Review: Sony Xperia Tipo

27 Nov 20121 Share

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Sony’s affordable entry-level smartphone, the Xperia Tipo, packs decent specs for its €79 price tag. But how did this smart device for beginners fare with a smartphone novice, and did it make him a convert?

Look and feel

The Xperia Tipo is a compact little number with a 3.2-inch display sporting 320 x 480 resolution. The durable screen is made from scratch-resistant mineral glass and the casing has an attractive matte quality available in red, white, blue or black, and an inviting curved design, making it stand out from the sharper-edged high-end Xperia devices.

While the compact size is very pocket friendly, it’s not the most text-friendly device. Typing can be tricky as the display offers fairly small real estate whether in portrait or landscape mode. Input methods like Swype and predictive text do help to make this easier, though.

Small, but powerful

A huge positive for those upgrading from a feature phone or older mobile phone is that the 1,500mAh battery on the Xperia Tipo could easily last for two days provided you aren’t watching video 24/7, so the shock of quickly draining battery power won’t be too much to bear.

For €79, though, you’re not going to get high-end camera specifications and the 3.2MP rear camera on the Tipo is nothing to write home about. Photographs in low light are off the table without a flash to brighten things up, and video calls aren’t likely as there is no front-facing camera.

Sony Xperia Tipo

Where the Tipo delivers, though, is in giving entry-level users an 800MHz Qualcomm processor running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This means the Tipo may be small and inexpensive, but it’s certainly powerful enough for general browsing and other activities new smartphone users will want to get on with.

In terms of audio, you get the clear sound you expect from Sony’s xLOUD audio technology, and the built-in speaker performs well for such a small device. However, the recessed headphone jack posed some problems in that sometimes the device did not recognise that headphones had been connected, continuing to play audio through the speaker, and other times it didn’t recognise that the headphones had been removed – which was particularly difficult if it happened when trying to take a call.

The test

To be sure the Tipo was a suitable entry-level device, we gave it to a smartphone novice to try out. Our guinea pig had never before used a smartphone, nor had he any interest in purchasing one. However, he liked the compact design of the Tipo and was happy to give it a go.

We left our tester to his own devices to see how he got on switching to a smartphone interface, and though he admits he didn’t grasp everything immediately, he claims that within 30 minutes of use he had figured how to do most of the things he wanted.

With the help of a set-up guide to help new users along, the Tipo is well suited to a novice in terms of usability. Our tester was particularly impressed by the clarity and brightness of the display, and video playback was fairly consistent with infrequent stalling.

The touchscreen on the Tipo presented some issues in that it wasn’t always responsive to gestures, particularly in one spot on the bottom right. This could be very frustrating for users taking on a touchscreen device for the first time and could deter them completely.

Verdict

Despite its faults, I would happily recommend the Sony Xperia Tipo to users considering upgrading to a smartphone but not willing to break the bank. For what you pay for, the Tipo delivers, and I think it would be tough to find better performance at such a low price.

Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com