Sony Xperia T $450

22nd May 2012 | 15:01

Sony Xperia T

New top-end phone enters the fray at Sony

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Quick capture on camera; Great screen; PlayStation Certified; MicroSD; James Bond has one;

Dislike:

Only 16GB internal storage; No Android Jelly Bean; Mediocre battery performance; Similar to earlier model;

Introduction

Since throwing off the shackles of the Ericcsson partnership, Sony has forged ahead with its Xperia brand – producing some good looking handsets equipped with enough features to rival the best smartphones.

The Sony Xperia T takes over from the Sony Xperia S as the Japanese company's new flagship device. It runs now runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is a big update, and is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, backed by 1GB of RAM.

The 4.6-inch display uses Sony's Bravia TV technology and on the back of the handset you'll find the 13MP camera – one of this phone's best features.

Sony Xperia T review

There's also NFC, something noticeably missing from Apple's iPhone 5, and Sony incorporates it better than most other smartphone manufacturers.

You can pick up the Sony Xperia Tags (more on them later) or the Sony NFC speaker and use this developing technology to do a range of neat things.

Sony Xperia T review

The Sony Xperia T wasn't cheap when it launched thanks to be a flagship device ,but the asking price was still relatively modest compared to the likes of the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S3.

But the good news is that price is coming right down now: you can pick it up for around £299 on PAYG on some networks, which makes it a much more palatable offer for a phone that's just only over half a year old. And James Bond had it - which you may have worked out.

Sony Xperia T review

Judging the appearance of a phone is ultimately a subjective matter, but we feel you'd be a cynic to call the Xperia T unattractive.

The black glossy front is reminiscent of other Sony gadgets such as the PS Vita, and the silver, brushed metal back offers grip as well.

Sony Xperia T review

You can also pick the Xperia T up with a black or white back panel – with the black easily topping our list in terms of looks.

The Xperia T sheds the bulk of the earlier Xperia S and reverts to the sculpted, concave chassis we previously saw on the likes of the Sony Ericsson Arc S.

Sony Xperia T review

The handset is a slim 9.4mm thick and weighs only 139g, enough to slip into a slim pair of jeans or the inner-jacket pocket without worrying about an unsightly bulge.

Obviously Sony is keen to flaunt the looks of the Xperia T and the Japanese company has been shouting from the proverbial rooftops that the phone will be 007's choice in the upcoming movie Skyfall.

Sony Xperia T review

Yeah, OK, we know it's a cheap marketing ploy, but c'mon – it's pretty cool to be rocking James Bond's phone.

The build quality is very accomplished – unlike the Sony Xperia S the Xperia T has a non-removable back, keeping it slimmer and svelter but meaning you can't replace the battery. This is something that might irritate some of the power users out there.

Sony Xperia T review

The SIM and microSD card are both loaded into the phone via a slot-loading system hidden behind a dust cover on the right hand side of the handset.

There's a tiny groove to flick the cover out and it feels reasonably solid, which is good to know if you're frequently swapping between microSDs. Sony has given you 16GB of native storage but with the microSD card functionality you can add up to an additional 32GB.

Sony Xperia T review

Next to the SIM and microSD slot are the only physical buttons on the handset: The power button, camera shutter button and the volume rocker, which can also be used to zoom the camera in and out.

The Micro USB charging port meanwhile is on the left hand side of the phone (unlike the Xperia S, it doesn't feature a dust cover) and the top of the phone is reserved for the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Sony Xperia T review

Certainly on paper, the Xperia T has plenty of power, features and value to make it a worthwhile choice. It also looks the part with a sleek, well-built chassis and is both light and thin in the hand.

If you're looking for your first smartphone then this would no doubt be an excellent choice. But if you've already got a top-tier smartphone from either this or last year, there might not be enough here to warrant a change.

Sony Xperia T review

Interface

Sony Xperia T review

Although the Sony Xperia T is part of the Android family, the interface looks markedly different from Android on a Samsung, HTC or LG phone.

Sony has covered the OS with its own TimeScape skin, and added a few extra themes and widgets not available on other devices.

