Sony Ericsson U100, codenamed Yari, is one of the few handsets that doesn't belong to a certain class, such as Walkman or Cybershot, but that isn't a low-budget phone either. Its slider form factor, as well as the common look is definitely not putting it in the appealing class phones in terms of design. Thankfully, this is only at a first glance, as the slider really shows potential after playing with it for a few minutes.
The Swedish-Japanese company did a good job, as the ergonomics and the compound used for manufacture have been wisely chosen. Looking at its datasheet, the slider has everything that an advanced user might need, including some entertainment features that we will be talking about later on. Thanks again to PureMobile for offering us the chance to review this handset.
Announced in May 2009, Sony Ericsson Yari hit the shelves in September 2009 and can be bought for approximately 240 USD, depending on location and plan. The slider is available in three colors: Achromatic Black, Cranberry White and Metal Rose.
Yari isn't one of those sliders that will stand out from the crowd. On the contrary, it might pass as a pretty common handset. Still, at a closer look, you will be able to notice that the phone has been built with great care and it has been featured with some cool tweaks, mostly targeting the entertainment side of the device. Starting with the dedicated game keys and the big rounded D-pad that is used to quickly access the music player, all these features make a nice addition in terms of look, but let's see how they will actually perform. Sony Ericsson Yari is a little bit larger than a business card (100 x 48 x 15.7 mm) and weighs around 115g (including battery). These are common numbers, which tag it as a standard slider in terms of size.
The slider features a 2.4-inch display, which is protected by a thin plastic layer. Just above the screen, there's a small secondary videocall camera, as well as two thin white plastic keys, which are supposed to be used ingame. Clicking on any of the two dedicated game keys will open up the Games folder, which can be found deep in the menu tree. Two more keys that look exactly like those game keys only they're longer, have been placed below the screen and can be used as soft keys this time.
The front part of the mobile phone looks like it has been made from two parts, split by two plastic soft keys. The lower part of the slider includes the usual Accept and Reject call keys, the Delete (C) key and a shortcut menu key. The rounded middle D-pad is also made from a white plastic and has a music note imprinted, which denotes its use. The compound covering the front part of the phone looks stylish and shiny, without being a fingerprint magnet. The stripe surrounding the whole phone is made from a mirror-like plastic, which looks appealing, but might peel off after intensive use.
The right side of the slider features a long dual volume key, a dedicated camera key, as well as a small microSD memory card. The proprietary Sony Ericsson port has been placed on the upper left side of the phone. The keypad of the phone seems very well spaced and feels nice to the touch. It has been covered by a very thin rubber-like material. Sadly, the keypad is one of the worse components of the slider. As nice as it looks, it is hard to use. Typing a message is a pain not necessarily because of the lack of responsiveness, but it seems that the keypad hasn't been tested and it looks defective.
The backside part of the slider features a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, but also two stereo speakerphones. While the plastic battery cover feels nice to the touch, I find it at least flimsy.
Display and Camera
Sony Ericsson Yari slider features a TFT screen measuring 2.4 inch, displays 16M colors and supports a 240x320-pixel resolution. The screen is scratch-resistant, and the main screen's contrast and brightness are very good, so you won't have problems when you're outdoors in the sunlight. For more in-depth info regarding performance, check out the benchmarks below.
The 5-megapixel camera is one of the strong points of the slider, as it features lots of goodies such as: autofocus, geo-tagging, face detection, image stabilizer, video light.
Pictures taken with the slider are medium in quality and need some reworking with an editing software. The main reason seems to be the lack of detail on all the pictures, regardless of the light conditions.
The maximum resolution that can be used when taking pictures is 2592 x 1944 pixels. The camera module can record movies in the VGA resolution at 30fps. The quality of the clips is pretty good and they are saved in MP4 format.
The interface of the camera looks standard and user-friendly, nothing new if you have previously owned an SE device. Thanks to the accelerometer, you can easily take pictures in portrait or landscape mode.
Overall, I'd say that Sony Ericsson Yari's camera copes pretty well with the usual trend of the 5-megapixel camera on the market. Even though it hasn't been targeted at those looking for a camera phone, the device is actually very good in that domain.
Menu and Software
Sony Ericsson Yari features the company's proprietary GUI, which has become known over the course of time. There are some updates in terms of device personalization and looks, but basically there's nothing really new. The auto-rotate feature functions flawless with all applications and is very fast. There's also support for Flash Lite 2.0, so users can now take advantage of various animated themes, but also of some other Flash-based entertainment utilities. They get to choose from four different themes, each with its own specific abilities.
The main menu layout can be changed in accordance to the theme, or by choosing one of these options: grid, rotating and single icon. The wallpaper, startup screen and screen saver can also be personalized according to the user’s needs. Also, there are seven profiles to choose from, more specifically Normal, Meeting, In car, Outdoors, Handsfree, Home and Office. Besides these, Yari also includes a Flight mode, in case users don't want to use the GSM function of the handset.
There are a few productivity tools that can be employed, such as Alarms (limited to five), Tasks, Notes, Calendar, Timer, Stopwatch, Calculator, Torch, Voice Transformer, Calendar wallpaper, Facebook, Music Quiz, Pull Face 2, WalkMate and a basic File manager. Besides these, the slider features a dedicated Java YouTube client, which enables users to watch and upload clips. The Internet icon, as the name suggests, gives access to basic Web browsing. Sony Ericsson Yari features the latest Access NetFront HTML browser 3.5, which seems to open any webpage, no matter how elaborated. Webpages open pretty fast, even on an EDGE connection, but for more speed, I suggest using the 3G network when browsing the Internet, as speeds are much better. The auto-rotate feature functions perfectly when surfing the Web.
