Sony Xperia T Review: Hands-On

Sony has gone on to produce leading, high-spec handsets since the Japanese manufacturer split with Ericsson after a decade in partnership. The latest of these is the Xperia T, a high-end handset that continues the linage of the Xperia range and expands both functionality and design . We were able to have a quick hands-on with the device and tested some of its new features, so read on to find out whether the Xperia T is worthy of the name.

While the Xperia brand will be familiar to many with iterations such as the Xperia S and the underwhelming Xperia Play past mainstays of the range, the Xperia T is a new flagship device which brings some additional features to a series of phones that have proven popular in the past.

In terms of aesthetics, the Xperia T is certainly not unfamiliar. Whilst the arched backplate that Sony employed on the likes of the Arc, Arc S and Arc HD was not present on its last flagship, the Xperia S, it makes a return here and gives the handset a look which is similar to the aforementioned devices.

Covering that curved backplate is a textured, matte coating that makes the device easy to grip and comfortable to hold. While the Xperia T’s sharp, angular corners make it a little cumbersome the coating is extremely tactile and what the phone lacks in comfort it certainly has in grippiness.

Sony has chosen to forego the traditional array of physical buttons and they are conspicuous by their absence from device’s front fasica. Instead, the phone relies on virtual keys to perform the basic navigational functions. There are a few physical buttons mounted on the right hand side of the handset with the unlocking key, volume rocker and camera shutter button being easy to reach.

The screen is 4.6-inches in size with a 720p HD resolution which produces some good quality visuals and makes the user interface appear clear and detailed. The addition of Sony’s Mobile BRAVIA Engine is a definite advantage – while photos look good on the screen it is videos that really stand out and appear bright, clear and crisp.

A real standout feature of the Xperia T is the 13 megapixel camera, one of the highest (in terms of megapixels) seen on any smartphone to date. An unusual feature of the camera is that in order to utilise the full 13 megapixels the aspect ratio of the image has to be reduced to 4:3, with the full 16:9 of the device’s display only available if the camera’s function is reduced to 10 megapixels, which is a little disappointing to say the least. There is also the option reduce the image quality further, to 2 megapixel images, which seems a strange feature for Sony to have introduced.

The camera’s capabilities are also reduced by the lack of any manual focus controls. Autofocus is the only option and while this works well we found that it does dictate the shots that are taken more than we would like. However, the Xperia T can produce some fantastically detailed macro shots and despite a few annoying quirks it is a powerful cameraphone which will have quite an appeal to amateur photographers.

Sony has made much of the NFC capabilities of the new Xperia flagship, having introduced a service called One Touch which allows the handset to share content with other devices through a simple tap. Music can be sent to another Xperia T device (or a Sony speaker) and other things such as maps and messages can also be shared.

The service works in a very similar way to Android Beam or the S-Beam function found within Samsung ‘s Galaxy S III, sharing content to neighbouring devices through the NFC technology increasingly incorporated in to high-end handsets. When coupled with Sony’s Music Unlimited subscription service, One Touch will go some way to creating a mobile ecosystem across which content can be moved and shared easily.

Based on the early impression that we have gained from our hands-on, the Xperia T’s standout feature is its camera. The megapixel count alone is enough to grab headlines, with few other smartphones being able to better it, although the camera does have some unusual quirks such as the lack of manual focus and that the full display cannot be used on the highest definition setting.

Otherwise, the Xperia T is a great addition to Sony’s leading range and pulls a number of older features such as the arched backplate through to a newer device. With Sony being such a big name across a wide range of consumer electronics (not just phones) the idea that NFC can be used to create a mobile ecosystem is an interesting one.

That, along with the extended functionality engendered by One Touch, is something that we’ll be exploring during the course of our upcoming full review. For now, it looks like Sony has wrapped several aspects of mobile technology up into an easy-to-digest package that could combine to create a good result.

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