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Flashback: Sony Ericsson Satio and a take a look at how far digital camera telephones have come within the final decade


The Satio was Sony Ericsson’s first cellphone with a 12MP digital camera. It very almost turned the primary 12MP cellphone ever, but it surely was overwhelmed by a number of months by rival Pixon12 from Samsung. This can be a rivalry that we’ll revisit in only a bit.

Even when it couldn’t declare the bragging rights of being first, the Satio produced top quality images on the click on of a button. And it had loads of buttons – you’d be forgiven when you mistake the appropriate facet of the cellphone for the highest facet of a point-and-shoot digital camera. The rear was very camera-like as nicely, plus you had a pleasant large display screen with which to border your shot and evaluate your images. Actually, if it wasn’t for the purple and inexperienced buttons on the entrance, this might simply have been a Sony digital digital camera.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson Satio and a look at how far camera phones have come in the last decade

We’ll speak concerning the digital camera in a second, however enable 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 alternative, UIQ, shut down improvement. And it was simply earlier than the corporate adopted Android. Additionally across the identical time got here SE’s flirtation with Home windows Cell.

The seek for the One True Touchscreen OS is an fascinating story that we’ll inform sooner or later. Now let’s take a look at some digital camera samples. The primary one reveals a graffiti rendition of the iPhone, the wrongdoer that brought on Sony Ericsson’s cut up character. The corporate might not have flown at Nokia’s altitude, but it surely was fairly profitable within the period when characteristic telephones dominated. The launch of the iPhone turned the entire business on its head, inflicting the corporate (and others) to scramble in the hunt for a response.


Camera samples: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples: Sony Xperia 1 II

Digicam samples: Sony Ericsson Satio • Sony Xperia 1 II

Again to the picture. The very first thing we seen is simply how slender the lens is – we took a Sony Xperia 1 II alongside to check how a lot Sony’s cellular images has developed prior to now decade. This picture was taken with the primary 24mm digital camera of the fashionable flagship and it has a noticeably wider discipline of view. That is earlier than we even get to the ultrawide-angle digital camera.

Right here’s a comparability between the only digital camera of the Satio, in opposition to the flexibleness provided by the three cameras of the Mark 2 flagship.


Camera samples: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples: Xperia 1 II (wide)
Camera samples: Xperia 1 II (ultra wide)
Camera samples: Xperia 1 II (telephoto)

Digicam samples: Sony Ericsson Satio • Xperia 1 II (vast) • Xperia 1 II (ultrawide) • Xperia 1 II (telephoto)

The rationale 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 by way of picture high quality and basically. These are Sony (Ericsson)’s finest digital camera telephones of the 12 months 2009 and 2020. With all that progress, some issues haven’t modified.


The Sony Ericsson Satio is dwarfed by the Xperia 1 II - phones have turned into giants over the last decade
The Sony Ericsson Satio is dwarfed by the Xperia 1 II - phones have turned into giants over the last decade

The SE Satio is dwarfed by the Xperia 1 II – telephones have was giants during the last decade

You could have seen that each the Satio and the Xperia 1 II shoot at 12MP decision. In actual fact, most smartphones today goal that decision. Even those with excessive megapixel depend sensors are likely to default to pixel binning to 12MP.

Understand 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 screen and 4:3 for its sensor), the digital camera outputs 9MP photos. 12MP is the candy spot between having sufficient decision to zoom in a bit or fill a contemporary 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.


Camera samples: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples: Sony Xperia 1 II
Camera samples: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples: Sony Xperia 1 II
Camera samples: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples: Sony Xperia 1 II
Camera samples: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples: Sony Xperia 1 II

Digicam samples: Sony Ericsson Satio • Sony Xperia 1 II

In its heyday the Sony Ericsson Satio was one among finest cellular digital camera round. In our evaluate we described the picture high quality like this: “the quantity of resolved element is nice and the noise ranges are tolerable”. After all, that was again in 2009, picture sensors and picture processing have developed at a powerful tempo during the last decade.

By trendy eyes we see a good bit of coloration noise, even after the noise discount system smudged up a big portion of the high quality element. The dynamic vary is sort of slender, although the digital camera does nicely to protect the darker areas. Colour rendering is sweet, if a contact oversaturated. Plus, when you zoom out a bit, the images aren’t unhealthy in any respect.

