Sony Xperia go Review: The Smartphone You Can't Kill

I'll admit that when Sony announced the Xperia go at IFA this year, I was excited. Sony promised me an indestructible device with a device that would also be cheap and cheerful. This wasn't the case, readers. This wasn't what we were promised.

What Is It?

The Xperia go is a 3.5-inch smartphone that is meant to survive anything you can dole out to it. It's waterproof to one metre for 30 minutes and it's certified to take a beating while remaining dust- and shock-proof.

Inside, it sports a dual-core 1GHz Cortex A9 processor, 512MB of RAM and a 5-megapixel camera.

You can snare the Xperia go on Optus for $30 of your hard-earned per month on a 24-month contract. It's a good thing it's cheap, at least.

What's Good?

First and foremost: the Xperia go does what it says on the tin. It has some of the best waterproofing I've seen on a modern smartphone. Unlike some waterproofing techniques like Liquipel for example, the Xperia go is actually watertight which means you don't have to leave it to dry out after you pull it out of the water.

It also has wet finger tracking, which means if you're using it in a rainstorm or a pool for example, you'll still be able to use it as if your hands were bone dry. The wet finger tracking also means the go is great for fitness. Have to answer a call while you're doing laps? No problem. Poured water over yourself after a workout. Easy done. Hell I even think this thing could survive the Tough Mudder obstacle course. Adding to its fitness credentials, the Xperia go comes with a few built-in fitness apps, which is a very nice touch.

If you're not a fitness freak, though, this phone is great as a party phone. If you go on benders where your phone takes a beating -- we've all been there -- then the Xperia go might be worth considering. You can finally be pushed into a pool or go night swimming with your phone. Party on, Wayne.

What's Bad?

So it does its job as advertised, but once you get hands-on with the Xperia go you realise that not everything is as it should be.

The build quality, for example, is rubbish. The go doesn't have many moving parts, so all you need to do to get it running is essentially throw your SIM card in the device. That involves taking off the back cover to expose the SIM door, followed by a half-hour wrestle with the thing to try and get it sitting right. Heaven forbid you get it wrong the first time, though. You'll jam the door and spend quite a lot of time trying to right it.

Once the SIM is mercifully in, you replace the back cover. Which creaks. Endlessly. Every time you pick up the phone, it squeaks because this thing isn't built very well.

Also, it's running of all things, Android 2.3. Why?! Aren't we staring Android 4.2 in the face now, and Sony can't install the latest software on a handset more than capable? Groan.

Should You Get It?

Unless you're a fitness junkie with a sweating problem or you just want a phone that can stand up to a bit more grief, the Sony Xperia go is probably worth skipping. It's not a phone that I think anyone would want to live with for 24 months, but I can see it being quite a good deal on pre-paid. If Optus were to subsidise the price a little more in future and make it a better deal to purchase outright -- say for $300 -- this would be quite a nice little device. Right now it just doesn't feel like something you'll be happy getting a bill for every month.

If you're desperate for liquid protection on your smartphone but don't want to put up with the Xperia go, try getting something like Liquipel on your phone. We tested it out and it goes alright.


    see's gap in market for durable smart phone
    fills gap with shoddy product

    Considering that you can now get the Motorola Defy for 99 dollars on Telstra now, this seems like less of a bargain.

      Defy has issues with the shoddy design of the back cover as well. I've still yet to see a well built, highly durable smartphone with excellent battery life.

      Any other suggestions ?

      Last edited 29/10/12 6:13 pm

    It has Android 2.3 since that seems to be the only (somewhat) working Android that Sony can dole out.

    I upgraded my Xperia Arc S to Ice Cream Sandwich, and the LED notification stopped working, the phone runs sluggishly, it can't be used as a Wifi Hotspot, and can't be tethered via USB. Have briefly tried Bluetooth tethering, but that didn't seem to work either. Kinda bricks it when my work says I have to use the mobile phone for remote internet connections when working on-site.

    I would like to see a test on this Go though... I destroyed my previous phone by leaving it in my pocket. Unfortunately for me, that pocket went through a washing machine before I took the phone out of said pocket.

      The update on my Xperia P was fine, there was an incremental update a little while ago and it seemed to run a bit cleaner, but overall I've had no complaints.

      That said, f**k Android 2.3.

