The Sony Ericsson has trimmed the fat with its Xperia Pureness and made a phone that doesn't have room for any extras, just a sleek-looking, simple handset that’s great for a night out. You could get a lot more phone for the money, but if you want something that stands out it's a uniquely stylish option.
The Pureness is only available SIM-free at Selfridges in Manchester, Birmingham and London for £650.
The naked phone
The Pureness's designers claim that they started from scratch for this phone, and you may think that they forgot something -- there's no back to the screen, and no colour either. Instead, the screen is a 43mm (1.8-inch) see-through glass panel where the user interface appears in frosted white like steam on a bathroom mirror. You can't type anything too controversial because, thanks to the transparent screen, anyone looking at the phone from the back will be able to read your texts and the numbers you dial.
The translucent screen is an interesting novelty, but we found that it wasn't that easy to read in nright light. It is illuminated with LEDs around the edges, so it gets clearer as the room gets darker, making it an option for an evening out.
The keyboard is equally obscure, showing as a blank, black surface until the back-lit LED numbers appear when you press a key. Overall, the stealthy keyboard and see-through screen make the Pureness look elegant, and you may get some oohs and aahs when you whip it out over champagne cocktails. But the few advanced features, like Web browsing, are almost useless because of the lack of a sharp, colour display. There's no camera either.
Basics on board
If you don't care much about anything except making and receiving calls, you’re in luck. Despite its low profile, the Pureness's keypad is easy to press and calls came through loud and clear in our tests.
The rest of the basics are all in place, if you can see them -- text messages are simple to type and send with a familiar T9 predictive text dictionary, for example. There's even a music player so that you can catch a few tunes on your night out, and there's a microSD card slot to add more memory. The music player can show your songs' cover art, but like the Web browser, it doesn't look like much on the monochromatic screen.
Call for help
The Pureness hopes to tempt the fashionistas by including a year's subscription to the Quintessentially concierge service -- also a feature on the even pricier Nokia Vertu -- which will book your theatre tickets and call you a cab, among other rich-person perks. The service is free for the first year, after which an annual £750 fee kicks in. If you want the Quintessentially service, then buying the Pureness is a cheaper way of getting it, as the price of the phone is £100 cheaper than a year's subscription. Plus, you'll nab a funky, compact phone to pop in your pocket when you don’t want to drag around your giant smart phone. The Pureness has an easy-access SIM card slot so switching is lightening fast.
With no colour screen and no advanced features, it’s no surprise that the Pureness’s battery goes all night and then makes you breakfast. We had no trouble getting multiple days out of the Pureness under normal use.
If you’ve got £650 burning a hole in your pocket and you’re looking for a light, stylish party phone, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pureness has the wow factor you may be looking for. For anyone else, the obscure see-though screen and lack of features mean that it doesn’t stack up to most budget phones.