The expertise of utilizing the digital camera additionally reveals 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. Talking of storing photos, we left the workplace with out a microSD – we’ll simply shoot a number of picture samples, we thought, no want for further storage. It’s been some time 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 implies 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 digital camera cellphone.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson Satio and a look at how far camera phones have come in the last decade

Taking pictures with the Sony Ericsson Satio was fairly enjoyable, although. The digital camera is protected by a spring-loaded slider – you push it out of the way in which and the digital camera app launches. It retains the lens free from smudges and scratches. Shut the slider once you’re carried out (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 really camera-centric set of controls too. The 2-stage shutter secret is right here, a Sony staple even in the present day, although this one is surrounded by blue gentle when it’s prepared for motion. There’s a devoted button to change between picture and video mode, a button to open the gallery and the quantity buttons acted as zoom out and in buttons.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson Satio and a look at how far camera phones have come in the last decade

As fundamental because the digital camera app is, it has a number of preset scenes and smile detection. BestPic is spectacular – it takes 9 photographs in fast succession and robotically selects the very best one (although you’ll be able to choose a number of different of the collection). Additionally, there’s a built-in GPS receiver, so the cellphone can geotag the images.

The digital camera is much less spectacular in video mode – the Satio may solely document 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 primary Sony Ericsson cellphone able to 720p HD video recording was the Vivaz, which got here in 2010, however that’s a narrative for one more time.

The cellphone is reasonably thick, particularly the half with the sliding digital camera cowl, but it surely has each xenon flash and an LED flash. Can this outdated timer really rating a victory in opposition to its great-great-great-grandson due to its extra highly effective flash?

Effectively, no. Even again within the day the Satio had one of many 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 last decade outdated sensor and decade outdated picture processing. Lenses, sensors and algorithms have come a protracted, great distance since 2009. The xenon flash nonetheless helped the Satio to get an honest view of a close-by topic, however the background, which is additional away, is all however misplaced.


Camera samples, flash enabled: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples, flash enabled: Sony Xperia 1 II

Digicam samples, flash enabled: Sony Ericsson Satio • Sony Xperia 1 II

Listed below are some extra digital camera samples within the not-so-dark – these have been shot close to giant retail shops with loads of illumination across the property. Nonetheless, 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 fashionable Xperia 1 II does further processing to each produce a greater picture and counteract the handshake (the OIS helped as nicely).


Camera samples, low-light: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples, low-light: Sony Xperia 1 II
Camera samples, low-light: Sony Ericsson Satio
Camera samples, low-light: Sony Xperia 1 II

Digicam samples, low-light: Sony Ericsson Satio • Sony Xperia 1 II

The Satio is a touchscreen cellphone, although removed from Sony Ericsson’s first. In actual fact, the Ericsson R380 had a big 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 will probably 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 screen with 640 x 360 decision (generally referred to as nHD or 1/ninth of 1080p), whereas extra squarish shows have been the norm prior to now. Regardless of 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. Simply touching the show doesn’t do something, you must press on it.

Flashback: Sony Ericsson Satio and a look at how far camera phones have come in the last decade

And Symbian simply wasn’t prepared for a touch-driven interface as we coated in our Nokia 5800 story. You may virtually see the key-based logic behind the interface. In menus, first you tapped to pick out 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 highest or backside fringe of the display screen. This moved the choice from one merchandise to the subsequent, inflicting the checklist to scroll as obligatory. You get used to it, however you’re not a lot 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 connect 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 may have allowed you to plug in your personal headset).

Flashback: Sony Ericsson Satio and a look at how far camera phones have come in the last decade

There’s a microSD slot on the facet – again within the day our evaluate unit got here with an 8GB card and the cellphone may assist as much as 16GB. It was positively obligatory because of the little or no built-in storage.

The GPS receiver is also used for voice-guided navigation due to the Wisepilot app. Nevertheless, there isn’t a method 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 bother getting a lock if you’re too near a tall constructing.

Different options embrace a Flash-capable net browser (although Flash is now as useless as Symbian), a viewer for Workplace paperwork and PDFs and a Walkman-branded music participant. There’s a video participant, but it surely lacks DivX and XviD assist, which is a ache.


Sony Ericsson Satio
Sony Ericsson Satio
Sony Ericsson Satio
Sony Ericsson Satio

Sony Ericsson Satio

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. Nevertheless, the transfer to all-touch telephones compelled all corporations to start out from scratch and gave smaller opponents the possibility to out-compete the established names. And so the Symbian future was misplaced.

It’s simple guilty the clunky Symbian OS for the failure of this cellphone. After all of the digital camera and display screen have been nice if not fairly the very best on the time. Software program points brought on by service customizations additionally added to the woes and will have turned some potential clients away.

Even that apart, the Satio was a succesful digital camera cellphone, but it surely was priced out of attain for some customers and its plasticy construct might have turned off a few of people who may afford it. The Satio was a terrific digital camera however a not so nice cellphone.

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