Sony Xperia P review

23 Jul 2012

A capable mid-range handset with few flaws, but the competition is strong at this price

Price when reviewed: 
267SIM-free, £267more
Buy it now for 
4

After dropping the Ericsson brand for the Xperia S, Sony’s next release is the mid-range Xperia P. They’re similar in design, with the same see-through bar at the bottom for the back, home and menu symbols, only this time they’re actual buttons. Build quality is fine throughout, and our only design criticism is the inability to replace the battery or upgrade storage.

The 4in screen will suit those who find today’s flagships too large. The resolution of 540 x 960 is the same as the HTC One S, and results in extremely sharp text and images – the 275ppi means pixels are only visible if you look very closely. The maximum brightness of 911cd/m[sup]2[/sup] is very high, virtually searing our retinas before we lowered it. The contrast ratio of 746:1 is good, although black levels could be lower.

Sony Xperia P

Sony has made some compromises to keep the Xperia P affordable. It has a slower 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor than the Xperia S, and instead of Nvidia’s Tegra 3 it boats the Mali 400MP, the same graphics hardware as the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Benchmark performance was therefore a mix. A Quadrant score of 1,716 is nowhere near the fastest we’ve tested, but it’s better than other mid-range phones. A SunSpider time of 3,008ms is also around half the speed of the best handsets. On the gaming side, while Grand Theft Auto III and Reckless Racing II played flawlessly, demanding FPS ShadowGun juddered during intensive scenes. Battery life was average, with 50% of the power pack left after our 24hr test.

It comes with Android 2.3, rather than Ice Cream Sandwich, although Sony has promised to upgrade all of its Xperia phones by the end of July. Sony’s own software is capable, and much of the crapware has been removed, but it’s not as clean as HTC Sense or as innovative as Samsung’s TouchWiz. Many of the Sony widgets just point to its online stores.

Sony Xperia P

The Xperia P has an 8mp camera. Wide shots from it were sharp and colours accurate throughout, if a little lacking in warmth. Issues were minor: close-ups exhibited a little noise, especially in low light, and the lens struggled to retain clarity in bright settings. Still, these won’t stop most users taking perfectly good pictures.

All told, the Xperia P is a fine mid-range handset, but its problem is the competition. HTC’s One S costs around the same but is much faster, and we prefer its software, camera and screen. If the current flagship phones are too expensive, the One S would still be our mid-range choice.

Details

Price ex VAT £223
Price inc VAT SIM-free, £267; Free, £20/mth on a 24mth contract
Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £20.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider Mobiles.co.uk
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4

Physical

Dimensions 60 x 122 x 11mm (WDH)
Weight 120g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.0in
Resolution 540 x 960
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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