Curvy, sleek chassis; good, colourful screen; 24 hours battery life.
Lack of power; display could be brighter; Timescape is still disappointing.
The Sony Xperia J is a good-looking smartphone aimed at the middle of the market, but it doesn't offer the same impressive performance that its big brother the Xperia T offers.
James Bond gets to play with the Sony Xperia T in Skyfall, but if you’re not quite in Mr Bond’s league, how about checking out the T’s little brother, the Xperia J?
Soft to touch
The latest Xperia handsets all have a similar look and feature a reverse with a soft touch that makes them nice to hold. The gentle curve on the back also means they fit nicely into the hand. The Xperia J weighs about the same as its bigger brother, but has a neater chassis, with a stretched 4in display that sits in the middle of a glass panel.
Sitting below the screen is a trio of touch-sensitive buttons for Home, Back and Menu – unlike the Xperia T, which has done away with its exterior keys in favour of onscreen ones. Above the screen sits the front-facing camera lens. The Xperia J also has a removable back, which when prised off allows the user access to the battery, along with the Micro SD memory cards slots and SIM card. The back is trimmed with a metallic bar that makes it feel quite solid.
The volume and power controls can be found on the right side of the handset, while the left is where you’ll see the Micro USB slot, which links the phone up to a computer and is also the port for charging.
More ice cream?
For some reason, Sony seems to linger around older versions of operating systems. The Xperia S plodded along with Android Gingerbread for ages before getting its Ice Cream Sandwich update, and both the Xperia T and Xperia J have been lumbered with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, when other Android phones are already experiencing the delights of Jelly Bean. The good news, though, is that ICS is still a pretty fresh OS and you shouldn’t feel you’re losing out on much while you await an update.
As usual there are five desktops that can be personalised with your own choice of widgets and apps (widgets can be resized as you wish now too). Sony has overlaid the operating system with its own interface. It’s got a neat electric design, but we still find the Timescape widgets to be far too slow and clunky – the social media feeds on Samsung and HTC phones are far superior.
Just my type
The onscreen keyboard is pretty decent for typing emails and texts. Speedy typists will appreciate the well-spaced-out keys, and the accurate auto-correct. There is also a built-in SWYPE facility, where you type by dragging your finger from one letter to the next. The only thing that is annoying is that to type symbols and numbers you have to use a little, fiddly key that sits next to the ‘hide keyboard’ button. So you can guess which one we kept hitting. It’s easier to hold the phone in landscape mode to get more space on the keyboard.
If you have waiting messages or other notifications a light appears above the display, but there is a second light too, at the bottom of the handset. It glows in whatever colour matches your chosen theme, but because it is in such an odd position you don’t always see it.
The waiting game
We found ourselves doing a lot of waiting – for an app to load or waiting for the browser. And when we played games, especially the more demanding ones such as Blood & Glory: Legend, we were plagued by low frame rates. It manages perfectly well with 2D games, but if you’re an avid gamer this is probably not the phone for you and you’d do better to choose a dual-core handset such as the HTC Desire X.
We encountered a lot of lag while playing with the Xperia J. It never got so bad that apps crashed or that we needed to reset the handset, but for instance we would tap an app shortcut or menu option and nothing would happen. And you could never be quite sure if you’d not tapped hard enough or if it was just taking its time – in most cases it turned out to be the latter.
The Xperia J’s screen, at four inches, may be just over half an inch smaller than that on its big brother, but it’s fine for playing with apps, surfing the net and enjoying films. This is a decent mid-range display, which is colourful and offers decent viewing angles. Videos and photos look good, although some videos seemed a tad dark at times – it would have been nice to be able to notch up the brightness sometimes, although we could still see the display in bright sunlight.
Getting the picture
The Xperia J has a five-megapixel snapper that does a decent job of grabbing outdoor shots – the kind you’d take on a day out with the family. Look at the photos on a computer screen and you’ll see they aren't quite sharp enough, but they’re perfectly acceptable for social networking sites and colour repro is realistic. For low light shots Sony has included an LED flash, as well as some nice additional features such as panorama mode. There’s also a front-facing lens for making video calls – even if it does produce really grainy images.
Storage-wise, you get 4GB, although only 2GB is available for storing your apps and other media. But this can be expanded using the Micro SD memory card slot.
Battery life is impressive – with moderate use, sending emails and texts, playing music and fiddling with apps – we got more than 24 hours from a full battery, even with Wi-Fi on and the screen as bright as it could go. Playing games and streaming movies will see the battery run out of juice in about six hours.
The Xperia J from Sony is one of the best-looking phones aimed at the mid-market at the moment. It has the design flare of the Xperia T but comes in at only half the price. It’s a shame that Sony has cut corners on specs to get it to this price – and that it is its performance that suffers most. If you’re a keen gamer, this will not be the phone for you, but for anyone else who looks for portability and good design, but on a low budget, there is plenty to like about the Xperia J.
|Type of device||Smartphone|
|Operating System||Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|Dimensions||124 x 61 x 9.2mm|
|CPU||Qualcomm (model not specified)|
|Screen size||4 inches|
|Memory card slot|
|Special camera features||LED flash|
|FM Radio description|
|Colours (Standard)||Black, White|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||Charger|
|Battery life multimedia||6 hours|
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