The Radio only works when the wired earphones are inserted. The Entertainment sub-folder contains a few functions more or less specific to the Walkman-series devices, namely TrackID and Record sound. One of the most important parts of the software seems to be the entertainment side, so don't be surprised to find a separate folder named Games. Inside you will find no less than ten full games (Bowling, FIFA 10, Bubble Town, Guitar Rock, Fitness, Game Carousel, LocoRoco, NitroStreet Racing, Quadrapop, Tennis). Most of the games are gesture-based, but the dedicated game keys are not doing anything during any of these games.
The Gallery can be found through the File manager in the folder called Camera Album, or in the Media center, and can also be accessed through the camera interface menu. I noticed some lag when browsing through the pictures. The Java emulator works with just about any compatible application, like games or productivity software. Let's not forget the new service available from Sony Ericsson, Play Now, which offers maximum entertainment. Overall, SE Yari's user-interface puts quite a number of features and high functionality at one’s disposal, but that doesn't change anything.
The Sony Ericsson Yari slider features the basic connectivity tools, but it has also been gifted with the HSDPA 7.2Mbps technology and HSUPA 1.8 Mbps, which greatly improves data transfers. When benchmarked, the phone attained outstanding speeds: 2519 Kbit/s download and 623 Kbit/s upload in 3.5G network. EDGE data transfers were a little bit lower than expected, but still reached speeds of 170 Kbit/s for download and 62 Kbit/s for upload services.
The handset is also compatible with Bluetooth 2.0 with an A2DP technology and features a USB 2.0 connectivity. Applications like Google Maps have also been included and can be used together with the internal GPS receiver. I have also discovered a dedicated localization software WisePilot Navigator, which is offered for free for only 30 days.
Messaging capabilities have been improved and now offer a wider range of options. All messages share the same Inbox, except for emails, which have a separate one. You can now manage and categorize them the way you want, or you can simply use the pre-installed categories: Business, Favorites, Follow Up, Fun, Holiday, and Important. The email service is fully compatible with the POP3 and SMTP clients.
The quad-band (GSM 850 / 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network-compatible handset has a good GSM signal reception. The sound during phone calls is pretty good, while the vibration is somewhat low in intensity.
Processor and Memory
Yari slider features a medium-power ARM9 family processor that runs at speeds of up to 201 Mhz. The actual menu browsing is pretty snappy, with the exception of Gallery, which is annoyingly slow.
The handset comes with a 60MB internal memory, but features a microSD memory slot card to expand the storage space up to 16 GB. It has been placed on the right side of the phone, which means it is hot-swappable. Moreover, it comes with a 1GB microSD memory card in the sales package.
Sony Ericsson Yari seems to be the perfect music phone and features excellent music sound quality. The slider offers very good music quality, as it features a more compact version of Walkman 3.0 music player and the famous MegaBass equalizer mode, thus making the sound pretty impressive. Besides the earlier mentioned MegaBass mode, users can take advantage of a few more equalizer modes. It supports almost all possible music file formats available on the market: MP3, AAC, AAC+, E-AAC+, WAV, WMA, M4A and MIDI.
Furthermore, the music player is compatible with the Album art function, but it lacks the Shake control feature. The latter would have enabled users to go one track forward or backwards by shaking the phone forward or backwards. Another feature introduced by Sony Ericsson is called SensMe, which enables users to make their playlists according to their mood by simply selecting "Happy" or "Sad." The only drawback of the service is the fact that only the songs that are tagged by Sony Ericsson's Media Manager will be taken into consideration. If one wants to use this feature a lot, one will need to transfer all their files through the Sony Ericsson Media Manager application, which could take a while.
The stereo earphones (MH-300) that are coming in the sales package are more than decent, but do not include a 3.5mm adapter, which means that you won't be able to attach your own headphones in case you're not satisfied with these ones. The slider also includes an FM radio function with RDS, which can memorize up to 20 base stations. The reception and sound are also very good. Both music player and radio can be run in the background.
The integrated video player can run movies in full screen, in landscape or portrait mode, thanks to the accelerometer and also shows subtitles. Overall, Sony Ericsson Yari features excellent sound quality levels and excellent multimedia features at a convenient price.
Sony Ericsson Yari features a 1000 mAh Li-Polymer battery that has an official lifetime of approximately 450 hours (450 hours for 3G) in standby mode and ten hours (four hours and thirty minutes for 3G) in talk-time mode. After using the phone for about a month, I can say that the battery's life is mediocre, as I managed to attain an average of three hours of talk time and around three days in standby mode. While this might be good enough for an average user, I was expecting something much better from such a battery. If you are a heavy user, you'll most likely need to charge it three times per week, but a soft user will have no trouble keeping it going for at least a week. The music playback time is of nearly 25 hours with the display in standby mode.
Even though I have used the phone for about a week, I wasn't too impressed by its feel and performance. While some of its features are pretty nice, Sony Ericsson Yari is not that brilliant slider that I was expecting. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a good music phone, Yari is not going to disappoint you as it's one of the best.
Some of the best features of the phone are multimedia-related, but also regard the connectivity ones (such as HSDPA). I would list here excellent HSDPA functionality, GPS receiver with Google Maps, 5-megapixel camera, excellent audio quality, support for memory card, as well as gesture-based gaming.
The main problem of the phone is definitely the defective keypad, which makes even the dialing process annoying. I've also been disappointed by the fact that the dedicated game keys are not useful during gaming. Two more negative points of the phone are the slow moving gallery and the lack of a document viewer.
Sony Ericsson Yari Handset;
1GB microSD memory card;
1000 mAh Li-Polymer Battery;
Stereo MH-300 headset;