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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sony Xperia tipo

Sony Xperia tipo comes to the budget friendly market and even it represents pretty cheap device it offers nice features. This device is ideal for people that are not chasing high end performances and flagship devices.
Aesthetics and design
The tipo (yep, that’s a lower case ‘t’ in there), is a tiny phone, designed for small hands. If you’re a bit of a monster-digit then you might want to steer clear. The small handset will fit nicely in the pocket though, being 103 x 57 x 13 mm in size and its weight of 99.4g won’t weigh you down.
For all its low cost Sony has thought a bit about the look and feel, and the tapering of the edges inwards is a neat touch and makes a change from blockier designs. The inward curve arguably makes the phone a bit more comfy to hold than straight-sided phones too.
There’s also a little lip of bright shiny plastic beneath the three touch-sensitive shortcut buttons under the screen that takes the phone away from being a rectangular monolith.
Build quality isn’t bad. Yes the phone flexes slightly if forced, but it feels quite solid for all that. And Sony has mounted the headset slot where it should be on the top edge to keep music lovers happy. So far, then, so good.
A small phone inevitably means a small screen, and this is a bit of a problem especially when it is low resolution too. The screen here measures 3.2 inches and it has 320 x 480 pixels. Reading web pages isn’t the most rewarding experience as you have to do a lot of scrolling. Watching video is less enjoyable than it could be too. Tapping at the keyboard is tricky if you’ve larger hands.
That’s not our only gripe with the screen either. It seemed to be a bit reluctant to respond to taps sometimes. This wasn’t so bad as to really irritate, but every now and again a tapped icon failed to react, and we felt irked.
A phone that costs £126 isn’t going to have earth shatteringly good hardware, but the mix needs to be serviceable. What you get here is an 800MHz Qualcomm processor which is supported by 512MB of RAM. It does OK, but isn’t blistering – which is what you’d expect really.
We did find that sometimes apps were a bit slow to load, and some YouTube clips took their time to render and play too. But it is nothing beyond what’s to be expected for a handset at this price.
What did irritate us was a memory expansion issue. With just 2.5GB of built in storage you’ll need a microSD card and the slot is under the battery. If you like adding data such as music by swapping cards in and out, then the need to power down first will become a pain.
And you just might want to swap microSD cards in this way, because probably one of the key strengths of the Xperia tipo is its music playback.
This handset sports Sony’s xLOUD audio technology. That, says Sony, is designed to deliver crisp and loud sound. It’s certainly loud. Louder than we’re used to from any mobile phone. Music quality is good too, with tinny tones coming in at the top volume levels but overall impressive quality being delivered.
Camera and video
There’s a crunch when it comes to the camera though. A 3.2 megapixel flashless shooter with video limited to VGA quality isn’t exactly going to light up the world. Snap quality is so-so and while there are a couple of scene modes (beach and snow, night, sports), the controls are generally lacklustre.
In general we’d say the camera is OK for shots and video you want to keep on the handset for fun, but if you have any intention of using the media you capture elsewhere, get a proper camera.
Operating system and software
Android 4.0 is not to be sniffed at and it is great that Sony has managed to cram it into this small, low cost phone. There’s no word on an upgrade to 4.1 Jelly Bean though, so purchasers might not be at the top of the OS tree for long.
Sony’s skin is fairly harmless. There’s none of the corner-icon business that made the teeny Xperia X10 mini so alluring and things feel intuitive and easy to get at.
There are a couple of useful apps in the form of a battery life extender called Power Save and a neat utility called LiveWare. The latter lets you configure specific apps to start when you plug in headphones, charger or a headset. How convenient, for example, would it be to plug in a headset and have the dialler fire up automatically?
Power Save lets you set the phone up to shut off certain functions, say Wi-Fi or vibrate, to help eek that little bit more battery life out of the handset. It can be set to kick in when the battery gets down to a pre-set level, or at certain times of the day, or even just when you manually choose it.
Final thoughts
The Sony Xperia tipo might seem like a very attractively priced handset and indeed the lure of Android 4.0 for £126 is great. But be sure the other good things about this phone are what you want. Music? Check. Web browsing? Not so good.

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