The Android 4.1 update operating system has improved the device over the last couple of years, and you can see the fruits of Google's labour on the Xperia T.

Swiping between home screens (there are five) is a fluid and smooth experience.

You can drag and drop apps together to create folders and organise your home screen with widgets from the Android stable.

Sony Xperia T review

From anywhere in the interface you can swipe down to bring down the notification menu, which tells you about app updates, messages or emails as well as enabling you to control things such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Before you get to the interface, you're confronted with the lock screen. From here you can swipe left to open the phone or swipe right to launch the camera.

You can also answer or ignore calls and, in what is a very useful feature, skip tracks if you're playing music on the phone.

This is useful when on the move as it means you don't need to unlock the phone and open the music player just to skip on a song or two.

TimeScape comes with its own eponymous widget that collects all your social network feeds into one place.

You can add in the likes of Twitter, Google+ and Facebook and choose how often it refreshes.

Sony Xperia T review

While this can easily be accomplished with third-party apps or the social networks themselves, Sony's offering is slick and fits into the look of the interface.

A long press on the home screen enables you to either change the wallpaper or add widgets, while a long press on an app enables you to reposition it somewhere else.

Even with the option for folders, you'll find the five home screens fill up quickly - especially if you use large widgets like Timescape Feed, Flipboard or Google Calendar.

Apps themselves load up quickly and there's barely noticeable lag as you make your way around the interface.

Sony Xperia T review

Multitasking is harder to do on a smartphone than it is on a tablet, and we still feel Android loses out slightly to iOS when it comes to this.

One other minor point is that the move to three soft-touch buttons (Back, Home and Recent Apps) means that accessing the settings menu is achieved through the pull-down notification menu.

It takes some time to get used to this, and we felt that having it constantly available at the bottom of the screen was preferable.

We found the Xperia T picked up our gestures well and using the keyboard was easy enough to get used to. The haptic feedback is quite apparent, although there is the option to deactivate it if you prefer.

Contacts and calling

Sony Xperia T review

Contacts

Managing contacts on the Sony Xperia T is a relatively easy affair thanks to the same smart options we see on all premium smartphones.

You can add selected contacts to your favourite list or organise them into groups.

For individuality you can also assign different ringtones to different people.

There's limited social network integration.

Although you can import from Facebook or Google+ to see additional information such as birthdays, this isn't really handled as well as other phones such as the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

It would have been nice for the Xperia T to display a profile picture on the contact card, for example.

Calling

Sony Xperia T review

The dial pad icon is located on the bottom right corner of the home screen (although it can be placed anywhere) and the Sony Xperia T features smart dialling.

When you enter a number, you are given the option to also send that person a text message or email, offering a quick alternate route if you decide you don't want to speak to them after all.

To add a contact, you tap a small icon at the bottom-centre of the screen. The Xperia T gives you plenty of options for information including the aforementioned ringtone as well as adding a nickname.

If you're particularly popular and have a large contact list, you can search by tapping the magnifying glass on the bottom left of the screen, or filter using a variety of options.

If you're a WhatsApp user, then the contact card will automatically display the option to send a WhatsApp message instead of a traditional SMS.

The Sony Xperia T handled calls well, as we would expect. Although the volume won't go amazingly high, we found call clarity to be good and didn't experience any dropped calls.

During a phone call, you can switch to speakerphone (which sounded good when we tried it) and drop the call screen away, leaving you free to navigate the phones interface. This isn't a revolutionary feature but is quite handy if you want to look something up without cutting off the call.

Messaging

Sony Xperia T review

Messaging on the Sony Xperia T follows a pretty conventional path and anyone used to either Android or a smartphone in general will be able to get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Like the dial pad icon, the message icon starts off as one of the four shortcuts anchored to the screen.

It'll show up no matter which of the five home screens you're currently viewing – perfect for some fast messanging action.

Like any other app it can be long-pressed and placed anywhere you want.

Once you're into the message hub it will display all your texts with the most recent appearing at the top of the list.

It works like a conversation, displaying both received and sent messages with the most recent action (sent or received) placing that conversation at the top.

