Sony’s self-proclaimed James Bond phone – a stylish must-have or overpriced tat?
The Xperia T is the latest Android smartphone from Sony and the company has been marketing the new phone heavily as ‘the Bond phone' due to its appearance in Skyfall, the latest 007 film. It's not garishly designed. It's understated with a black plastic surface that feels sturdy and not at all slippery unlike some other phones (it's also available in white). Although the 4.55in screen is a little unwieldy to use single-handed, the curved back makes it a little easier to hold for such a large phone. Compared to previous Sony Android phones, the Xperia T is much thinner and doesn't wobble if used when placed flat on a table.
The 4.55in screen has a resolution of 1,280x720 pixels that looks sharp and clear. Only one model with 16GB of storage built-in is available – if you want more than that you'll need to buy and plug-in micro SD memory cards.
We tested the Xperia T on the Vodafone network in central London and call quality was generally loud and clear, although the earpiece did occasionally sound a little muffled. Battery life was good too – it lasted 32 hours when using GPS, making occasional phone calls and web browsing on both Wifi and 3G. This is better than many other smartphones we've seen. When playing videos on a loop, it lasted just under ten hours which is also good.
Sony hasn't messed with the standard Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich interface too much - most of the alterations are merely cosmetic. One potentially useful addition is the small selection of mini-apps, such as a notepad and calculator, accessed by pressing the standard Android app switcher button. These float above other apps and will be instantly familiar to users of Samsung Galaxy Note and Tab devices. Sony has included plenty of its own apps too, including a Walkman-branded music player and an app that turns your phone into a remote for your Sony smart TV.
Sony has confirmed that the Xperia T will receive the 4.1 Jelly Bean upgrade sometime early next year. Google has announced an ever newer version of Android, 4.2, and we're still awaiting word from Sony as to whether this will be available for the Xperia T or not and, if so, when.
The 12-megapixel resolution of the camera sounds impressive, but increasing the resolution without increasing the size of the sensor doesn't always lead to better pictures. In this case, even photos in broad daylight suffered from noise and a lack of detail when zoomed in, but the shots are still usable. The camera fared well in low light conditions, producing reasonably detailed, well lit shots that are better than those from other Android phones we've seen and almost matched with the iPhone 5's camera. One handy feature present on all Xperia phones is the ability to quickly and simply take panoramic photos.
Unlike other high-end Android smartphones, the Xperia T has a dual-core processor instead of a quad-core model. It's not far behind the quad-core Samsung Galaxy S3 when loading complex web pages and running apps, but in actual, day-to-day usage, it felt a little more sluggish, especially when scrolling through long web pages or zooming in and out of maps and photos.
Overall we were fond of the Sony Xperia T. It's a sturdy phone that's reasonably comfortable to use despite its large size and has a good quality screen and long battery life. The occasionally sluggish performance and already slightly out-of-date operating system are concerning, but overall this is a good smartphone.
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Generally well-designed with good battery life and sturdy build. It's a good alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S3 if you're looking for an Android smartphone and have money to spend.
Robust and classy design; Lengthy battery life; Good quality screen
Some performance issues; Not the latest version of Android
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