Sony Xperia Go Review
When it comes to navigation on walks I’ve always been a fan of technology to support the traditional map and compass techniques. My first GPS was a Garmin Etrex Summit which did not have full mapping but did accept GPX route files and stated your current location as UK ordnance survey grid reference which you could refer back to on your paper map.
Later I owned a Garmin Dakota 20 which did support digital versions of the paper OS maps. Garmin called them discoverer maps and they were expensive, especially at the 1:25000 explorer scale. If you had already invested in some Memory Map maps or some other format from the likes of Quo, Tracklogs etc then the thought of spending yet more money for the same thing in a different format seemed nuts! The Garmin Dakota 20 was tough, waterproof and took simple AA batteries. It had an interesting feature that allowed you to create your own custom maps by scanning paper maps, calibrating them and then converting them to a format the Garmin could understand. It was time consuming and the quality of the digital map was not as good but it did work!
More time went by. I watched on as Sat-Map Active 10 was released. Decent reviews but again expensive and you needed to buy more expensive maps that you already owned in another format. Then Memory Map finally released GPS hardware in the form of the Adventurer 2800 and later the 3500. It seemed at last you might be able to use your old Memory Map maps but reviews of the GPS devices were not great.
Then with the smartphone explosion it seemed the answer might be on its way. Clever developers were creating apps that could read your old maps. IPhone was the first smartphone but I’ve never been an Apple fan. You could not replace the battery and their obsessive control of their market meant there were no apps that could read my maps. If one did surface like QCT Viewer it was quickly removed.
Google and Android came to the rescue. Smartphones at sensible prices started to appear. I purchased an Orange San Francisco for £100.00 and in combination with a £5.00 app called MM Tracker and 1 spare battery things were great. The only real downside to the San Francisco was that it was not waterproof. A Motorola Defy Plus followed, a waterproof phone that had a lot going for it apart from some buggy internals which resulted in it rebooting all the time after about 11 months of ownership.
And so to today and my Sony Xperia Go review.
Sony Xperia Go Review – What I like
The phone is water and dust resistant to IP67 specification. The screen is scratch resistant and it was the first phone I’ve seen that supports wet finger tracking. This is a great feature as previously rain drops would sometimes cause the screen of my old Motorola Defy to freak out, zoom in and out and generally make it hard to use. It would also not respond to very cold fingers, something that does not seem to be an issue for the Sony.
Sony Xperia Go Review – What I don’t like
Much like the iPhone this Sony has a sealed battery. If it runs low you cannot simply carry a spare and replace it on a hike. It’s not as if they installed a high power battery either, it’s 1350mAh which does not compare well to the Motorola Defy Plus which had a 1700mAh battery. So now I need to carry an external battery pack to boost the battery on longer walks. On my Sony Xperia Go the waterproof cover for the charging socket broke. Replacements are available but the design could be better. Finally the screen on the Sony is only 480 x 320 pixel resolution (165ppi) which does not compare well to the Motorola though in daily use is not a problem.
Sony Xperia Go Review – Summary
It’s not the perfect ‘outdoor’ phone but there are some things to like. If someone released a sub £200.00 sim free waterproof phone with wet finger tracking, swappable battery then I would be a customer. On a side note my favourite hiking app MM Tracker is no longer on the Google Play market following a complaint from Memory Map who released their own ‘much inferior’ app for Android. The Memory Map app is deliberately crippled to not work with older maps. You need to buy a ‘compatibility pack’ to allow you to use older maps which seems like they are trying to charge you twice. Look at the reviews of this app on both Google Play and iTunes and you will see that Memory Map don’t seem to be able to design a simple app. Luckily for Android users you have lots of choice. Alpine Quest will read older Memory Map QCT files and OruxMaps will allow you to download the OS map area you need over your home broadband for later ‘offline’ use.
I hope this Sony Xperia Go review has been helpful. Feel free to leave a comment if you have a question or if you would like to tell our readers about the apps you use when hiking, for any smartphone!