). It has Bluetooth and TrackID, both of which are useful, and a MicroSD slot that’s expandable to 16 GB. The bundled headphones are also passable.
But just how the phone can get so many small things wrong on top of this promising foundation is baffling. The camera, at 3.2 megapixels, makes even bright sunlight look dark and murky. I had to switch on Night Mode even at 3 in the afternoon to make outdoor photos not look like impending apocalypses. The SMS “conversations” features, which represents your SMS exchanges as instant messenger-esque conversation threads, are sluggish to the point of being unusable.
There’s another bizarre bug that randomly claims you’re “out of memory” when you’re not, requiring you to restart the phone. When you’re playing music, it actually skips slightly every time you unlock the phone—an almost unforgivable oversight for a phone that seeks to be your primary music player. The Spiro also suffers from infrequent crashes, and an SMS auto-complete system that’s seems to love gibberish.
Now, a common thing reviews say is that all these problems are software-related, and therefore can be solved with a simple update. So we updated the Spiro software—which was not a pretty process at all. It deleted all data on the phone in spite of promising us it wouldn’t, and did not seem to solve any of the aforementioned problems.
The Spiro’s many annoyances add up to a less-than-impressive package. Its price helps assuage some of these concerns, and there is always the chance that an imminent software update could fix many of these holes. But as it stands now, the Spiro is an underwhelming addition to the venerable Walkman range.