Tech Review - Sony Xperia T


Tech Review - Sony Xperia T
Sony gets a new flagship - does it sink or float?
Sony launches their latest flagship with the Xperia T – can it steal the crown from the S?

Sony Xperia T
Sony Xperia TEnlarge Enlarge
With strong support from an increasingly robust Android operating system, the Sony mobile brand has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Since separating from long time partners Ericsson in early 2012, they’ve continued to stick to their brief of crafting handsets for different demands, life styles and budgets.

It’s a strategy which stands in opposition to the more sedate release schedules of giants like Apple and the turnaround between handsets means there’s always something new to tempt punters.

It’s that philosophy which sees us just seven months on from the release of former flagship model the Xperia S already celebrating the arrival of the brand's next attention grabbing unit – the Xperia T.

The Xperia T is coming to market under the name of the ‘Bond Phone’ – a reference to the fact that Daniel Craig carries one during his latest action packed outing in Skyfall. Product placement is nothing new to the franchise and will likely lure in some buyers but thankfully there’s much more to the T than the attraction of sporting 007’s latest gadget.

The Sony Xperia T has a 4.55 inch scratch resistant touchscreen – that’s a full half inch bigger than the newly released iPhone 5. The screen resolution also matches up well, 1280 x 720 pixels for a ppi of 323, because people really count these sorts of things. The T notably turns away from the design elements we’ve seen in the S, U and P – that transparent strip which housed the antenna and sometimes changed colour. The unit instead uses its full 129 x 67 mm façade for that glorious screen, with nothing but a tiny bezel taking you out of the frame.

Truth be told – we weren’t overly fond of the recent design change and the slightly curved back on the T fits perfectly in the hand while the unit looks particularly sharp in its all black configuration, perfect for super spies. The rim is agreeably free of interruptions, bar a USB port on the left (no HDMI this time, who actually used them?!), the headphone jack at the top and hardware keys for power/lock, volume and a dedicated shutter button on the right.

The right side also houses a snug, well moulded door which hides the Sim card and MicroSD slot. The latter is a welcome return to the higher specced Sony phones, meaning that the 16GB of on board storage can be easily supplemented. The plastic case may seem cheap at a glance but feels surprisingly sturdy and easily retains your grip, while being considerably more immune to violence than you might imagine.

The massive display may lack the P’s effective White Magic technology but remains vivid in all but the harshest sunlight, with Sony’s Bravia engine boosting the visuals admirably. The screen is put to great use by the T’s class leading camera which loads 13 megapixels onto the svelte device. It may not be much of an upgrade from the 12mp of the Xperia S but Sony has a history of impressive snappers and this is no different.

While the resolution may draw in some users, those who truly care about quality pictures will be more impressd by the speed, with the app loading and firing in a split second. Focus is generally good (with the normal caveats about low light) and Sony continues to provide a healthy amount of manual controls – from the ability to tweak exposure to white balance and even ISO. With a little extra work and consideration for the conditions, the Xperia T can produce some of the best stills on any recent handset. The full HD (1080p) video is also impressive, though beware of running out of storage.

The Xperia T is powered by a 1.5GHz dual core Qualcomm chip, a higher spec than the Xperia S and boosted still further by a dedicated Adreno GPU – which helps to power media applications. It may lack a quad core processor but in real life use the difference is rarely noticeable. The T is blisteringly fast, particularly when you need it most like during camera operation and switching between apps.

3D gaming is no longer a stuttering slog on your mobile and the ever growing sea of titles on the Google Play store is enhanced here by the addition of the PlayStation mobile service. We couldn’t browse for titles just yet (the store isn’t available right now but will be online soon) but other regions have a decent selection of PSOne titles with more on the way. And while the 1850 mAh battery isn’t the biggest around, it should see you through a day of mild media meddling.

You’ll find a special Sony skinned version of Android on board, with a slick user interface and some inevitable bloatware. The Xperia T sports Android 4.0.4 out of the box – that’s Ice Cream Sandwich for those fond of naming conventions. With Jelly Bean already out in the world we've been assured that the T will get the updgrade as soon as possible.

Another minor niggle is found in the soft keys at the base of the phone. Sony has opted to drop the dedicated settings button here, instead giving you a way to access recent apps. It’s a strange decision, especially considering the latter control worked just fine with a long press of the home key, and makes things less efficient, with setting housed in the pull down menu instead.

But there’s a nice surprise in that drop down too, with shortcuts to popular buttons like Wifi and data and small apps behind the task key which are one touch items like a calculator and notepad. Look for more in the Google store soon. The T also features NFC functionality, allowing it to communicate with other phones and devices with just a touch. There are few enough applications for it now but no harm ever came from future-proofing.

The Sony Xperia T easily positions itself as the flagship successor of the Xperia S – inheriting its great media options and repackaging them into a surprisingly svelte body. With the addition of the bigger screen and a return to the smart lines of the human curvature design, it’s one of Sony’s best looking handsets to date and pushes its pixels at a furious rate. The camera is top notch and media snacking has rarely looked better, while the Android base allows for customization other OS’s can only dream of.
Plus it’s kinda cool to have the Bond theme ring out when you get a call!

The Sony Xperia T is available now from all networks - the special Bond branding is available exclusively from O2.

10 Stars: Recommended
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