Back when Sony Ericsson first announced the Aspen smart phone, a Windows Mobile 6.5.3, in early February 2010, we wondered whether the QWERTY equipped handset would have enough room to make its mark before Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 by the end of the year. Now, five months later and even closer to the new platform’s debut, the window of opportunity for the Aspen is even smaller. Can this combination touch screen candy bar convince buyers with its green aspirations? Let’s talk about it to find out.
We’re hoping that means build quality will be improved by the time Sony Ericsson boxes and ships the Aspen, as the sales sample provided by Sony Ericsson was not that up to the mark. Sony Ericsson Aspen proved quite creaky and prone to battery door flexing. It’s also unduly tricky to remove the battery itself and access the SIM slot, perhaps not something most users will be doing every day, but frustrating.
Happily if the back half of the Aspen was less than impressive, the front made up for it. Although the 2.4 inch display is a resistive touch screen – complete with a pull out stylus we found ourselves more often than not using the hardware keys to navigate it. The D pad is firm and nicely balanced, as are the main buttons surrounding it, while the QWERTY keyboard is quiet and tactile. Not quite to BlackBerry levels, but better than the slide out keyboards we’ve seen on other recent smart phones.
The display itself is serviceable if not outstanding, offering 320 x 240 resolution and 65K colors. It’s duler in brightness than some other Windows Mobile devices we’ve seen; though Sony Ericsson’s murky choice of default skin doesn’t help.
Connectivity includes dual band UMTS/HSPA (900/2100) and quad band GSM/EDGE, though Sony Ericsson are also prepping a triband 850/ 900/ 2100 UMTS/HSPA version for North America. There’s also Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth and a micro USB port, together with a microSD slot (cards up to 16 GB supported) and A-GPS. A 3.5mm headphone socket will work either with Sony Ericsson’s bundled headset or your own, though A2DP support means you can use Bluetooth headphones instead.
The Aspen’s 3.15 mega pixel camera lacks auto focus or a flash, and while the later doesn’t particularly disappoint us. The resolution is 2048 x 1536 pixels, geo tagging and smart contrast but there is no secondary camera.
Operating system as discussed is Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Professional and the Processor is 600 MHz ARM 11 processor, Adreno 200 GPU, Qualcomm MSM 7227 chipset.