We go hands on with new Sony phones and tablet
Sony revealed three new Xperia smartphones and an Xperia-brand Android tablet at its press conference in sunny Berlin this afternoon, with no other than James Bond himself rocking the new flagship phone in upcoming film Skyfall.
The new devices were unveiled by Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai during the packed IFA conference, and we had the chance to go hands-on straight after...
The new mobiles are called (from largest to smallest) Xperia T and TX (4.6-inch), Xperia V (4.3-inch) and Xperia J (four-inch with five-megapixel camera). Here’s the full skinny.
Sony Xperia T and Xperia TX
The Sony Xperia T is the big boy of the new bunch, rocking a 4.6-inch screen powered by the Mobile BRAVIA engine. At first glance it’s your typical Xperia smartphone, with a straight rectangular build. The Xperia branding adorns the lip of the mobile, but the touch-sensitive buttons featured on the Sony Xperia S, P and U are gone. That’s because the Xperia T comes with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, which uses virtual on-screen Home, Back and Menu buttons instead. The end result is a more compact mobile with greater screen space – definitely a good thing.
One of the main selling points of the Xperia T is the uber-sharp 13-megapixel camera. This smart shooter boasts a ‘Sleep-to-snap’ feature which takes a photo in just over a second from hibernation, so you won’t miss that magical moment when your dog takes a leak on your neighbour’s car. With the phone in standby, simply hold down the physical shutter button on the right side of the Xperia T. You’ll feel a short vibration, and after a very short pause the screen pops up with the camera app loaded, and your photo has already been taken (you’ll see a tiny preview of it in the corner of the screen).
There are plenty of options for tweaking your snaps and sharing with friends, and our test shots came out impressively sharp, even in the dingy interior. Here’s one shot we took from across the demo stand, zoomed right in. Again, considering the low light, the level of detail is impressive.
Built-in NFC was bigged up by Kazuo during his presentation, and he gave an example of sharing files with other NFC phones with a simple tap. You can also connect to wireless NFC headphones at a touch, for listening to your music on the move, or an NFC speaker to share your media with others.
The Xperia T is a dual-core beast so Android Ice Cream Sandwich runs like a dream, with smooth transitions between desktops and menus. That 4.6-inch screen is colourful and crisp with excellent viewing angles, and we were bowled over by the new Skyfall trailer, which looked simply stunning. The touch-screen is also perfectly responsive, with no hint of lag.
Sony is also releasing an Xperia TX version of the mobile, which packs the same specs but a slightly different design, with a metallic band that wraps around the outside.
Sony Xperia V and J
The Xperia V is the next model down in size, at 4.3 inches, while the Xperia J rounds them off at four inches. The Xperia V is similar in appearance to the Xperia T, but without the Xperia branding on the lip. It also runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and boasts extreme resilience to water – as we saw when Sony decided to stick it into a mini waterfall.
The 13-megapixel camera is just as impressive at first try as the Xperia T’s, producing sharp images. As far as we could see it boasts all of the same features too, apart from the ‘Sleep-to-snap’ – sadly the Xperia V is lacking a physical shutter button, so this is not possible. Still, we love the sleek curvy design and the display certainly seems to be almost as sharp as its bigger brother’s.
The Xperia J is a little bit smaller at four inches and reminds us of the earlier Xperia mobiles, thanks to its touch-sensitive Home, Back and Menu buttons (a necessity thanks to the Gingerbread OS). It’s a little fatter than the other phones, and the camera is only a basic five-megapixel effort – but the screen is still crisp and colourful. We also like the funky range of colours:
Unfortunately the single-core processor seemed to struggle at times, slowing down when we were flicking between photos. We’re expecting a low price point to tempt smartphone newbies to join the Xperia clan.
Sony Xperia S Tablet
The Xperia S Tablet was strangely glossed over in Sony’s press conference, but the brief glimpse we grabbed showed a similarly funky design to the Sony Tablet S released last year. Fortunately we got to go hands-on with it and immediately took to the slimline design.
It’s impressively light and thin, certainly lighter and slimmer than the Tablet S, but once again features that ‘folded page’ look, with the left edge curling around into the back. This helps to weight it in your favour when you’re holding it in portrait mode. The aluminium back feels solid and looks the biz, and the tablet is splash-proof so can be used in the rain.
The Xperia S Tablet’s 10.1-inch screen features a 1280x800 resolution and the trailers we checked out looked on the money. Viewing angles are once again strong, with vibrant colour reproduction. We had a quick bash on some Nvidia games also, and were quickly smashed apart by alien hordes as usual – but not before noting the excellent frame rates and crisp graphics.
With Android Ice Cream Sandwich running the show, the UI is as sleek as you’d expect. Sony’s lightning background makes an appearance, but the rest of the UI is very familiar to Ice Cream fans. You get a front-facing and a rear-facing camera for taking snaps.
The Sony Xperia Tablet S should appeal to anyone who’s after an Android tab that’s a little bit sleeker and different to the norm, especially media fans.
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