09 Oct 2012, Carly Page , V3
Even though it's officially James Bond's phone, we found it hard to get excited about the Xperia T. It's a great phone performance-wise, and the screen and camera are among the best we've seen, but it struggles to stand out from the crowd with its dull black design and its same old application software.
Vibrant screen, excellent camera
Poor design, average battery life, some may find the software over-complicated
The Sony Xperia T is the official phone of this year's James Bond movie. With such a big title come big expectations, and it certainly manages to impress on paper, featuring a large HD screen, 13MP camera and a dual-core Snapdragon processor. However, with its boring design and awkward angles, we're not sure Mr Bond is going to be all that impressed.
Design and build
We don't like to start our reviews off on a bad note, but we can't help but think that the design of the Sony Xperia T is uninspiring, especially when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X. While we're a fan of the handset's tough rubberised plastic backing, we think that the matte black finish is a little dull, and we can't see this phone standing out from the crowd on store shelves or being quite flashy enough for James Bond.
We found the Xperia T quite difficult to hold too, no doubt thanks to its bulky dimensions of 129x57x9.4mm and angular shape. Saying that, the rubberised backing does feel nice to hold in the hand, even if the cheaper plastic sides do feel a little creaky when clasped tightly. Another slight issue we spotted is that our finger naturally rests against the camera sensor on the rear of the handset, which could make for some fuzzy images.
As with most Xperia phones, Sony claims the Xperia T's standout feature is its 4.6in LCD HD touchscreen, which comes with Sony's Bravia technology. Although we weren't overwhelmed on first impressions, the display truly shone when we cranked up its brightness. Thanks to its 1280x720 resolution and 323ppi pixel density, the display is about as crisp as smartphone displays get, and we were unable to spot individual pixels.
Outdoor visibility is great too, especially compared to the iPhone, again thanks to Sony's Bravia technology. However, even that couldn't save the phone's viewing angles, which proved disappointing during our hands-on testing.
The Sony Xperia T is preloaded with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) out of the box, and Sony tells us there will be an upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean coming soon. Of course, the Xperia T, like most Sony smartphones, comes skinned with Sony's custom Android user interface, a far departure from Google's vanilla ICS operating system.
That's not to say we don't like it. Sony's user interface (UI) is a lot less intrusive than the one on older Xperia phones. With five home screens, and no option to remove any, the UI might be a bit confusing for first time Android smartphone users, but each home screen has handy features that we think add to the overall experience of the phone. These include Sony's Walkman music player, Sony Music and Video services plus Timescape, which although it is a little clunky, is a nice way to keep on top of your social networks.
One of our favourite features of the user interface is Overview mode. While this doesn't sound all that exciting, it allows you to pinch out from the home screen to display all of your open widgets with a neat floating effect. Tapping a widget will take you to the home screen it's on, which - while saving you little time - is a nice touch.
Another nice touch is the included Swype-like keyboard, which lets you drag your finger from letter to letter rather than punching out text on the onscreen keyboard. This, paired with Sony's excellent predictive word function, makes for a pleasant messaging experience, one of the nicest we've tested recently.
While on paper the Sony Xperia T's dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor doesn't sound quite equal to the processor in the quad-core Samsung Galaxy S3, we noticed no issues when putting the handset through its paces. However, it didn't quite match up to its Samsung-branded rival when we ran the Antutu benchmark test, scoring 8,013 compared to the S3's score of 12,123.
However, the Sony Xperia T proved much faster than the 2GHz Intel-powered Motorola Razr I, which scored 5,828, despite Motorola's claims that the phone is faster than its dual-core rivals.
On paper, the Sony Xperia T's camera is impressive, as the handset boasts a 13MP camera with a back-illuminated Exmor R sensor and LED flash.
Thankfully, it's just as impressive in real life too, and still photos come out full of detail with little noise. We did notice a little fuzziness when images were snapped in low-light conditions, but other than that we were very impressed. The camera interface is also nice, enabling users to fiddle with settings and snap images in Panorama mode, which although it was a little glitchy at the beginning managed to produce some good images.
That's not all the camera has going for it, as it's also capable of shooting HD 1080p video. Though the continuous autofocus proved to be a little slow, video captured was detailed and smooth, although not noticeably better than video shot on rival smartphones.
Sony claims the 1,850mAh battery on the Xperia T will last for around seven hours of talk time, and that seems about right. While the handset will last through a day of average to heavy usage, we did find that we had to charge the handset every night, which seems to have become the norm with smartphones nowadays.
Even though it's officially James Bond's phone, we found it hard to get excited about the Xperia T. It's a great phone performance-wise, and the screen and camera are among the best we've seen, but it struggles to stand out from the crowd with its dull black design and its same old application software. That said, it costs less than its Samsung and HTC branded rivals, so it's a good handset for those after a not too flashy Android handset.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core
Display: 4.55in 1280x720 HD screen
Storage: 16GB external, expandable to 32GB
Camera: 13MP rear-facing, 1.3MP front-facing
Connectivity: GSM/EDGE/HSPA+/HSDPA; 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, 802.11n; Bluetooth, GPS
Ports: microUSB connector, microSD slot, headphone jack
Operating system: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich