Particular highlights include the web browser, which also does a great job of rendering complicated web pages, though it's not quite on the same usability level as those found on the best smartphones; and the media interface, which as on most of Sony Ericsson's phones, takes on a PS3 style crossbar arrangement for quick and easy browsing through your extensive music, photo, and video collection. Games are also included in this section but only two come pre-installed, fun though they are. Others can be downloaded through the PlayNow web portal, along with extra apps and music, but only one is free and the rest all seem to be £5, which is a little pricey for such basic apps. A microSD slot sits below the back cover and it supports cards up to 16GB so there should be plenty of room for all your media.
As a messaging device, the Aino is reasonably accomplished with texts grouped in conversations and support for push email. Facebook also comes installed and it's a very nice app to use, though contacts aren't integrated into the phone like on the Palm Pre and INQ range (we don't actually mind this omission too much). Wi-Fi is included to keep your data connection as speedy as possible when at home or work. It's also a quad-band phone so should work throughout most of the world and the latest 3G networks are supported for speedy mobile browsing. Featuring GPS too, this phone ticks all the essential boxes, though you'll struggle to use it as a proper in-car sat-nav. GoogleMaps and WisePilot turn-by-turn navigation are included, but they're really only good for use on foot.
We found the Aino's call quality to be excellent with plentiful volume and clear and crisp audio. Battery life also impressed with it easily lasting three days during our testing.
The Sony Ericsson Aino doesn't have any major headline grabbing features but it certainly makes for a very accomplished slider phone. It's well built, looks elegant, is easy to use, and has a multitude of features including GPS, push email, an 8.1-megapixel camera, and comes with a dock and very nice Bluetooth headset adapter. If you don't want a fully-fledged touchscreen smartphone this is definitely an alternative to consider.