If you long-press on a message you can delete that specific message while long pressing on the entire conversation in the message hub screen will enable you to delete the entire thread.

Composing a message is very easy and we found the Xperia T's on-screen keyboard to be up to the task.

Sony Xperia T review

If you prefer a different style of keyboard though, there are plenty available to download from the Google Play store.

Again, haptic feedback is pretty noticeable here so if you're not a fan be sure to turn it off before hammering out a message.

Although the screen on the Xperia T isn't as big as other phones (or phablets) we've seen the keyboard doesn't feel cramped.

If you turn the phone landscape the accelerometer picks up on it (although not as quickly as it could) and switches the keyboard accordingly. You're given much more space in landscape mode and this makes it easier to type at speed.

When tapping out a message, there's the option of adding a file as well as sharing a picture or a note. These are all represented underneath the message box by the relevant shortcut tiles.

If you receive a message (or Facebook update) a small blue light on the front of the screen will blink accordingly.

It will turn green if you receive an email and means you can see at a glance whether you have any new messages. This is a small but handy feature and should really be a standard fare on all smartphones.

Internet

Sony Xperia T review

The Sony Xperia T comes loaded with both the stock Android browser and Google's Chrome browser optimised for mobile.

You can access the internet either through the Xperia T's Wi-Fi b/g/n connection or over 3G on your own network provider.

Wi-Fi is quicker than 3G of course, but only marginally so.

Where you'll notice the difference is streaming videos or downloading items such as podcasts.

The Android browser isn't noticeably different from past iterations and offers you a simple, uncluttered internet experience.

Sony Xperia T review

You can open different tabs by clicking the tab icon in the top right hand corner, as well as save a particular website to your bookmarks.

Bookmarks can be saved into different folders, giving you an easy way to catalogue your pages and keep things nice and tidy.

One useful feature of the Android browser is the ability to download a page to view later offline.

If, for example, you're on a train or moving through a poor signal area, you can cache the page and come back to it later, even without an active internet connection.

Within the settings menu, you'll also find the option to block pop-ups or share pages via your social network profile.

The Android browser enables you to pinch the screen (or double tap) to zoom in and out and we found that scrolling was smooth and intuitive.

Sony Xperia T review

Zoomed text looks good on the 1,280 x 720 screen and swapping between tabs is a simple experience.

A quick press of the tab button displays all the open tabs in a vertical list and even with five or more tabs open, the browsing remained smooth.

Eventually Google's Chrome will replace the ageing Android browser but on the Xperia T at least, you've got the both of them.

The difference is pretty negligible.

Chrome looks nicer, with the famous clean white background and Google's friendly, colourful icons – but in terms of features it offers much the same as its older Android brethren.

Sony Xperia T review

There's the option to bookmark and sort pages, as well as open different tabs for multiple browsing.

Chrome's biggest feature is the option to sign in and sync the mobile browser on the Sony Xperia T with your bookmarks, passwords and browsing history already stored on your home PC or laptop.

You can also use the Incognito Tab feature, which has been a staple of the desktop version of Chrome for a while now.

This enables you to visit sites without anything being recorded in your browser history.

Web pages optimised for mobile will automatically appear that way in both the Android browser and in Chrome.

But there is also the option within the browsers' settings to display the full desktop version of the site.

Sony Xperia T review

Neither browser supports Flash as standard – so you'll need to download it from the Google Play store first.

It's fair to say that the Android browser was due an upgrade and Chrome is the natural successor.

It's immediately familiar, especially to those using it regularly on a PC and although there are other ways to sync into the Google ecosystem, this is yet another method of keeping all your devices connected.

Camera

The Sony Xperia T has a rear-facing 13MP camera which is definitely one of its top features.

Both the quality of the photos, and the range of features included are superb. You also have a 1.3MP front-facing camera, capable of 720p HD, for video calls or Skype chats.

If you want to shoot in the standard 16:9 aspect ratio you have to drop down to 10MP, but as any photographer will tell you, there's more to a camera than just the number of megapixels.

