updated 03:35 pm EDT, Thu May 28, 2009
S Ericsson Aino and Satio
Sony Ericsson today made its push into touchscreen phones official with both a completely new model as well as the finalized version of the Idou. The Aino is the company's first touchscreen slider and hides both a number pad and navigation keys underneath its 3-inch display. It's also the first phone of any kind from Sony Ericsson to integrate tightly with the PlayStation 3 and can use the PSP-born Remote Play feature to listen to music or watch videos from the console when away from home.
An extra feature, Media Home, also syncs content from a PC over the local Wi-Fi network as long as the phone is being charged.
As a high-end phone in Sony Ericsson's overall line, the Aino additionally gets an 8.1-megapixel camera with flash and image stabilization, 3G (including US bands) and assisted GPS. The company has backed away from its at times controversial insistence on Memory Sticks and instead uses microSDHC cards; an 8GB card comes in the box. Sony Ericsson hasn't named the operating system but may be using Symbian.
European and North American versions of the Aino are due to ship sometime in the fall.
The Satio is the now-polished version of the Idou and centers on its 12.1-megapixel camera, the sharpest ever for a cellphone. Besides shooting at a higher resolution, it also has a touch focusing system that centers on the image area tapped by the user. Xenon flash and unique software for dubbing in commentary on photo slideshows also stand out compared to other devices.
Already confirmed as a Symbian phone -- including support for many S60 apps -- the Satio also has clients for Facebook and YouTube. Like the Aino, it has US-ready 3G as well as Wi-Fi and microSDHC storage. Sony Ericsson has since narrowed down the launch window to early fall.
Both phones mark a return to form for Sony Ericsson. It has struggled with rapidly dropping market share and is in enough financial danger to likely require a bailout by one or both of its parent companies. Most observers, including chief Hideki Komiyama, blame the trouble on a confusing lineup that had multiple similar mid-range phones but few if any compelling smartphones. The absence of touch has ceded some of its share to the iPhone as well as feature phones from LG, Samsung and other large phone makers.