Ian Knott has been commentating on various forms of technology for the past 16 years. He’s had columns on gadgets, gaming, computing and digital entertainment in many newspapers, magazines and websites in New Zealand and overseas.
Since paying out Ericsson in a divorce settlement, Sony is travelling alone in the smartphone stakes. Its first solo effort is the Xperia NXT series – a range of three phones from the high-end Xperia S, which sits proudly side by side with the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the mid-range Xperia P and the more affordable sibling – the Xperia U.
I got to take the Xperia P for a test drive and despite having an ever-present bad taste in my mouth from reviewing way too many Sony Ericsson Symbian-powered phones in the past, I found the Xperia P an absolute joy to use.
Google’s Gingerbread Android 2.3 operating system runs beautifully on the Xperia P, but the unit is fully upgradable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The price point and size of the handset places it head to head with Nokia’s Lumia 800 Windows phone. But there are several redeeming features hiding within the Xperia P that boost the model above its immediate rivals.
At 120g, the phone is no lightweight and at 10.5mm thick the sensation in the hand is a solid one. There’s no flexing or creaking when the phone is put under reasonable pressures, unlike the Samsung Galaxy range which feel like they could snap at any moment.
The scratch resistant screen holds up to the rigors of daily use very well, but the plastic framing around the Xperia P will soon start to show the knocks and scratches. There is also a small gap\groove separating the screen from the casing – which is probably the most disappointing design flaw.
If you’re like me and keep your mobile in your pocket for much of the day, then this groove will soon become a collector of fluff, lint and dust, further tarnishing the otherwise slick aesthetics.
Speaking of slick aesthetics, the crystal clear strip that encompasses the standard three home, back and menu buttons is a stunning inclusion. Even for an old cynical tech-head like myself, this pressure sensitive strip had me grinning in appreciation.
The more you use the Xperia P, the more the built-in handy features begin to integrate themselves into your everyday life.
Clever NFC capabilities allow your phone to be used with the latest tap-compliant technology where just a touch of your phone will pay for services or acquire information from a vendor – something that will become increasingly more common in times to come.
The Xperia P also comes with four SmartTags – which can be programmed to do almost anything. Keep one beside the bed, one in the car, one at the office and simply touching them with your phone will activate preset commands. Starting up GPS navigation in the car and activating Bluetooth, or turning on WiFi when you get into the office and opening emails or reminders. They’re a clever innovation that can save a lot of time if your average day is dominated by digital devices.
The 8MP rear camera is as good as the industry topping high-end devices, but the inferior front camera is nothing to be proud of. The inclusion of a mini HDMI port next to the standard mini USB is a great touch, allowing the full 1080p video taken on your phone to be easily transferred to your TV.
The Xperia P displays features that many more expensive phones would be envious of – and at just $649 (exclusive to Vodafone) will no doubt prove to be the mid-priced smartphone of choice to future-proof your mobile phone usage.