Sony Xperia T Android smartphone review
Spy call – sounding out Bond's blower
Featuring in that new James Bond film, the Sony Xperia T may not be 007’s most advanced piece of kit, but it is one piece of Skyfall hardware that you can actually buy. Sony is clearly throwing the kitchen sink at the publicity effort, plastering bill board ads with the device and paying what must surely be an awful lot to be spied with the spy.
I-spy: Sony's Xperia T
Like, err James Bond, the Xperia T isn't designed to be opened up – you can’t pop the back out or replace the battery but it takes a micro SIM and a micro SD card up to 32GB. A micro USB port takes care of charging and the like. Sony's design is a fresher than key rival Samsung – the Android phonemaker to beat – but unfortunately the premium look of the phone is let down by the materials. It just feels a little, well, not premium.
The Bond phone gets a
Silva silver option
It’s mean to quibble over a Sim Card slot, I guess you’d only notice its kid’s toy clear plastic hinges on the rare occasions you swapped the micro SIM or SD card in or out. Yet this slot is your starting point with this mobile, and it looks and feels cheap. Likewise, the plastic back of the phone is a little lightweight and raspy, lacking the premium tactility of the metal and glass of rivals like the iPhone.
The distinctive curve of the Xperia Arc re-emerges
Besides a return to the curves of the SE Xperia Arc, the other key design feature is that there is no physical home button, just a line of buttons on the right hand rim of the phone that control power, volume and camera. The power button lies just below standard thumb position, which I find slightly annoying. The virtual back, home and all open applications buttons lie at the bottom of the screen, which looks good, and works fine except when you’re typing – it's all too easy to occasionally hit the home button when reaching for the space bar.
Shoots full HD video and 13Mp stills
The stand-out feature of the T is the bright, crisp, 323ppi, 1280 x 720 resolution 4.55in touchscreen – animated videos of flowers pop and the preloaded film trailers look great. Widescreen films are pulled out to the edges of the screen, which makes for a great engaging viewing experience. No doubt Sony will have a full-length version of 007's latest outing available in hi-def in due course. Optimised movies are available to download from Sony's store for a price.
Die another day
Entertainment aside, for standard phone use – reading emails, browsing the web – the vivid screen's wow factor is muted somewhat although the overall size helps. Indeed, being a big bright display, battery life is impacted. Out of the box, doing an average amount of work on the phone, it’s done in just under a day. I wonder what Q would make of this?
Home screen and music overload
He might be curious to note that – along with the smooth running 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Krait processor – the handset runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, not the latest Jelly Bean. Sony's UI enhancements include a few widgets squished on top, such as the photo flipper – a virtual rotating sheaf of photos which is attractive, fun to spin round, and makes good use of the high def screen.
AnTuTu scores and Help is at hand
But having three different preloaded applications for music was a bit too much clutter. Sony’s Facebook integration was fiddly to set up and fiddly to use. It didn’t really add much to either the phone or Facebook experiences – with tiles accidentally closing and opening and the connection to phone numbers not being particularly helpful. Add in the Sony Select and the Android Help widget and it felt like the company could have done with applying its minimalist principles to its software offerings on the handset.
In general use, my stumbling blocks with the Xperia T came from working out which of the multi-faced ways to access the menus, the apps dashboard, the homepage et al – the right-hand side slider of open apps was the right way to get something done. Presumably, this becomes more intuitive over time.
Impressive screen but no doubt Q would take issue with the plastic body
These grumbles aside, Sony knows a thing or two about photography and the 13Mp camera is a joy. It’s responsive, easy to use, and makes good looking images of the most casual snaps even in poor light and features an LED flash if you need it. The panoramic feature works nicely for wide, seamless shooting and, again, that screen makes casual viewing of photos a delight.
Overall, Sony's Xperia T is an attractive phone with great camera and a beautiful screen, but it lacks Jelly Bean and, in the hand, it seems not so much the 007 of the smartphone market, more a 005½. ®
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