    I recently bought one of these for a mate who works in a factory and doesn't have a PayPal account (I have no idea why) and it seems really good to me. It is very small but seems quite usable. He is a self-confessed luddite, this is his first smartphone, and I expected no end of calls from him as he tried to figure it out but he had no trouble at all and I haven't had to help him with anything (which is just as well, as I've never owned an Android handset).

    Awesome phone for mums on the run with a baby hanging from each arm. My misses has its predecessor (the Xperia Active) and fark me its taken an absolute beating and still keeps on ticking. I'd be surprised if the Xperia Go doesn't share the same DNA. I hate Sony phones, but I have to give it to them for building an ultra tough, kid proof phone that takes a mofo beating without so much as breaking a into a sweat.

    It's apparently $229 at Mobicity, though the site says "Out of stock".

    If it ran a newer Android and the specs were a little higher, even for a slightly higher price, I'd buy one immediately! Though I've killed two Olympus "water resistant" cameras in the water, so maybe I should steer clear?

    My sister got one of these for her birthday the other day. Pretty sure she said it was only around $300 outright, and she seems pretty happy with it. Don't remember her having any issues setting it up or getting the SIM card in there. The Android version thing doesn't really bother her either, because she doesn't really need the latest version for any reason. Also she came from an Xperia mini or whatever the chunky little slide-out one was, so she's used to it :P

    The thing does feel pretty nice to hold though. Seems fairly light and grips well. Still too big for my tastes though, but I'm living with an old old Nokia candybar.

    I've got an xperia play and same deal android 2.3 is all you get, there tablets are up to 4.1 but not there handsets.

    give me a phone that is waterproof to 20+m and I will be happy :-D

      you need a phone with IP68 - go for the Huawei Ascend G350

    Don't mean to sound rude Luke but when will Giz do a feature about those ultra slim and tough screens ? Think the biggest fault with mobile phones now days is their screens chewing up so much power.

    Something like this, but on a smartphone would be good:

    Plus the available space left over could increase the size of the battery perhaps. Seems to me people want good CPU power, reliable OS's, excellent definition and good battery life in their smartphones, and maybe this would help.

    I've also seen these types of screens hit with a hammer and still work so the thickness of Gorilla Glass needed would be minimal. Think i'll hold off getting a smartphone until they put these screens in them.

    Last edited 29/10/12 6:18 pm

    Xperia go sounds pretty good, small & zippy.
    Unfortunately small display (only 320 x 480 pixels!), Average battery life and no front-facing camera.
    According to Sony, UK owners can upgrade to Android 4.0 now.
    Having owned a rugged Motorola Defy for over a year now I am reluctant to purchase a phone that isn't as tuff, unfortunately apart from the CPU power the Xperia go hasn't improved on enough to get me serious about purchasing.

      I picked up my xperia go for $199 Australian Dollars yesterday. I quite like it. I came from a 4s to this. Yes its not as quick or has such a high pixel rating. Buy its built by sony. I had an xperia ion for a long while. It was epic. :)

    I bought one about 3 months ago. Had no trouble installing sim or micro sd and have never heard a single creak from the phone. Battery lasts about 2 days before totally flat, and although Android 2.3 is old now- its also bug free. It's an easy, light & robust phone to live with.

    Now ships with Android 4.0.x ICS

    I just bought this phone outright (and unlocked) for $297, and it's got Android 4.0. The only thing I'm unhappy with is that it doesn't have a front facing camera, but I suppose I'll get used to taking selfies with the main camera. For someone like me, who just wanted an affordable phone to use as a phone after breaking multiple other phones, it was a great purchase and I do not regret it.

    I bought the Go two months ago and it came with android 2.3. The reason I bought it cause it is waterproof( I have small kids) and shatterproof!!!!! I upgraded it to Icecream sandwich and now it is slow. Also it fell from the dining table and the screen cracked!!! So much for a smartphone you can't kill.

    The Xperia Go has been updated to 4.1 jelly bean. oh and, I dropped this phone on the road when i was going at 37 KM/h on a bike. the only damage that did were tiny dents in the corners.

    The JB update for this phone made it a hell lot faster than the ICS update!

    The plug hole cover things came off in the first week and I dropped it once and now it has a massive chip in the corner and on top of all that it doesn't charge and apparently it's not covered by my warranty. Also the back case creaks a lot and it doesn't have a selfie cam

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