Sony Xperia P

Monday, 27 February 2012 0 comments
We're looking at a phone that might be designed for the middle-of-the-road when it comes to pricing, but there's a whole lot more under the hood when you look at the specs.
The design of the phone is light years away from the sleek lines of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, as while there's an aluminium unibody on offer, the chunkiness in the hand is palpable.
Sony xperia p review
It also feels slightly plastic-like too, which is a bit odd for something hewn in the way it is, but it's not the end of the world and the Xperia P isn't without a premium feel to it.
Sony xperia p review
The transparent plastic section at the bottom, which also house antenna tech, gives a nice touch to proceedings, but more importantly the screen is really what got our engines revving.
Sony xperia p review
The White Magic screen is Sony's attempt at taking the Bravia Reality Display one step further, by intelligently backlighting the screen in bright light to make it visible in practically any situation.
Sony xperia p review
It looks the part too, with the 540x960 resolution screen cramming the pixels into the 4-inch offering – to say we were impressed with what we saw would be an understatement.
Sony xperia p review
There's more to the phone as well, with the dual core 1GHz processor cutting a few fancy shapes when swiping through the screens, despite not quite having the clout of some of its rivals.
It's also only having to power Android 2.3, with the likes of Ice Cream Sandwich not appearing until a little later in the year.
Sony xperia p review
The camera start up time was also fantastic, with a very quick boot from start and the addition of a dedicated camera button never goes amiss in our book either.
Sony xperia p review
NFC is also included to make use of those fancy Smart Tags Sony has been banging on about of late, although they are pretty cool and should you take the time to set them up in the way you want, it will be worth it in the long run when you simply tap your phone when you walk through the door to enter 'home mode'.
Sony xperia p review
The internet browser was pretty hard to assess when trying it out on the Sony stand, as it was basically fighting for signal from a thousand other data users – it wasn't terrible but working out how good the speed is was nigh on impossible.
It should be noted the internet browser is as bog standard as they come, with very little in the way of customisation from the original Android explorer.
Sony xperia p review
The texting ability of the phone isn't up to much either when we were trying it out – it was perfectly reasonable when it came to correcting our mistakes, and as you can see there are multiple ways the phone can assess your cack-handed mashings, but it's not the most intuitive on the market.

Without revealing the rhyme or reason behind its seemingly arbitrary Xperia naming convention, Sony's newly minted Mobile Communications arm unveiled its middle ground NXT series entry, the P, at this evening's MWC event. Occupying a space firmly between the S and U, this 4-inch handset boasts a company first -- that WhiteMagic display tech -- while incorporating the better known hardware elements of its older stablemate. With that signature aluminum unibody design, transparent bar and NFC-capabilities, this Android handset is poised to usher a whole new crop of smartphone users into the company's wireless folds. We spent some up close and personal time with the unit, so click on past the break to see whether this phone suffers from middle child syndrome or truly shines on its own.

Unlike the instant impressiveness imparted by the S, this handset skews more average-to-normal where its matte, plastic build is concerned. That's not to say it doesn't convey the same sense of style, quality and durability showcased by its high-end elder, but the wow factor just isn't present. Perhaps this was because we'd previously fondled the flashier U and its illuminating bar eye-candy. No matter, as the feature list associated with this device goes a long way towards raising its profile.

For Sony's part, the P's 4-inch Reality display merges well with its construction, resting comfortably in hand and balanced perfectly by the right amount of heft. Reassuring design aside, you won't notice much "magic" in the whites represented on screen. That boost in display tech is marginal at best, despite the company's claims to the contrary. Indeed images do appear brighter, but we're not sure this will translate as a noticeable feature to the end user.

Like its recently announced smaller sibling, the P runs Android 2.3.7 atop a 1GHz dual-core -- here, an ST-Ericsson U8500 CPU -- but should see a bump to a skinned version of ICS sometime in the very near future. Performance was on par with the U, as navigation and transitions throughout the Timescape UX were neither immediate nor sluggish. Again, it seems as if Sony's staying true to this handset's medium billing, delivering a dependable, if not, awe-inspiring experience.

The hardware keys mimic the U's positioning, relegating all that external control -- power, volume rocker and dedicated camera key -- to the right side, although a tiny speaker grill is also lumped into the mix. Shift to the left and you'll find ports for USB, HDMI out and a flap concealing access to the SIM slot. An 8 megapixel rear shooter, capable of full HD video capture in addition to 2D and 3D imaging, is located on the back.

We didn't have an opportunity to test the company's NFC smart tags, but those necklace-like tokens should function no differently than other implementations of the tech, simply launching associated apps upon a close swipe. Fast capture is also enabled on the unit, waking the display from sleep to snap with a press of the dedicated key. Sony's added a touch of customization into its propriety Xperia imaging app, giving users control of what settings and shortcuts appear on the UI.

In regard to software, the P is more of the pre-bloat same, with a slew of applications filling up the app drawer, as well as access to Sony's synergistic Entertainment Unlimited services. The company's also making a Smart Dock available at launch that should truly transform this phone into a virtual multimedia hub when connected to a TV, keyboard and mouse.
Truthfully, the P isn't the curveball wonder we saw Sony deliver at CES with the S, but it doesn't need to be. Armed with a decent mix of specs, reassuring build and that backing of its content ecosystem, this device should make a smart choice for consumers looking for an enduring workhorse imbued with subtle flair.

Early verdict

Overall, the Sony Xperia P is a fine phone that impresses even without the svelte line of its predecessor.
The price shouldn't be too bad, and with the speedy snappers, clear display and solid build, we'll be keeping a close eye on how our Sony Xperia P review pans out.


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