Sony Xperia T review

A few of the usual settings are available, including red eye reduction, geotagging, smile detection and a self timer.

The Sony Xperia T features an f/2.4 aperture which is about standard for top-tier smartphones at the moment.

Interestingly, some of the more advanced features like white balance and ISO settings aren't included on the Xperia T. We've seen these on other phones – particularly the Nokia Lumia 900 – and photography buffs might take issue with this.

Sony Xperia T review

A couple of other notable features have made it onto the Xperia T such as the panorama shot. You pan the camera across from left to right and the Xperia T will stitch the result together to create a sweeping panoramic vista.

A feature Sony are keen to emphasis is the quick capture option that debuted with with Sony Xperia S last year.

This enables you to hold down the shutter button – even when the phone is locked – and it will fire up and take a picture in under a second.

In practice this works very well and means you won't miss the vital picture because you're too busy unlocking the handset and loading up the camera app.

Sony Xperia T review

Click here to see the full resolution image

This picture shows plenty of detail in the fading light, and was taken without a flash with the Xperia T set to the 10MP 16:9 aspect ratio.

Sony Xperia T review

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Detail hasn't been much increased by switching to 13MP and 4.3 format here, although the photo is noticeably brighter, particularly in the background.

Sony Xperia T review

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Close ups come out well, and although there's no macro mode, the auto-sensor does a good job of picking out the detail.

Sony Xperia T review

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The Panorama mode is a nice feature that works particularly well with landscapes. The quality is good, but if you zoom in - particularly on the pavilion in this photo - the stitching is slightly wonky.

Sony Xperia T review

Click here to see the full resolution image

In low light conditions, the Sony Xperia T does a decent job, although the flash isn't the most powerful we've seen in a smartphone.

Sony Xperia T review

Click here to see the full resolution image

The flash works fine in low light for close ups like this.

Sony Xperia T review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Without the flash in low light conditions, the Sony Xperia T will struggle to pick up any detail.

Video

Shooting video on the Sony Xperia T is similar to the still capture mode, although you're given a couple of extra modes, such as sport capture for movement or night time mode for, well, night time.

You can shoot video in 1080p at 30 frames per second to produce decent home-grown video.

Image stabilisation is average and could be improved, especially given the stabilisation that Nokia has recently shown on its new Windows Phone-powered Lumia 920.

Sony Xperia T review

You can alter the white balance and exposure as well as turn on face recognition for video and, as expected, the overall results are impressive.

Sony has been making cameras for a while now and it seems that this expertise is slowly starting to bleed into its smartphone products.

The standard video shot in daylight demonstrates the Xperia T's ability to shoot comfortably in high resolution. However, the image stabilisation isn't as good as rival smartphones and we were quite surprised by the jerky quality of the zoom.

Sony Xperia T review

The video shot in a dark environment with the night-time settings manages to pick up what detail there is.

We found the microphone on the Xperia T was quite good at picking up audio during shooting – just not during an underground music gig.

Media

Sony Xperia T review

Media is a big part of the Sony Xperia T and Sony has put considerable effort into making sure it's handled right.

A lot of the ground work was done with the earlier Sony Xperia S, mind.

But thanks to the Walkman and PlayStation brands putting in an appearance, music and gaming are pretty well taken care of.

There's 16GB of internal storage already on the phone and if you've bulked that up with a microSD card then there's plenty of space here to work with.

Let's not forget as well that if you're a DropBox user, there's the option to add even more storage space through the ether of the cloud.

Music

Sony Xperia T review

Sony's Walkman interface is quite minimalist in appearance with a bold white font that looks not-unlike the text on a Windows Phone device.

During playback, the majority of the screen is taken up with the album cover art.

The play/pause and skip buttons are directly below and a bar at the bottom represents the song timeline.

A nice feature is that the glow emanating from behind the album art will change with the cover.

So, AC/DC's red album cover for Iron Man 2 will produce a different effect from the turquoise of Daft Punk's Tron Legacy Soundtrack.

You can shift from viewing the current track to an overview of your music collection, subdivided into the usual catagories: artist, albums, playlists, and so on.

