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Sony Xperia P Review

By Simon Thomas on 22nd May 2012


3G Total Score

Pros :
Bright, colourful display; unusual design; dual-core chip; impressive 8-megapixel snapper and dedicated shutter key



Cons :
Disappointing battery life; lip gets in the way; awaiting Ice Cream Sandwich update

 

Verdict :

The Sony Xperia P is a smaller version of the Xperia S – it still manages to cram in many of its older sibling’s features, but the battery life is disappointing.

Full Review and Specification for the Sony Xperia P

Here comes Sony’s second solo effort after it was estranged from Ericsson – the Sony Xperia P, which is a smaller version of the impressive Sony Xperia S, which we loved for its incredibly sharp display and smooth design. While the Xperia P may look like its older sibling, has it managed to squeeze all its great features into to that compact chassis?

 

One thing it does share with its big brother is the see-through bar that sits below the display. This is where you’ll see pressure areas that light up when you press them – one each for Home, Menu and Back. Push the bar to make them perform – it’s very neat and the phone looks great, despite that odd lip beneath the bar, which does make it a bit chunkier than it should be. 

 

The back of the phone is silver, and it cannot be opened, so you won’t be swapping batteries. The SIM card sits in a slot on the side of the handset. The Xperia P is really smart looking, its curvy and silver and is reminiscent of the HTC One S, although it doesn’t have the solid metal body that had. It feels more plasticky, but still manages to be solid in build and more than capable of resisting scuffs.

 

If you hate having to prise the cover off a micro USB port you’ll be glad to know it has been left uncovered on this handset – plus there is a mini HDMI port should you wish to connect your phone to a monitor or TV. The power key is on the right-hand edge – which is rather annoying because we kept hitting the volume controls when we were aiming to unlock the handset – we’re not sure why it couldn’t sit on the top of the handset.

 

Gingerbread still a treat

 

The Xperia P runs the Gingerbread version of Android, but it has the benefit of an Xperia user interface, complete with the swirly live wallpaper that we enjoyed on the Xperia S. Ice Cream Sandwich may be some time coming to the Xperia phones, which is odd as everyone else is offering handsets with Android 4.0 already installed. However, Gingerbread is decent enough and offers plenty of opportunities for customisation. There are five desktops that can be personalised with folders, apps and a good choice of widgets, plus there’s a quartet of shortcuts at the bottom of the display for you to add your favourite apps to.

 

The social media offering is still Sony’s Timescape widget, which is far from well-designed – it streams updates from Twitter and Facebook but never seems to manage to update automatically – and the small window can only fit in two messages at any one time. The news widget is equally unimpressive, although the power tools are handy for quickly switching GPS, Wi-Fi and so on, off and on.

 

Double the power

 

The dual-core chip runs games and apps smoothly and offers future-proofing for future titles. The 1GB of RAM ensures that even some demanding 3D titles ran smoothly.

 

It’s a shame that the battery life isn’t so impressive. We only got 20 hours out of the Xperia P (the Xperia S managed more than 24). And that was light use, such as texting, emailing and surfing the net. Stream media and you’ll be lucky to get five hours out of a fully charged battery.

 

Sharp screen

 

The screen is very decent – it measures 4 inches and has a good 960 x 540 pixel resolution. HD films look crisp, as will your photo library. It’s not up there with the screens on the HTC One X or Xperia S, but it matches the likes of the HTC One S. Colours are bold and viewing angles are wide.

 

If you want music or films, you have access to the Sony Music and Video Unlimited offerings – or you can use the 13GB of onboard storage to carry round your own choice of media. You can’t expand this as there is no microSD slot, but there’s room for thousands of apps and thousands of photos. You can also stream video from sites such as iPlayer.

 

The Xperia P also has Near Field Communication (NFC) on-board. You’ll be able to use this to make contactless payments at some time in the future – but for now you can make use of it with the Smart Tags app. No tags are included with the phone, so you’ll have to buy some if you want them – a packet of four costs about £10 from Amazon and similar sites.

 

Picture perfect

 

The snapper is an 8-megapixel model that produces sharp, bright shots in daylight but fares less well in low light. The resulting images are grainy and dull unless you use the LED flash, which manages to wash-out the subjects. Nevertheless, it captures great 1080p HD video and also has a panoramic facility.

 

A dedicated camera key sits on the right side of the device – press it and it fires up the app and sparks the shutter – if the phone is asleep, it takes only about a second to wake it up and take a snap if you press the camera button.  

 

 

Our conclusion

 

Sony is producing some excellent smartphones in the shape of its Xperia series. The Xperia P is more compact than the Xperia S but manages to cram in some excellent features, such as the 8-megapixel snapper, dual-core chip and good screen – it’s just the poor battery life that lets it down. As an all-rounder, we would pick the HTC One S over the Xperia P, but nonetheless for enjoying media and apps on the move it’s still a good choice.

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Sony Xperia P Review Scoring

  • Style and Handling
  • User Friendliness
  • Feature set
  • Performance
  • Battery
  • Overall Score

Sony Xperia P Phone Specification

GENERAL

Type of device

Smartphone

Operating System

Android

Dimensions

122 x 59.5 x 10.5 mm

Weight

120g

Form factor

Candy bar

Input

Touch Screen

Processor speed

N/A

CPU

1 GHz U8500 Dual Core processor

Graphic chipset

 

Announced

February 2012

Status

Coming Soon

DISPLAY

Screen size

4 inches

Screen type

TFT

Resolution

960x540

Display type

16 million colours

Memory

RAM

1GB

Internal storage

16GB

Memory card slot

 

Camera

Camera

8 megapixels

Secondary camera

N/A

Special camera features

8x digital zoom, LED flash and auto-focus

Sound

3.5mm Jack

 

Music player

Yes, MP3, 3GPP, MP4, SMF, WAV, OTA, Ogg vorbis

Audio recording

 

Radio

 

FM Radio description

FM Radio with RDS

Video

Video recording

 

Video player

Yes, 3GPP, MP4

Video calling

 

Video streaming

 

Additional Features

Browser

WebKit web browser

Games

Yes, downloadable

Voice control

 

Voice dailing

 

Other

Wi-Fi Hotspot functionality, Screenshot capturing,Reality display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine, Timescape with Twitter integrated

Messaging

SMS

 

MMS

 

Email

 

IM

 

Connectivity

Band

Quad-band

Wi-Fi

 

Bluetooth

 

USB

 

NFC

 

GPS

A-GPS

Network

EDGE

 

GPRS

 

HSDPA

 

4G/LTE

 

Other

Colors (Standard)

Black, Silver, Red

Handsfree speaker phone

 

Customisable ringtones

 

What's in the box

 

Website

www.sonyericsson.co.uk

Battery

Standby

Up to 475 hours

Talktime

Up to 360 minutes

Battery life multimedia

Up to 80 hours music listening time and up to 240 minutes video playback

 


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