The Sony Ericsson Neo runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which combined with the phone's 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 chipset makes it feel very snappy. It's not a dual core chip so isn't quite on the level of the biggest and best out there but in general use it feels very snappy and on the graphics front it can run all the latest 3D games, such as Guerrilla Bob and Reckless Racing.
We also gave the newly available Android version of Cut The Rope a try and it played wonderfully. In fact, it was noticeably faster than on the iPhone 4 when it came to loading new levels.
Seldom satisfied with leaving well alone, Sony Ericsson has tweaked the interface to make it stand apart somewhat from other Android handsets. The main homescreen view is pretty standard with a central main screen flanked on each side by two further ones that you can fill with whatever widgets, apps and folders you so desire. Running along the bottom, are the standard shortcuts to the App Launcher, Contacts, Dialler, and Messaging apps, joined by the Media folder which gives quick access to the Gallery, Music and FM Radio. You can of course change these to whatever you like though. Swipe down from the top edge and you've got the standard notifications screen. All pretty basic Android stuff, indeed we're used to somewhat more ambitious tweaks from the likes of HTC.
What you do get, though, is an App Launcher split up into side-sliding panels, rather than one long list, and you can choose to have apps ordered alphabetically, by most used, by recently installed, or in an order of your choosing – just drag and drop the apps to where you want. We found it somewhat unnecessary but at least the option is there.
Another addition is TimeScape, which brings together your Twitter and Facebook accounts and integrates them with your contacts. There's also an app that lets you see your friends' updates as one long timeline, with the option to pick out just SMS, Facebook, or Twitter communications. A widget of this timeline is also available. Again, it's a somewhat useful addition but it's not a standout feature.
Otherwise, we're talking about a typical Android phone with all the positives and negatives that entails. The interface is generally easy to use and responsive though is a little busy at times. Customisation options are extensive, though, with you able to add apps, or interface tweaks to your heart's content. The app store is also vast with thousands of little doohickeys on offer, though as ever the quantity of quality apps seems to trail that of the iPhone, and finding the gems is a bit of a chore.
One potential cause for upset is the size of the screen. Even though 3.7in sounds reasonably large, because it's a widescreen aspect, it's taller and narrower than some. As such it can feel a little too narrow for comfortable typing on the onscreen keyboard. This isn't helped by a peculiar keyboard layout whereby the third row of keys is unnecessarily narrow – you can see a sizeable gaps either side of the keys.