Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/20/review_sony_xperia_p_android_smartphone/

Sony Xperia P mid-range Android

Smart enough for the money?

By Alun Taylor

Posted in Phones, 20th June 2012 06:00 GMT

Review Little brother to the Xperia S, the Xperia P is the second Sony Ericsson handset to arrive in the UK. The company's flagship S model prompted a slightly lukewarm response when launched but the Xperia S sets its sights lower as a mid-range handset on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S Advance and HTC One V.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Middleweight fighter: Sony's Xperia P

Structurally, the Xperia P follows the pattern set by the larger S. The body is made from a lump of aluminium and all the controls and ports – including a micro HDMI socket, the speaker and a physical camera button – are featured along its sides. I prefer my charging socket to be at the bottom rather than sticking out of the upper left-hand side but at least the 3.5mm audio jack is at the top.

The battery is fixed in place and the Sim card slot looks and works much like the iPhone 4’s and similarly only takes micro Sim cards. At 120g it’s reasonably light but the slab sides do exaggerate its 10.5mm girth.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Entertaining prospect: HDMI on-board

In a slight change from the Xperia S the P’s three Android virtual buttons are ranged along, rather than above, a clear plastic strip that divides the upper and lower parts of the handset. It’s a novel and not unattractive design concept but it has two small problems with its execution.

Firstly, the plastic cover of the lower section is rather too easily removed. Secondly, the small LEDs that illuminate the icons printed on the perspex are too puny. The latter doesn’t impede usability but if you are designing for visual appeal, go the whole nine yards.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Style and practicality?

The 4in LCD screen has a resolution of 540 x 960 which results in a dots-per-inch figure of 275dpi. That’s an improvement over the 233dpi of the Samsung Galaxy Advance and makes the Xperia’s screen sharper though being LCD rather than AMOLED it doesn’t perform as well in sunlight.

Store points

The Xperia P is driven by the same 1GHz dual-core chip as the Galaxy S Advance too. Also, like the Advance, you have to make do with Android 2.3 but at least Sony has committed to an Ice Cream Sandwich update later in the summer.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Home screen and Timescape

Android has here been given the usual Sony makeover with bespoke icons, widgets and graphics and you get the Timescape social aggregator as well as Music and Video Unlimited services built-in. The music player is very impressive and pumps out a full and well balanced sound.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Power widget and AnTuTu score

The Xperia P’s average AnTuTu score of 5380 trumped the Galaxy Advance S but only by 200 points. That’s a score that demonstrates more than enough raw power to run 720p video and 3D games like Shadowgun without a hitch. They look great too thanks to the screen’s Mobile Bravia Engine image processing.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Music player and browser

With no SD card expansion you are stuck with what Sony has fitted inside but that’s a decent enough 16GB. In the real world that divides up into 2GB for apps and 11.5GB for files the remainder being gobbled up by the system.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Snap happy

While most Android phones at this price make do with a 5MP camera, Sony gives you an 8MP snapper. As with the Xperia S, you get an Exmor R sensor for better-than-you-expect low light photography and the capacity to record video at up to 1080p. On the whole, I’d rate the Xperia S camera as pretty darned good.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

The camera leaves little to complain about

The front-facing VGA camera on the other hand can’t match the 1.3MP unit fitted to the Galaxy S Advance but it’s still more than good enough for making Skype video calls or videoing yourself picking your nose.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone  Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

8Mp stills but 1080p video on-board
Click for a full-resolution image

Despite the rather puny 1305mAh rating the battery proved no worse than average, getting me through between 24 and 36 hours depending on how hard I ran it. That said, you’ll get more from the batteries in both the Galaxy S Advance and especially the HTC One V.

Sony Xperia P Android smartphone

Advance warning: the Xperia P stakes its claim on the middle ground

Verdict

Forget the flash über-phones, it’s in the Android mid-range where the real action is because, like the Samsung Galaxy S Advance, the Xperia P is affordable and all the phone most people will ever need. The screen is bright and crisp, it has a decent camera and a distinctive design. With the same chipset, there’s little difference in performance between the Xperia and the Galaxy Advance so it comes down to this: do you want a better camera and a certain ICS upgrade or a microSD card slot? ®

Thanks to Clove for the loan of the review handset.

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