The Sony Xperia Go is designed to replace the Xperia Active as Sony's rugged, outdoorsy smartphone.
Aimed at the more niche sporty, active market, the Xperia Go ventures slightly off from the rest Sony's range, such as the Xperia S, Xperia U and Xperia Tipo.
Available now from O2 and Carphone Warehouse priced at £225 on PAYG and around £20 per month on 24 month contracts, the Xperia Go will be rubbing shoulders with the Motorola Defy Mini (around £160), Defy+ (around £225) and Samsung Galaxy Xcover Extreme (around £225) in the rugged phone market.
As a rugged handset it will come as no surprise that Sony has made the Xperia Go dust and water resistant. The Go carries the IP67 certificate, which means it can be submerged to a depth of up to 1m, in fresh water, for 30 minutes and still happily work.
Coated in a unique hard-plastic material, the handset feels slightly rough in the hand, but not uncomfortable, and the slender 9.8mm frame allows for a decent grip – further enhanced by the textured case, which we expect aids use in wet and muddy situations, especially if you've got gloves on.
We were pleased to see the Xperia Go was packing a dual-core 1GHz Cortex A9 processor, which will provide a decent amount of power, putting it on par with the more mainstream phones in the price range.
The dual-core chip, along with 512MB of RAM, means there's plenty of power to run the Android operating system, which unfortunately is only Gingerbread, although Sony claim that the Ice Cream Sandwich update is done and it's purely down to the networks, who need to push it out to their customers.
Frustration over the operating system aside, the dual-core processor makes mincemeat of Android, allowing us to happily zip through the five home screens on offer, pinch them to see an exploded view of all our widgets and jump in and out of applications without too much fuss.
The 3.5-inch touchscreen was smooth and responsive, as were the three touch buttons below, and although the Xperia Go sports a relatively lowly 320x480 resolution, Sony has stuffed in its Bravia engine technology – which does enhance the display, creating sharper and clearer graphics.
A really neat feature on the Xperia Go is the "wet finger tracking" Sony has implemented on the screen, allowing you to fully use the display even with wet hands.
Anyone who owns a touchscreen phone will know the pain of trying to do anything on it when caught in the rain – but the Xperia Go combats this perfectly and the technology really does work - paint us impressed.
Something to note however, wet finger tracking only works if your fingers or the screen are damp, it does not allow for use when submerged under water.
Seeing as the Sony Xperia Go is yet to get its Ice Cream Sandwich update, the stock Android keyboard is on offer here, which we find to be a little cramped, resulting in us hitting wrong keys a little too often.
Turning the Xperia Go to landscape does improve travel, but we prefer the Sony customised keyboard, which comes as part of the ICS upgrade, something we've witnessed on the Tipo and Xperia Miro.
As the Xperia Go is a water and dust resistant device, the 3.5mm headphone jack on the left and microUSB port on the right of the handset both sport covers to prevent any nastiness getting inside.
These covers were relatively easy to pop off, and plug back in, while providing what felt like a secure and tight fit, which didn't leave us worrying when we dropped the phone in a bowl of water.
As well as the two covered ports, there's a small, metal power/lock key on the top of the handset and a metal volume rocker switch on the right side – both easy to find and hit, even when we were holding the Xperia Go in one hand.
Round the back you'll find a 5MP camera with single LED flash and huge 16x digital zoom, which is capable of recording 720p video, which is certainly a nice touch, although we are expecting to see this as standard on more and more phones these day.
Sony claims than the Xperia Go can capture really good footage underwater, but you'll need to remember to hit record before submerging, as the touchscreen won't respond once it's in the deep.
The camera application offers up an good array of options for the price point, although the Orange San Diego offers more, and at a slightly lower cost.
The camera app, which also doubles are the video recorder, is simple to use and well laid out, with large icons giving a clear indication of what they do.
Auto-focus is at play here (but no tap to focus), and there's a second or two delay once the shutter is pressed while it settles, although this lapse reduced by turning it off.
The Sony Xperia Go also sports a front-facing camera, perfect for video calling or vanity checks, and you can also use it to take pictures and video if you so wish.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Sony may have cut some corners with the Xperia Go, due to its "rugged" tag, but think again because on top of the 8GB of internal storage, there's also a microSD card slot hidden away behind the back plate.
Taking the back cover off isn't the easiest of tasks, and you need some nails to get it going, but considering this is a phone made for activities we're glad to see a solid and firm construction.
Once the back cover has been removed you're greeted with the striking blue innards of the Xperia Go, and access to the SIM card tray and microSD card slot.
The SIM card tray snugly fits into the blue chassis, creating a firm, and watertight, hold around your SIM.
The microSD card slot sports the same style cover as the headphone and microUSB ports on the outside of the Xperia Go, but it's easy to slide a card in and out of the gap.
There's no access to the Xperia Go's 1305mAh battery, as it's sealed away to avoid any water getting to it. This is a little smaller than the cheaper Miro and Tipo, and with a higher powered processor the Go may have trouble lasting all day if heavily used – keep an eye out for our full review for all the details on battery life.
The Sony Xperia Go is an impressively styled and feature packed handset which should do well in the sports and outdoor market, but could very well appeal to those who love music festivals, or are clumsy in nature.
From our short hands on test, the Sony Xperia Go looks like it will give its rugged competition a jolly good run for their money, and we reckon than it could easily stand up in the main stream mobile market as well, with a decent user experience set to be further enhanced by the Ice Cream Sandwich update very soon.