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Sony tempts Xperia smartphone owners with snazzy themes

Fancy Xperia smartphone owners have another perk to look forward to, a fresh selection of Sony-sanctioned Android skins to play with.

The Triflat Xperia theme has sleek, colorful style. Brian Bennett/CNET

Love your new Xperia phone's water-proof design but not so much its software UI? Apparently Sony feels your pain. The company has been at it again, touting the virtues of its Xperia Theme Android skins. First announced as part of Sony's Xperia phone upgrade to Android 4.3, the device maker used its official blog today to drum up buzz around the Xperia Theme engine.

Specially created for late-model Sony Xperia handsets and tablets that run Android Jelly Bean 4.3 or higher, these cosmetic tweaks can only be grafted onto select devices. This includes the Xperia Z1S for T-Mobile, global versions of the Xperia Z1 and the Z Compact, plus the new Xperia Z2 just unveiled at MWC 2014. The Xperia Z and updated Z2 tablets can also enjoy Sony's software face-lift. Older Sony gadgets qualify, too, such as the Xperia T, TX, V, and SP, provided they've been updated to Android 4.3.

I personally gave a few of the new skins a spin on an Xperia Z1S for T-Mobile. By far the best-looking theme is Triflat, which is colorful, stylish, and tastefully futuristic. I'm not so sure about the Noir theme, which is way too cartoon-cyberpunk for my taste. Thankfully these skins are free, but some of the other compelling choices, such as SciFi ($2.99), Robot ($1.51), and Steampunk (99 cents) cost extra.

The dark, comic-book style of Noir is a bit over the top. Brian Bennett/CNET

To check out for yourself what Xperia Themes has to offer, mosey on over to the Google Play store or the Sony Select mobile application.