Sony Xperia T Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

We’ve been waiting with bated breath for the Sony Xperia T ever since it became clear that’s the new phone of James Bond, err… that it will feature a 13MP camera sensor from Sony.

It is not just that 13MP shooter that the Xperia T has to flaunt – it is powered by a modern 28nm Snapdragon S4, has a large HD screen, and is one of the few to take advantage of Android’s on-screen navigational buttons, allowing it to keep the size compact and bearable.

Would these be enough to stand out against the thin quad-core competition coming in spades from Samsung and LG? Dive into our review to find out…

In the box:

  • In-ear stereo headphones
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall plug
  • Warranty and information leaflets


Design:

Sony sort of pioneered the arched handset design of its big-screen phones with the Xperia arc, and the Xperia T falls into that tradition, offering a slightly curved inwards back, like a stretching cat, which helps with the grip and looks more interesting than the regular flat rears. The back cover is also made of soft-touch plastic and has tapered edges, aiding the grip further.



You can compare the Sony Xperia T with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The front also has a distinctive slope at the bottom, which, together with the rounded corners, makes it more distinct than most flat rectangular fronts out there. In addition, Sony has placed three nice, laser-etched metal buttons on the right – the power/lock key, volume rocker, and the dedicated shutter button – which class the handset up some more. The side keys have a pretty nice tactile feedback, but are somewhat smallish, and crammed at the lower right side, so adjusting the volume requires some more thumb-gymnastics than needed. That’s because the upper right side is reserved for the microSD card and micro SIM card slots, since we have a unibody design with a sealed battery compartment, which are very easy to access under the protective lid.


There is an LED notification light at the front, which, however, is as small as if it is made with a sowing pin, and hardly noticeable except in a very dark environment.




Overall, a distinctive design, which immediately screams Xperia, and, thanks to the smaller screen and the lack of physical navigational keys at the front, has kept the Xperia T shorter and narrower than any of the other big-screen flagships out there, easing one-handed operation. The phone is slightly thicker and heavier than the current high-ends, though, leaving you with the impression that you hold a much larger device.




Display:

The 4.55” HD screen is pretty bright, which is good for outside usage, but here the experience is diminished by higher than usual screen reflectance, messing with the view. The other downside of the screen are the weak viewing angles, which make the colors and contrast look faded when the phone is observed from the side.

Apart from those gripes, we have 1280x720 HD screen with Mobile BRAVIA Engine-powered popping colors in pictures and video mode, plus a very high 323ppi pixel density, making small text and icon edges sharp and distinct.

Sony Xperia T 360-degrees View:





Interface and Functionality:

The usual for Sony Timescape UX here in the Xperia T is plastered over Android 4.0 ICS, and offers the recognizable multimedia widgets for controlling your music, pictures and video collection, as well as the Timescape feed one which integrates your social networking updates in one on your homescreen. The “Facebook inside Xperia” functionality is also present, and integrates your friends into your contacts list, your Facebook photos in your Album gallery app, and so on.


A great feature are the so-called Small Apps in this ICS Timescape edition, which are easily accessible when you press the right on-screen navigational key. Besides the multitasking menu of your active apps that you can scroll through on the right, a dock with four app shortcuts appears at the bottom – Calculator, Voice Recorder, Notes and Timer – and you can add other Small Apps through the Play Store. Upon launch, those small frames just stay pinned on the screen regardless what of you are doing underneath, so you can quickly key in a note while on call, for instance. You can flip through the notes, and even use a magnifying glass to read them, as the Small App pop-up window is, well, small.


Another big plus are the connectivity switches placed in the notification bar now, like on LG or Samsung’s handsets, which allow you quick control of your data connection, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios, or sound profiles. Unfortunately, there is no visible way to add more radios, like GPS, and scroll them sideways, like with LG’s phones.

Timescape’s on-screen keyboard is very good, refraining from the busy layout with a lot of punctuation and emoticon signs of its competition, and offering large, well-spaced keys for faster typing. Swype-like functionality is included in the default keyboard, so you can just type by quickly sliding your thumb across a few letters of the word you input, and the nice text prediction engine quickly has the word lined up for you.



Processor and Memory:

Sony has placed a modern 28nm dual-core Snapdragon S4 in the Xperia T, and clocked it at 1.5GHz, so you never feel underpowered regardless of what you are doing with the phone, even with the somewhat heavy Timescape overlay, which employs a lot of transparent backgrounds and transitional animations.

The handset sports 1GB of RAM, and 16GB on internal memory, of which 2GB are reserved for installing apps, and about 11GB are user-available for files and media.


Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Sony Xperia T4839692560,1
HTC One X48481102447,4
Samsung Galaxy S III 53351201658,6
LG Optimus 4X HD37421118452

Internet and Connectivity:


The ICS browser is the last swan song before Adobe Flash support is dropped from Android with mobile Chrome in Jelly Bean, and the browser on the Xperia T behaves smooth as expected with this processor. Scrolling, zooming and panning around are very fluid, text reflow works like a charm, and thanks to the high screen pixel density, small text is quite readable.



The Xperia T supports the fastest 4G HSPA+ downloads, 42Mbits theoretical, if your network is up to the task, and also has the full radio suite, including DLNA and NFC.



