Sony Xperia T review: T-rex

GSMArena team, 24 September 2012.
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Optimized Xperia UI on Ice Cream Sandwich

The Sony Xperia T runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich out of box but Sony is promising an update to Jelly Bean. On top of Android runs the custom Sony launcher, so the interface doesn't feel too different from what Sony users are used to. This isn't the first time we've seen ICS on a Sony device either, but this time it seems that Sony have put together an excellent software package. It has enough of the traditional Android UI so you won't feel lost, as well as a couple of new features that might raise a few eyebrows.

Here's a brief video tour of the interface to give you an idea:

The Xperia T has the usual five-pane homescreen configuration, but there is no option to add or remove panes. Along the bottom, there are five docked shortcuts (the app drawer shortcut and two on each of its sides). These are visible across all five homescreen panes and are user configurable: they can be either single icons or folders with multiple items in them. For folders, you get smaller icons of the first four items in them.

As with older Sony smartphones, you can change the color theme of the launcher according to your preferences.

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The Sony Xperia T UI • Choosing theme • Folders

The homescreen does a neat trick called Overview mode, which lets you quickly find a widget across any of your homescreen panes. Pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new screen opens up showing all active widgets for easy viewing and selection. Tapping on a widget takes you directly to the homescreen that it is on.

Sony Xperia T
Overview mode helps you find the widget you are looking for

The Xperia T has some custom-made Sony widgets in addition to the standard set. Those include the Timescape widget (there's a dedicated app too) and a Mediascape-like widget for photos and videos (the actual app isn't there anymore, but the Album gallery is).

Pressing on an empty area of a homescreen opens up a small contextual menu under the status bar. It gives you two options - choosing a widget and choosing a wallpaper/theme. It's oddly placed and easy to miss at first because the animation is so understated it looks as if nothing has happened.

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The new personalize menu is a lot less obtrusive • Choosing a widget • The wallpaper menu

Moving and removing widgets hasn't changed and is as simple as on droids of old - hold a finger over a desired widget and move it around. The action has a cool wobble animation to it.

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Moving and deleting widgets

A cool new addition to the lockscreen, missing from the Xperia phones of old, is the Walkman widget which lets you control music playback without unlocking the phone. You can also enable Face, Pattern, PIN or Password unlock, in ascending order of security.

The standard notification area is also present, and features a few added connectivity toggles. There's also a quick shortcut to the settings menu. For some reason, the notification area isn't accessible from the lockscreen as it usually is on other ICS-running Xperia phones.

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The lockscreen • Lockscreen options • The notification area now has a few connectivity shortcuts

There's also a brand new task manager, which still lets you go to open apps as well as remove them with a side-swipe, but also introduces something we haven't seen in Sony ICS before, and that's 'small apps'. They are similar to Mini Apps from Samsung, and pop up tiny widget-like applications on your homescreen, which you can move around and use without having to fully open a dedicated app. So far, there's a default set of four: Calculator, Timer, Notes, and Voice Recorder - and it looks like you should be able to stock up on some more from the Play Store as well.

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The updated task manager now features 'small apps' • The Timer small app

As a part of the ICS platform you get the Data usage app. Sony provided one on Gingerbread as well, but this one is far more accurate in calculating your traffic. It also lets you set a limit for network data for a specific period and usage is broken down by apps.

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Data usage app

Sony has added its own Backup & Reset feature for Android ICS. It works for apps you've uninstalled and then reinstalled again, restoring them with the previous saved settings. The reset option is in the same submenu.

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Backup & reset

Sony has made a lot of improvements to its ICS build - like the notification area toggles, but it's still missing a few extras that are some that other OEMs are opting for. For example, Samsung has a Remove all feature when you open the task switcher, and most Android UI's let you adjust the number of homescreen panes.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Sony Xperia T is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon chipset, which packs two 1.5 GHz Krait cores and 1 GB of RAM and an Adreno 225 GPU. Altogether a pretty solid configuration, and we're eager to see how it stands up against the competition.

We begin with the Quadrant benchmark where the Xperia T did its best against mostly quad-core competition. We got slightly worse results here than what we got from the device when we tested it at its unveiling at the IFA trade show a few months back.

Quadrant

Higher is better

  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    5952
  • Sony Xperia TX
    5793
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    5365
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    5170
  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    5126
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    4814
  • Sony Xperia T
    4774
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    4178
  • Motorola RAZR i
    4125

BenchmarkPi shows just about the same numbers we saw at IFA. The just-announced Motorola DROID RAZR M houses the same 1.5 GHz Krait as the Xperia T, so it's no surprise that these two devices top our standings.

BenchmarkPi

Lower is better

  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    264
  • Sony Xperia T
    269
  • Sony Xperia V
    286
  • Sony Xperia TX
    289
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    294
  • HTC One S
    306
  • HTC One X
    330
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    344
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    402
  • Motorola RAZR i
    534

This trend continues with Linpack, though neither device was able to surpass the (Krait-powered) HTC One S. Nevertheless, the results at the top of the pack are very close.

Linpack

Higher is better

  • HTC One S
    210.0
  • Sony Xperia T
    198.9
  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    188.9
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    186.4
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    177.1
  • HTC One X
    160.9
  • Motorola RAZR i
    108.5
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    51.2

Geekbench 2 is a CPU and memory benchmark that is optimized for multi-core environments. Again, the Xperia T couldn't get away from some tough quad-core competition, but still managed to do well for a dual-core.

Geekbench 2

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1845
  • LG Optimus G
    1723
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1661
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    1634
  • Sony Xperia T
    1625
  • iPhone 5
    1601
  • HTC One S
    1589

GLBenchmark tests GPU performance in a graphics stress test. While the superiority of quad-core devices in graphics performance really came to light, the 55 fps the Xperia T scored is certainly not a bad result, especially considering the HD resolution it has to deal with.

GLBenchmark 2.1 Egypt (offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    103
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    80
  • HTC One X (Tegra 3)
    64
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    61
  • Sony Xperia T
    55

The JavaScript browser performance tests tell a slightly different story, however, as the Xperia T found itself right around midtable in both SunSpider and BrowserMark. We expect scores to improve slightly with an eventual Jelly Bean update, which is a performance boost for the Android browser.

SunSpider

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    972
  • Motorola RAZR i
    1043
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    1304
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1446
  • HTC One X
    1468
  • Sony Xperia T
    1608
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    1647
  • HTC One S
    1708
  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    1861
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    2136

BrowserMark

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    185034
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
    169811
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    147582
  • HTC One X
    140270
  • Motorola RAZR i
    129562
  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    113620
  • Sony Xperia T
    111265
  • Motorola Atrix HD
    107535
  • HTC One S
    98435
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    92653

With the exception of graphics performance and web browsing, the Sony Xperia T showed some truly great numbers. We were worried that the choice of a dual-core device to headline the Xperia lineup was going to spell trouble for Sony when comparing the T to other flagships, but the dual-core Krait really flies. Still, if you demand the best 3D mobile gaming performance, there are better devices available.

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