We'll save everyone some time here and open this page by saying that the Sony Ericsson Spiro is simply a brilliantly made phone.
It's consists of three parts (the battery cover, the central body and the sliding screen section), all of which fit together perfectly with no shift, no give and no wobble. The screen slides up smoothly, with a small amount of resistance to avoid accidental slides. Once you get it to the top it clicks into place, and slides back down with the same small resistance.
It feels very comfortable in the hand, thanks in no small part to its small size. At 92 x 48 x 16.75mm (when closed) and just 90g, it's very portable.
The front of the Stealth Black version of the phone, with the screen and main buttons, is glossy black, while the rest is easy-to-grip matt. On that front panel we have two softkeys, Call and Terminate buttons (the latter also acting as the power button), and a shortcut key and a 'C' delete button.
In the middle of all those is a round navigation pad with a middle, 'select' button that also doubles as controls for the Walkman software.
The 2.2-inch 240 x 320 (QVGA) screen is bright and vibrant, as we're used to on Sony's phones. Despite its glossiness it was fairly usable in bright sunlight. Though the resolution isn't particularly high, its high enough for text and menus to be perfectly legible.
Slide the front panel up and we get access to the numberpad, which is matt, rather than the gloss of the other buttons. The numberpad is backlit, as are the softkeys and shortcut and 'C' button. The navigation pad is lit around it, but not behind the symbols on it, making it harder to use in the dark.
The numberpad's keys click slightly, though don't have much travel. The click is generally enough feedback for fast typing though. They're not very big, but few keypads are these days. We struggled with a few mistakes when typing long messages, but smaller hands than our big man-hooves will do better.
The keys are ever-so-slightly raised in the middle to make touch-typing easier, but it isn't a big bump, and it seems as though Sony Ericsson is determined to keep the Spiro smooth.
The left-hand side is smooth and featureless, save for the micro-USB port. There's no cover or anything, just a hole, but it's small and sturdy enough that it's not a weak point in the build.
On the right side of the Spiro are the volume keys, which sit flush to the rest of phone and are easy to accidentally press, but again feel solid and reliable. On top of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone port, sitting right in the middle.
On the back of the phone is the lens for the 2-megapixel camera, as well the usual Sony Ericsson and Walkman liveries.
The backplate pops off without much bend when you slide your nail under it, revealing the battery and microSD card slot. Being able to remove the card without having to turn off the phone is always nice, though access to the SIM card slot does require removal of the battery.