Camera:

Excited yet? We’ve arrived to the best feature of the Sony Xperia T - its 13MP camera with Exmor R camera sensor. It is even faster than the zippy camera in the Xperia S, for example, with sub-second sleep-to-snap times when you press the dedicated shutter key in locked mode, and very quick Sweep Panorama with instantaneous stitching, aided by the powerful processor.



The sensor inside is 1/3” and the lens with f/2.4 aperture, about the norm for what flagship smartphones offer these days, save for the Nokia monsters. The pixel size is smaller, though – 1.12 microns here, compared to the 1.4 microns in most high-end phones. While it has allowed to cram this high of a resolution in a very small sensor footprint, it also might not be letting enough light in, as we know the larger the pixel size, the more light it can absorb, hence improved low-light capabilities.

The interface is the usual rich with functions Timescape camera UI, providing you with either a fully automatic mode, or allowing you to adjust every single option like focus, scene mode, white balance, and so on, plus providing regimes like smile recognition. It even allows you to set up the phone to recognize an ear-to-ear grin only, or the faintest chuckle. No complaints about the interface, except for the lack of HDR mode.



While with good contrast and pleasant, though slightly oversaturated color representation, the pictures don’t boast any extraordinary amount of detail or exceptionally low noise, even outside. We’d say they are about at the level of current high-end iOS and Android phones.



The low-light capability of the sensor didn’t manifest itself either – in our night samples there is halo around bright objects, blur and noise – about what we get with most smartphone cameras. Indoors the pictures didn’t have any major issues – they came out fairly sharp and well-exposed when the LED flash fired, yet noise is evident and climbs up when the lights dim.



The phone shoots very good 1080 video with smooth 30 fps, even inside, and exposure compensation while panning around is very fast and gradual. The only gripe is that the continuous autofocus is a bit slow to change the focus from the nearby object to the distance, and vice versa. The sound captured is relatively strong and clean, but again, nothing to write home about.

Sony Xperia T Sample Video:



Sony Xperia T Sample Video - night:



Sony Xperia T Indoor Sample Video:



As far as the video capture interface goes, we can zoom in with pinching the screen, also while shooting, and there is an abundance of scene modes to choose from.


Multimedia:


The minimalistic Walkman-branded music player comes with very Windows Phone-looking interface, with tiles for the song category, and Modern UI-style back buttons. There are a few equalizer presets thrown in, and the loudspeaker is the usual great Sony endeavor that we find on most Xperias – clean and with high volume without notable distortions.



The Xperia T video player has a basic but pretty interface, and supports video playback of DivX/Xvid files up to 1080 definition. You can “throw” the currently played movie to another compatible Sony device you have around, like a TV, and it will start from where you left off on the phone.





Call quality:

Call quality is nothing special, neither in the earpiece, nor the sound that is relayed by the two noise-cancellation mics to the other side. The voices in the earpiece sound a bit flat and dull, and the strength leaves something to be desired. The other party said we sound subdued, and our voice came out slightly distorted.

Battery:

The sealed 1,850mAh battery of the Xperia T is rated for the about average 7 hours of talk time in 3G mode, and 17 days on standby. Music playback will last you 16 hours at the most, and when watching videos you won’t get more than 5 hours out of the handset, which is slightly below average for a phone with large LCD screen, which are usually rated for about 6 hours.

Conclusion:

The Sony Xperia T doesn’t offer groundbreaking features compared to the other flagships out there, but it is a pretty compelling package nonetheless. The sturdy arched design will appeal to many, and the 13MP camera will let you capture those impromptu moments on the fly because of the dedicated shutter key. There are no major gripes with the handset either – it is zippy, with expandable storage and easy to access card slots. The only minor issues are with the screen - its coating reflects too much light outside, which tampers with the view under direct sunlight, and the viewing angles are weak. Our biggest expectations were towards the 13MP sensor, but it doesn’t offer much better capture than its predecessor, and the pictures and video quality is about what we find in the other high-end phones of today.

Those flagships in about the same price range are the Xperia T’s main competition, too – the Samsung Galaxy S III sports a larger 4.8” HD Super AMOLED display, which is superior to what we find on the Xperia T, and is also thinner and lighter. The HTC One X has a larger screen too, but its unibody design omits a microSD slot. The LG Optimus 4X HD has a brilliant screen, too, and is as compact as the T, but the camera fares worse. Sony’s phone, however, won’t have much to show against the upcoming Optimus G, which is more powerful, built with premium materials, and also has a 13MP camera like the T.

If you are not a fan of large screens, you can also check out the upcoming iPhone 5 as an alternative, especially if you are somewhat invested in the iTunes ecosystem. Other upcoming threats to the Xperia T are the Windows Phone 8 flagships from Nokia and HTC, which have the same processor, but the Lumia 920 sports a camera with optical stabilization, and the HTC 8X has a dedicated audio amplifier, but its screen is smaller than the one on Sony’s finest.

Software version: 7.0.A.1.303

Sony Xperia T Video Review:

Video Thumbnail



Pros

  • Fast camera with dedicated shutter key
  • Sturdy design with very easy card slots access
  • Strong and clean loudspeaker
  • Helpful Smart App pop-ups

Cons

  • Bad screen reflectance and viewing angles
  • Call quality should be better
  • Volume rocker is placed uncomfortably
  • LED notification light is too small

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

User Rating:

7.7
9 Reviews
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