There's also a spot of Facebook-integration here that shows what your friends are listening to.

It's very easy to find your way around the Walkman music player on the Xperia T.

Sony Xperia T review

There's also no need to stop playback to browse the rest of your music, or go back to the home screen and navigate the phone.

The ability to skip tracks from the lock screen is carried over from the Xperia S and is a particularly useful feature.

A big part of the music experience with the Xperia T is Sony's own music ecosystem, Music Unlimited.

This offers an online store and you're reminded about it a great deal when using the phone.

For example, the bundled TrackID app works like Shazam, then enables you to link to Music Unlimited to buy it outright.

To be fair to Sony, it's an attractive service and easy to use - but then again, so is Spotify.

Plenty of sound formats are supported and all our test tracks played without difficulty.

Sony has also added in an Equaliser that enables you to tweak the sound to your liking, and 'xLoud' technology that boosts the volume of the Sony Xperia T's speaker up by 30 per cent.

Video

Sony Xperia T review

Watching video on the Xperia T works particularly well for two reasons.

The first is the 4.6-inch HD Reality Display that offers a respectable 1,280 x 720 resolution and a 323 ppi density.

For high definition content, this is certainly up there with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 in terms of clarity.

Even though counting pixels has become a bit of a moot point over the last year, this display is pin sharp and colour balance is well tuned.

The other reason why this is a good phone for watching video is the way the handset is constructed physically.

Because the Xperia T is slightly thicker at each end, you have a good way of gripping the phone in landscape mode for making the most of videos.

Sony Xperia T review

This also works well when gaming.

Not only that, but the bezel on the Xperia T is tiny and doesn't ever distract from the video that's playing.

Like the Walkman music player, the video application is straightforward and simple to get to grips with.

Each video is represented as a tile and clicking on gives you the option to either play the movie or look up relevant information via Gracenote.

You can also "Throw" a video onto a Sony Bravia Smart TV through your home Wi-Fi connection.

Most video formats from .mp4 to .avi and .xvid are supported on the native application with the Google Play store always offering alternatives as a back up.

Sony also has its own video store, Video Unlimited, which enables you to buy and rent movies but realistically, if you're already signed up with Google Play, it's unlikely you'll choose Sony's option.

Sony Xperia T review

Because the Sony Xperia T is only a dual-core smartphone, there's not the same power under the hood to handle the multiscreen trickery that has recently been seen in the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

It's not a massive omission as we're not exactly sure how many people actually want to condense a video already playing on a smartphone screen.

FM Radio

Sony Xperia T review

Ah, bless. The humble FM Radio makes a cameo appearance on the Sony Xperia T, and enables you to enjoy the likes of Radio 4 in the morning as you take the dog for a walk.

It requires headphones to work as the antenna and, it has to be said that this is largely window dressing when it comes to the phone's media selection.

With the likes of TuneIn Radio proving a perennial favourite on the Google Play Store, there's not much need for this really.

What might be better is for Sony (or Google) to develop a really killer native Podcast application.

Gaming

Gamers will undoubtedly be drawn to the Xperia T because of the PlayStation Certification.

This effectively enables you to play a range of old PSOne games on the handset with favourites such as Medievil and Cool Boarders providing plenty of cause for nostalgia.

That said - there's still not much more than a clutch full of old games. No doubt Sony is concentrating on getting PS Vita up to speed, but a few choice PSP games ported over would make this a much bigger deal. You'll also need to sign up with the PlayStation Network in order to get to these titles.

Of course, there's also the wealth of games available to download on the Google Play store that will also run well on the Xperia T's 4.6-inch screen.

The aforementioned grippable quality of the handset itself is good for gaming, even if you're not a fan of touchscreen controls.

Battery life and connectivity

Battery life

Sony Xperia T review

Tucked inside the Sony Xperia T is a standard Li-ion 1,850 mAh battery.

It's not as large as the 2,100 mAh monster inside the Samsung Galaxy S3 but then again the dual core processor doesn't require as much power as Samsung's quad-core offering.

The Sony Xperia T is a solid body phone, which means the battery can't be swapped out or changed.

