Sony Xperia P review

Reviews Ben Griffin 14:28, 28 May 2012

We review the Sony Xperia P, a mid-range Android 2.3 device with excellent HDMI capabilities

Rating: 
4
Pros: 
Excellent display, HDMI, Feels like a premium device, More intuitive to use than the Xperia S
Cons: 
Display could be a tad brighter, Android 2.3 is starting to feel a little dated
Verdict: 
If the Xperia S just isn't within your budget, you will find the Xperia P nearly as capable - providing you can put up with Android Gingerbread

Towards the end of Sony Ericsson's life the brand began producing some rather excellant phones, like the Xperia Arc S. But it wasn't enough to save the brand – change was required, and change was implemented. And we said goodbye to Sony Ericssin and hello to Sony.

Fortunately Sony has kept the Xperia range alive in the form of three new devices: the top-end Xperia S, the mid-range Xperia P on review today and the budget Xperia U.

Aesthetics

Although the Arc S was a great piece of kit when it first arrived, it did start to feel a little dated when compared with other Android luminaries like the Galaxy S2 for instance.

Sony must have sensed this and evolved its design language into something altogether more contemporary, resulting in a squared-off device with some interesting design choices like clear cut-through section that's located just below the display.

On the back of the aluminium unibody case is the camera with flash. A subtle Sony Ericsson logo sits towards the bottom, rather oddly. Perhaps this is just a nod to the device's heritage?

The backpanel is curved making it comfortable to hold and bringing a premium feel to the device. Buttons for adjusting the volume and powering on/locking the screen feel equally sturdy. All in the Xperia P exudes an aura of quality and strength.

The black version of the Xperia S does show up dust and smudges but it's not a big issue when the form factor is as good as it is – there's barely any plastic in sight.

Rounding off the external design is a rubbery cover for the SIM card, which does feel a little exposed but does make life handy. This is, of course, because the battery can't be removed.

Annoyingly, the mini-USB charger sits on the left so rule out using docking stations, especially if you are using the HDMI connection located below.

We did notice a slight breakage in the clear plastic on the right side, but it wasn't too noticeable. We hope this was damage we failed to see when it arrived and not a general fault.

Hardware

The Xperia P is powered by a 1Ghz dual core Cortex A9 NovaThor U8500. Performance is good but it's no way near the level we found on Sony's top-tier Xperia S.

This is especially noticeable when sticking with the Sony Xperia user-interface extras like Timeline. On the Xperia S they operated quickly enough to leave them be. On the Xperia P, however, we were itching to load up Launcher Ex or an equivalent to make things a little faster when navigating the phone's home screens.

A little jerky it may be, but loading apps and the browser is quickly done, making it seem like Sony's overlayed user-interface is more juice-heavy than the rest of Android, which was often the case on previous Xperia devices.

You get 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and no microSD card support, unfortunately.

Display

Sony's Xperia S is leading the pack at the moment with its pixel density of 342ppi – the iPhone 4S and its Retina Display sits at 326ppi. The Xperia P is by no means going to challenge either with its 4-inch 540x960 pixel screen, which yields a respectable score of 275ppi.

Loading up Hexage's Radiant Defense, the colours really appear bright and are a sight to behold. It's not as detailed as the Xperia S but the quality is still excellent and above that of most mid-range devices, and even some of the top-end ones.

We did find the screen a little more suspectible to reflections but this can easily be attributed to the incredibly sunny weather the UK has been enjoying. We've yet to test a smartphone that works well in very bright conditions so the Xperia P isn't alone.

A tad more brightness would've been nice, though.

Camera and video

The 8-megapixel camera on the Xperia P is very capable. There's a slight tendency to oversaturate but the detail is top-notch and the ability to zoom with the volume buttons is a nice extra.

Being able to quickly jump to taking a photo by holding the camera hardware button also proves as useful as it is functional. As an added bonus, you can use this shortcut even when the device is locked, saving even more time.

There's no option to adjust photos and add those oh-so popular filters everyone keeps using but there are plenty of apps out there, including Instagram, to do that for you.

Video is advertised as 1080p, which means the bar is quite high even though we've seen very few devices actually live up to the claim. Video quality is actually quite good, so long as you're not expecting it to replace your compact.

The camera quickly readjusts to faces and objects of varying distances away, while managing to keep too much or too little light from over or under-saturating the subject.

We certainly think the Xperia S and its 12-megapixel snapper is better but the Xperia P isn't that far behind and definitely above average. It's not quite Galaxy S2 quality but this isn't a flagship product.

Specifications

Typical Price £300
UK Launch January 2012
Frequency GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Phone Style Candy bar
Thickness 10.5mm
Length 122mm
Width 59.5mm
Weight 120g
Built-in Memory 16GB (13GB usable)
Additional Memory None, no card slot
High-speed Data HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 - LT22i
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Hotspot, HDMI, HSDPA, HSUPA, DLNA, Bluetooth
Screen Size 4-inch 540x960 pixels (275ppi)
Screen Colours 16 million
Camera 8-megapixel
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 3264x2448 pixels
Zoom Yes, 4x
Flash LED
Video Resolution 1080p@30 frames per second
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV player
Song Storage 13GB
Radio Stereo FM with RDS
Speaker Yes
Video Calling Yes
Internet Yes
Browser HTML 5, Adobe Flash
Games No

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