If the Satio is the big, brash, headline-grabbing, yet ultimately underwhelming star of the Sony Ericsson show, it's the Aino that plays the more staid and modest yet ultimately more impressive supporting role. In other words, while the Aino doesn't have an awe-inspiring 12.1-megapixel camera or a full touch-screen interface, it does make for a much better handset overall.
The first thing that impresses with the Aino is its build quality. It's back and sides are finished in soft touch plastic that feels nice and doesn't show up fingerprints and scratches half as much as the oft-preferred glossy black. The screen is also very tough so should resist scratches well. Sliding the phone open doesn't reveal any weaknesses either thanks to a sturdy all-metal mechanism. All this strength does result in the phone weighing a fairly hefty 135g, despite relatively slim-line dimensions of 104 x 50 x 15mm, but we think it's a small price to pay.
I also like the buttons that sit below the slide-out mechanism. Despite being quite small and low-profile, they are easy to locate and thanks to a short and sharp action they respond quickly. As a consequence, you're always sure when you've pressed a button or not, which is great for typing speed and accuracy. In fact, the Aino's numpad puts many full QWERTY and touch-screen-enabled rivals to shame.
Moving back to the screen, it's not just its solidity that impresses, it's also great to look at. While its resolution of 432 x 240 pixels is not the highest, it still provides ample room and can show enough detail to make browsing the web and checking email a non-too-laborious task. Moreover, due to very impressive black levels, rich colours, decent brightness, and class-leading viewing angles, it's simply a joy to view. This makes every aspect of using the phone easier and more enjoyable, and obviously lends itself well to watching video, which the phone excels at (though you're required to re-encode your files to a compatible resolution and format as with most handsets).