On the one hand, we appreciate the slimness and the build quality, but it has to be said that not having the option to swap in a new battery is limiting.

If you're a regular traveller or heavy duty user we can definitely forgive you marking Sony down for this.

The Japanese company quotes the up to seven hours talk time and 450 hours of standby time with the Xperia T and we found this to be broadly in line with real-life usage.

You won't necessarily have to charge it every night, but if you do start to use the phone heavily – the battery will suffer.

Obviously heavy media use will kill the battery even quicker. Sony estimates the Xperia T will manage up to 16 hours of music playback and up to 5 hours of video playback, which we feel to be a bit optimistic. Video particularly seemed to drain the Xperia T down very quickly.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the big marketing point of the Xperia T is the inclusion of NFC (Near Field Communications), the same contactless technology already in use with Oyster cards (and notably not in use with the new iPhone).

Sony includes three Xperia NFC Tags with the Xperia T and these can be attached anywhere to quickly change the settings or profile of the handset with no more than a tap.

Sony Xperia T review

So, for example – if you put a tag in the car, you can swipe the Xperia T against it to automatically launch Bluetooth and pair to a hands-free kit for driving. Or place one at work for a quick swipe to silent mode.

Recently Sony has also shown off its NFC speaker. If your Xperia T is playing music, you can touch it to the speaker for an immediate transference of music.

Similarly, Android Beam enables you to swap pictures, notes, tracks or other data with another NFC-enabled Android handset by simply touching the two together.

Sony Xperia T review

Admittedly NFC is still in its infancy, and we don't expect it to be the deciding factor in purchasing a smartphone at the moment. And it also requires extra expenditure if you want to buy more Xperia tags or other accessories.

Where it will work well is with connections to Smart TVs and monitors, enabling you to view pictures and videos shot with the handset on a large screen.

The only wired port on the Xperia T is a micro USB slot on the left of the handset which handles both charging and PC transfer.

You can choose to install the Sony Xperia software suite onto your PC upon connection but because this is Android, file swapping is a simple drag-and-drop routine.

Maps and apps

Sony Xperia T review

Maps

Like the majority of Android handsets, the Xperia T comes with Google Maps out of the box.

Google Maps has long been the front-runner when it comes to navigation services on a smartphone and the Xperia T stays true to this.

It's nice and speedy when you load the app up to begin with and this continues when you call up a search for a landmark or directions.

The high definition screen renders the satellite view in good time and you won't notice a problem if you're sweeping around at length to get an idea of your surroundings.

Sony Xperia T review

Google's app boasts pretty effective turn-by-turn navigation as well as the option to switch on location-based services.

This rewards you with reviews of nearby pubs, restaurants and tourist attractions.

GPS accuracy didn't pose much of a problem.

We found that while out and about in London, the Sony Xperia T could nail down our position to pretty much within a few yards of our location.

The multi-touch capacitive screen enables you to use two fingers to zoom in and out of maps as well as rotate the display.

Apps

In terms of apps, the ever-growing Google Play store is there to cater to your every need.

Sony Xperia T review

Whether you want fitness apps, music apps, games or movies, the Google Play store has it all.

That's also its biggest downfall. Compared to the Apple iOS App Store, there's a lot of crap on Google Play that you'll need to sift through to get to the good stuff.

Thankfully, Google has measures in place to help you around this.

The Editor's Choice selection takes you to a shortlist of quality or addictive apps that are doing the rounds and a quick swipe left or right will take you to the best selling free or paid-for apps.

New apps are also highlighted on the Google Play home page, so you can see the latest additions to the market each time you log in.

Sony Xperia T review

Sony bundled a number of first-party apps, such as the TrackID app, onto the Xperia T right from the off.

You've got a QR Reader, Media Remote (for controlling a Sony telly), WisePilot (a navigation tool not as good as Google Maps) and Sony Select (Sony's version of the Google Play Store) among others.

Unless you're heavily into the Sony ecosystem already these apps don't offer much in the way of new experiences.

Particularly if you've used Android before, chances are you'll have profiles and favourites stored on other Google Play apps that you'll want to continue to use.

