The Sony Ericsson Yari promises to be a rock 'em, sock 'em gaming handset that turns your body into a joystick and your phone into a Nintendo Wii. We'd rather not use the Yari's goofy motion-controlled gaming features, but there are plenty of other on-board treats to tempt us.
The Yari is available from free on a £20-per-month, two-year contract, or for around £210 SIM-free.
Stop playing games
with my phone
The Yari doesn't look like much more than a bog-standard slider phone, but it's packed with stuff that's supposed to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. An accelerometer lets you control games by tilting the phone, and a front-mounted camera spots your flailing arms when playing with the Yari's gesture-controlled games.
The Yari comes with a bunch of games pre-loaded to get you started, with more available to buy from the PlayNow app store. We gave some of them a spin and found that the accelerometer worked well in games like the cutesy LocoRoco.
The gesture-based games were less successful. You have to prop up the phone on the included stand and wave your arms like a drunken octopus to bash a ball in the tennis game, or work your whole body up and down in the fitness game, for example. Not only were the games hard to control, they were embarrassing to play. They're really only suited to lonely nights on your own when an ill-timed power outage has killed your games consoles and PCs.
Take the shot
The Yari has a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and we were impressed with the range of options that it gave us, from smile recognition to a timer. Our shots in good light came out slightly pink, but they weren't too bad otherwise. In low light, our photos were grainy and noisy, but the LED photo light helped to brighten things up, and it's better than having no illumination at all. The front-mounted camera can be used for video calling, as well as for games.
Not one for Web
The Yari has 3G and HSUPA, but no Wi-Fi, and its poor Web browser means that it's not much fun for surfing the Web. Its GPS is better, and Google Maps is on-board to keep you on the right path. You can even log into Google Latitude to share your location with your friends.
You can also keep in touch with a built-in Facebook application, which did a good job of displaying everything we needed to know on the small screen. Snapshots can be sent straight to Facebook, Picasa, Flickr or Blogger, so there'll be no more waiting to embarrass your mates with evidence of their antics on your latest pub crawl.
Feature phone by name
Sony Ericsson never skimps on features, preferring to throw in everything but the kitchen sink, even if you'll never use most of it. The Yari is no exception, offering a bulging goody bag, including an FM radio, a step counter and TrackID, which identifies music based on a short recording.
There's even a torch app that shines the LED photo light like a beacon, with a setting to send out an SOS in Morse code. Morse code on a phone is unquestionably awesome, especially if you hang out on fishing boats or around telegraph operators. But the problem is finding these options among the YouTube apps and music-quiz games that fill every nook and cranny of the Yari's user interface.
If you don't mind spending plenty of time looking around the phone, or reading the manual, you might love the tombola of features, but we think you're more likely to either be overwhelmed by them or just consider them annoying clutter.
Never cry Yari
In our tests, the Yari's call quality was very poor. Even with the volume turned up to full, we struggled to hear calls. It was so bad that we're tempted to blame our specific test handset, rather than all Yaris.
We also found the flat keyboard slightly uncomfortable to use because of the lack of raised buttons. There's some feedback, so you know when you've pressed the keys, but we found their soft travel unsatisfying.
Sony Ericsson brags about the Yari's mobile-gaming chops, but its small screen and limited power mean it's not that impressive. Also, unless you want to get arrested for accidentally belting the person sitting next to you on the bus, we advise staying away from the gesture-controlled games when out and about. Even without the cheesy games, though, the Yari packs a plethora of low-end features into a generic-looking phone that won't break the bank.
If you're after a Sony Ericsson slider, the vastly superior W995 Walkman has a better camera and music player, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and most of the same features. Since it's a few months old, it's also available for £20 per month.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet