The Sony Xperia Miro runs on Google's Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS and, as with other Xperia branded models, Sony has tweaked the user interface a bit and added some of its own apps. For example, the lock screen has a dual function slider. If you slide it from left to right it unlocks the phone, while sliding it from right to left launches the camera app, which is a neat idea.
In the apps menu you can choose to have the apps ordered alphabetically, by the most recently added or by the most often used. Alternatively you can just order them yourself however you want.
There are some neat graphical effects too, such as the way the screen seems to turn off like an old analogue TV with it folding in to a thin strip of white light when you put it into lock mode. We also like the fact that Sony has added a folder of multimedia apps onto the row of default icons along the bottom of the display giving you quick access to the music payer, camera, FM radio and photo album.
The apps Sony has pre-installed on the Sony Xperia Miro include its rather good Walkman music player, along with the Music Unlimited and PlayNow apps for accessing the company's music and gaming stores and OfficeSuite 6 for viewing MS Office documents. Sony has also integrated Twitter and Facebook into the phone's contact book, although this integration doesn’t run nearly as deep as the likes of the People Hub on Windows Phones.
There are some omissions too. For example, while most handsets now have quick switches hidden in the notification pull down menu for turning off and on things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Sony hasn’t bothered to add them here.
Despite the modest processor speed and limited amount of RAM, the Sony Xperia Miro tends to feel pleasingly responsive to use. The menus flip and scroll in a sprightly fashion and apps load reasonably quickly. However, the lack of grunt is noticeable in the browser as it can sometimes be sluggish to render pages, and it finds heavier 3D games demanding to deal with. These observations were borne out in its benchmark results too. In Linpack it managed a score of 18.264 Mflops, while in the Egypt Classic 3D test in GLBenchmark it ran at a fairly pedestrian 25 fps. Its Broswermark score was a bit sluggish at 54462, while in Sunspider it was also a tad slow managing to post a time of 3541.5ms.
The Sony Xperia Miro camera collection sees both front and rear facing cameras line up, ensuring the handset can be used for video calling in apps like Skype. The front facing camera has a low VGA resolution, but the rear facing camera is a proper 5-megapixel snapper. It has both autofocus and an LED flash, however the shots it produces are a bit mixed. On the whole it does tend to capture accurate colours, something which most budget phones struggle with, and at times detail levels can be good. However, in lower light, detail levels drop off significantly and we found the flash tended to be overly harsh.
Call quality was excellent throughout our time with the phone, though, and battery life was also very impressive. We found we could get around a day and a half out of the Sony Xperia Miro before it needed to be topped up with juice, which is better than most Android phones.
The Sony Xperia Miro may be one of Sony's cheaper Android handsets, but unfortunately its low resolution screen and sluggish processor mean that it doesn’t represent very good value for money. The truth is that, despite its strong battery performance and good call quality, you can get handsets that are much better all round performers for similar money from rival manufacturers.