It's a bit of a problem for Sony because, although it has all this excellent IP to draw on in terms of Walkman and PlayStation – we feel its offering it at a time when many users have already made commitments to the established players.

Sony Xperia T review

It's not all completely useless: Power Saver is a friendly-looking little app that allows you to quickly alter the behaviour of different parts of the Xperia T to prolong the battery.

There are also the usual Android apps such as Google+ and Movie Studio, as well as the native YouTube app that you can jump into straight away.

Play Movies and Play Books are both here as standard, enabling you to get your movie or ereading fix through Google's massive catalogue.

Apps have and will continue to be one of the most important parts of a smartphone, but it's safe to say that the Google Play store, while once behind, has caught up with Apple in terms of offering pretty much everything you could need.

Official gallery

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Verdict

Sony has produced another impressive smartphone that offers the functionality and performance we're looking for in a top-level handset.

That being said, when compared with the earlier Sony Xperia S, or some of the other flagship Android handsets, the difference is negligible.

And it's now been usurped by the Sony Xperia Z, which is a much better phone, albeit far more expensive and larger to hold.

On the other hand, if you're looking for your first smartphone or hitting the end of a two-year contract this is an excellent choice.

It's got the looks and the performance to turn heads, and with Android 4.1.2 now on the device everything runs a lot more smoothly.

We liked

The Xperia T is, in our opinion a good looking and functional smartphone. We're not just throwing that out there because of the James Bond connection, but in fact Sony has long been turning out attractive gadgets.

The glossy black front and silver aluminium back give it a stylish, premium look and the sculpted back keeps the handset thin while giving you a good grip when you use the device in landscape mode.

The thin bezel is great for watching movies and playing games. Speaking of games – the option to supplement Google Play with PlayStation Classics is always going to win points in our book.

Despite opting for a dual core processor over a quad core option, the Xperia T doesn't lag and navigating the interface is smooth and easy.

Apps load up quickly and the Timescape skin differentiates this from other Android handsets.

Probably the standout feature is the combination of the 13MP camera and the Reality Display Bravia screen. While the screen attracts dust and debris like nobody's business, it's also impressively bright with excellent colour reproduction.

Similarly the camera produces some great pictures and could effectively replace your compact for those quick, point-and-shoot pictures.

The addition of the quick-capture feature is a nice one and, although we could have done with a few extra modes and features - the camera is a standout part of this smartphone.

We disliked

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The Sony Xperia T only packs in 16GB of storage space. Considering the older Xperia S had 32GB of space this feels like a step back.

While we're on the subject of the Xperia S, that smartphone has many of the same specs and features as the Xperia T. Sony appears to have handed us an iPhone 4 to 4S-type of update - which is to say evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

The screen resolution and processors are virtually identical and so are many of the first party apps and media players.

What has changed slightly is the size, weight and shape of the phone – all for the better but not enough to really demand a purchase.

While Sony is busy hyping up the NFC compatibility, we're not sure the average user will find much of a use for it.

That's not to say it's a pointless feature, but it has yet to really show us a killer reason to choose an NFC-powered phone over a non-NFC handset.

As a side note, if you're heavily into the Sony ecosystem – that is you have a Bravia TV, PlayStation 3 or Vaio laptop, you'll benefit from some of the interconnectivity that Sony is finally starting to implement.

Final verdict

The Sony Xperia T is a very, very good phone. Everything about it is slick and well-executed and the performance is certainly what we expect from a now-£300 device.

However, the Sony Xperia S was a very, very good phone, and the Xperia Z is also a very, very good phone. When a new model comes out, we look for it to improve upon the previous one and unfortunately, hand on heart; this doesn't improve on the last generation of smartphones as much as it should - and pales in comparison to its successor.

Admittedly, it's not about simply ramming higher specs into a thinner and lighter phone – we've moved past that now. But it should be about offering a fresh experience with new features and offering us a die hard reason to shell out for an upgrade.

But with the lower price it's now a real find, and we urge you to check it out if you're not after one of 'them expensive phones'.

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