Fantastic snapper; great HD screen; good build quality; brilliant HD display, solid build, easy-to-use interface
Unimpressive design, well-executed but unexciting features
Sony has produced yet another great media superphone in the shape of the Xperia T. It has an impressive snapper, captures HD video, and Sony has added its own neat touches to Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Since Sony parted company with the Ericsson part of the brand that was synonymous with 90s telecoms, it has gone from strength to strength. Its Xperia phones, with their focus on music, movies and camera that have got better and better – finishing up with the slick Xperia S. But here comes the next generation in the shape of the Xperia T, with a pumped-up processor and 13-megapixel super-snapper, and running on Android Ice Cream Sandwich is the cherry on the top. So is this the next great media superphone?
The Xperia T has a far more substantial feel than the Xperia S. It measures 129.4 x 67.3 x9.35mm and also boasts a big 4.55in display. The design has taken a diversion from the square stylings of the Xperia S, with a flat back, as well as a flat screen that sports sloping edges. And then there’s those silver buttons down the side of the handset. It also has seams, which give it, along with its heavy body, a real retro feel.
Turn over the Xperia T and you’ll see a soft rubber covering that makes the handset feel sturdy – plus there’s a shatter-proof sheet over the glass (that also is scratch resistant) so there is plenty of protection against knocks and scuffs. The chassis also curves in slightly, which offers a degree of protection to the lens of the 13-megapixel snapper.
There’s a slight bezel around the high-def ‘Reality display’ screen, so it doesn’t quite achieve that edge-to-edge ideal. However, the screen resolution is an impressive 1280x720, which is 323 pixels per inch, and which produces sharp, colourful graphics. This is assisted by the Bravia engine, which also powers Sony’s HDTVs. Comparing the screen with that on the iPhone 5, which has a 326ppi, any difference is barely perceptible to the naked eye.
Under the bonnet lurks a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM to keep everything running smoothly. Onboard memory adds up to 16GB, which can by expanded by 32GB using the microSD slot.
The Xperia T wins over its predecessor when it comes to operating system – it runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich. And the user interface looks great too – icons are clear-cut and the fonts slim and sharp. A modern looks comes from the colour scheme of purple, black blue and grey – it is far less gaudy than you see on many Super AMOLED screens.
One feature that impressed us is LiveWare – switch it on if you want to link certain actions when firing up specific apps. For instance, we asked LiveWare to always fire up the music player when we plugged in headphones, and to launch the alarm clock when we plugged in the charger. It’s like the Live Actions that Motorola introduced on the RAZR, but is executed far more efficiently.
Our favourite of Sony’s custom widgets is the weather toolbar – tap on it and it folds out into a square showing more details. There are a number of social widgets too – the Friends music box for instance, displays links to music that your Facebook contacts have posted. Tap on it to listen to the tune, or to post a comment.
Timescape is also there. It has not had good reviews in the past, but now it has integrated Twitter. The idea behind it is that it works like a social aggregator, but has a system of cards that take up plenty of space but only show a little detail. This time around, Sony has left it hidden in the programs menu, instead loading the simpler Feed box onto the default home screen.
Looking to the future
The Xperia T offers support for NFC, although at the moment there are few opportunities to use it (Sony has not included the Smart Tags that came with the Xperia S). You also get Android Beam, which lets you transfer weblinks and files.
Internet connections come via HSDPA – don’t expect the speedy 4G frequency that was recently turned on by EE. Mobile data can be turned on and off using the Data Usage app found in Settings. It is also possible to set a limit on data used, and to alert the user when the limit gets close.
Sound and vision
The Xperia handsets focus on media – and the large, bright display is just made for watching movies. You can view HD films but cinematic 16:9 films will appear with black bars across both the top and bottom. It took some time to copy films onto the onboard memory – about 20 minutes to transfer a few GBs. As we have found on other handsets, it’s often quicker to put the media on a microSD card and then slot that into the phone.
Sony has harked back to the past by dubbing its music player the Walkman app. It now lets you link to your chosen Facebook posts about music, but tap on the links and you won’t be able to automatically play the music. Instead it sends you back to a site that hosts the link – plus if you switch to another app it is stopped. However, if you’re just playing your own songs, you can organise them by artist, album or track and create playlists. To control audio, use Clear Bass and Xloud, and then fine-tune using the Equaliser tab.
Even with all this media usage, browsing the net, and playing games and apps we managed to keep the battery going overnight.
Sony produces some great Cybershot cameras – and the Xperia T has a 13-megapixel snapper, so we were expecting to be impressed, and we weren’t disappointed. Even just looking on the screen before taking a snap the colours are fabulous – it’s that Bravia HD graphics engine at work again. The lens was not speedy to focus, but resulting images were incredibly clear, with great colours on indoor and daylight shots. Orange, white, green and pink were particularly vivid and lifelike.
There is no macro mode on offer, but the camera managed to focus on close-up subjects without issue – and shows up amazing detail. Don’t expect it to do this on anything closer than six inches though.
With a pulsing LED flash and the Sony Exmor sensor at work, lowlight scenes came out clear and bright.
When it comes to capturing video, results are smooth, even if you pan fast. Colours don’t come out as vivid as those on still shots, and the mic does a decent job of sound recording but it’s not very loud when played back on the phone’s speakers. Oddly, these have been placed on the back of the handset, which isn’t the perfect place if you’re watching a film, although Sony has seen fit to include a good pair of in-ear ‘phones though.
Sony continues to produce fine handsets that do all the right things. The Xperia T is a well-built handset, with a slick user interface and some great styling and features. It may have a retro feel to its design, but it has a fabulous screen, great snapper and it so easy to use that there is no good reason not to choose this phone.
|Type of device||Smartphone|
|Operating System||Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|Dimensions||129.4 x 67.3 x 9.35 mm|
|Processor speed||1.5GHz dual-core|
|CPU||Qualcomm Krait MSM8260-A|
|Resolution||1280 x 720|
|Display type||Reality display|
|Memory card slot|
|Secondary camera||1.3 megapixels|
|Special camera features||Pulsing LED flash, 1080p video, panorama|
|Music player||MP3, 3GPP, MP4, SMF, WAV, OTA, Ogg vorbis, FLAC|
|FM Radio description||RDS|
|Video player||3GPP, MP4|
|Other||PlayStation certified, TrackID, xLOUD, TV launcher|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||In-ear headphones, adaptor, USB cable|
|Battery life multimedia||5 hours video playback, 16 hours music playback|
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