Sony Xperia T review: Sony Xperia T

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4 stars 17 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Bold and large HD screen; powerful camera; smooth user interface.

The Bad Not the latest Android Jelly Bean software; Processor could have been faster; lots of bloatware apps.

The Bottom Line The Xperia T is one of Sony's best Android efforts yet, but when compared to the incredibly high standard of the competition, it's not quite as impressive as it should be.

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Sony is doing its level best to work through the alphabet with its Xperia range of Android phones, following the recent Xperia S , Xperia J and Xperia U. The Xperia T is the latest addition to this growing stable, with a 4.6-inch HD screen, NFC capability, dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor and a camera with 13 (count 'em) megapixels.

It's such an alluring box of tricks that even James Bond has signed up . So is the Xperia T about to sneak up on Sony's flagship Xperia S around the back of the casino and neutralise it? That's the kind of top-secret intel I'll divulge in this review.

The Sony Xperia T is available on pay as you go for around £400. Alternatively, you can pick it up from £25 on a monthly contract.

Should I buy the Sony Xperia T?

Those of you who've recently picked up the Xperia S may well be wondering if you've made a grave error. But despite the Xperia T's slight spec bump in areas such as camera megapixel count and overall CPU power, this isn't the massive upgrade Sony would have you believe.

The Xperia T unquestionably makes more sense to newcomers or Sony stalwarts who are looking for a new device to replace their ageing Sony Ericsson Xperia Arcs and Plays .

Sony Xperia T back
The back of the Sony Xperia T bends inwards, just like its stablemate Xperia Arc does.

Having said that, Sony has pushed this phone into a battleground that's becoming increasingly crowded by similarly-priced quad-core monsters like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X, as well as the forthcoming LG Optimus G. While the Xperia T's dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU certainly puts up a solid fight, the Xperia T doesn't look as impressive for the same money as the S3, with its bigger screen and muscular chip. The iPhone 5 is also a more attractive handset, although you'll have to shell out an extra £130 for it.

Design

For a device that's supposedly fit for the world's most famous secret agent, the Xperia T is curiously unimpressive from an aesthetic perspective. The front of the phone is covered by scratch-proof glass, bordered by a bezel of black plastic, which lacks the gravitas of the iPhone 5's lush metal trim.

The back is matte textured plastic and comes in a choice of silver or black. The lack of a glossy finish improves grip during those deadly MI6 missions, and the trademark inverted curve -- previously seen on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc -- makes a return. Whether or not it's a welcome one depends largely on how much you like having a phone shaped like a banana.

The battery is non-removable, so the only access port to the guts of the Xperia T is a plastic flap on the right-hand edge of the device. Once opened, this reveals space for a micro-SIM and microSD card. The flap feels a little flimsy when it's not locked in place, but once secured, it sits perfectly flush with the bodywork and is barely noticeable.

Sony Xperia T flap
This flimsy plastic flap is your sole access to the Xperia T's innards.

Also on the right edge is a trio of buttons for Power, Volume and Camera -- the sole physical inputs on the Xperia T. On the opposite side you'll find the micro-USB charging port, which doubles as the HDMI-out socket, thanks to the savvy inclusion of MHL technology. The final item of note is the 3.5mm headphone socket, which sits on the top edge. This is a curious choice when you consider that many other phones -- including the iPhone 5 -- now have this on the bottom.

Display

Powered by Sony's own Bravia Engine and sporting a near-iPhone pixel density of 323ppi, the Xperia T's 4.6-inch TFT display packs a proper punch. Sony is calling it the HD Reality Display, and it's certainly up to the challenge of showcasing your favourite movies in crystal clarity.

Although it lacks the vibrancy and deep, bold blacks of a Super AMOLED Plus panel, the Xperia T's screen is blessed with bright, accurate colours and impressive viewing angles. It's also refreshingly exempt from the speckled effect that often afflicts PenTile AMOLED-packing phones, like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus .

The screen isn't entirely dissimilar to the one seen on the Galaxy Nexus, however. This is one of the first phones to follow Google's blueprint for the perfect Android phone and it does away with capacitive buttons entirely, incorporating them instead into the display.

The Back, Home and Multi-tasking icons aren't actually there at all -- they are part of the display and vanish when the screen powers down. These also reposition in relation to how you're holding the phone. In landscape mode, they switch from side to side, which means they're always on the right of the screen, regardless of whether the phone has been turned clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Sony Xperia T screen
Those three Android buttons at the bottom of the screen are actually part of the display, rather than separate controls.

Processing power, internal storage and NFC

Although it boasts the same clock speed as the Xperia S, the Xperia T's dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU offers visible improvements over the Snapdragon S3 chip seen in its predecessor.

The performance of the Xperia T's processor is comparable to the latest quad-core chipsets seen in rival devices, as the Quadrant Standard benchmark attests. It notched up 4,782, close to the One X's 4,904 total and the Galaxy S3's 5,289 score.

However, the AnTuTu Benchmark tells a different story, with the Xperia T topping out at 7,049, beaten by a might showing of 10,827 from the One X and a whopping 12,112 on the Galaxy S3. This is backed up by occasional moments of slowdown during intense application usage. While the overall experience is a pleasant one, if you're looking for cutting-edge power, you'll want to consider a quad-core device.

Sony Xperia T benchmarks
Quadrant (left) and AnTuTu (right) tests tell two tales -- the Xperia T holds its ground against the S3 and One X in the former and lags in the latter.

It's impossible to ignore the slick nature of the customised Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS , and general navigation is smoother than a chat-up line from Agent 007. This assured sense of power carries across to other elements of the phone, such as web browsing and playing games. The Xperia T carries 1GB of RAM, which is the same as the Xperia S.

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Where to Buy

Sony Xperia T

Part Number: CNETSony Xperia T

Typical Price: £400.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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