Sony Xperia tipo review: Mini just got bigger

GSMArena team, 21 September 2012.
Pages: 12345678910

Ice Cream Sandwich styled by Sony

The Sony Xperia tipo runs Android 4.0 out of box, and is among the first Xperia's that didn't have to wait to get Ice Cream Sandwich. The jump from Gingerbread hasn't been that drastic for Sony devices, particularly because the interface is still covered head to toe by the custom skin that Sony used to style Android ever since Gingerbread.

The Sony Xperia tipo has the usual five-pane homescreen configuration, without an option to add or remove panes. There are four docked shortcuts (two on either side of the launcher shortcut). These are visible on all five homescreen panes and are user configurable: they can be either single icons or folders with multiple items in them.

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The Sony Xperia tipo UI

Speaking of folders, one of the differences is that they're now displayed a bit differently - they show thumbnails of the first four items in them. Not a major change, but gives you quick peek of what's inside.

The homescreen does a neat trick called Overview mode. Pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new screen opens up with a cool transition. All active widgets are displayed in a type of floating cloud, and selecting one takes you to the homescreen where that widget is located.

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

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

Adding a widget is done through a special scrollable interface which displays all available widgets. To browse through them, you have to scroll up or down and tap on the one you want, which places it on your currently selected homescreen. To remove it, simply hold and drag the widget to the trashcan icon which appears on the bottom of the screen.

The widget selector can be a little tedious if you're trying to go to a specific widget, but is a great way to see what you have available to you.

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Widgets menu Selecting and adding widgets

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

The standard notification area is present and accounted for, although for some reason it isn't accessible from the lockscreen as it usually is on ICS (and on other ICS-running Xperia phones).

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The lockscreen Lockscreen options The standard notification area

Synthetic benchmarks

The Sony Xperia tipo runs on a Qualcomm MSM7225AA Snapdragon chipset, which packs a 800MHz Cortex-A5, 512MB of RAM and an Adreno 200 GPU. The sub-1GHz processor initially may seem like a major downer, but in reality it performs quite well - the ICS runs smoothly with no major holdups and there's isn't much more you can ask for in the budget smartphone category.

Let's take a look at how the tipo stacks up against the competition.

Our first test is BenchmarkPi, which tests CPU computing power. Naturally, the 800MHz processor struggled against the more robust offerings in the Xperia line, but outdoes the older Galaxy Ace Plus.

BenchmarkPi

Lower is better

  • Sony Xperia go
    543
  • Sony Xperia sola
    551
  • LG Optimus L7
    773
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    987
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus
    1037

Linpack is another processor test, and the tipo does very well against devices in its class. The only other close competitor is the HTC One V, which also sports a single core processor, except of the 1 GHz variety.

Linpack

Higher is better

  • HTC One V
    34.4
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    32.63
  • LG Optimus L7
    25.4
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    19.9
  • HTC Explorer
    15.8
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    10.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Y Duos
    10.3
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace
    9.9

SunSpider tests JavaScript performance in web browsing, and with the ICS optimizations we see that the tipo doing very well against some of the Gingerbread droids.

SunSpider

Lower is better

  • HTC One V
    3299
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    3531
  • LG Optimus L7
    3661
  • HTC Sensation XE
    4404
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    5911
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace
    9061
  • HTC Explorer
    10784
  • Samsung Galaxy Y Duos
    11966
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    12105

BrowserMark throws HTML5 into the mix, to see how future-proof the tipo is. Scoring second best, the tipo really shines in the budget class.

BrowserMark

Higher is better

  • LG Optimus L7
    61470
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    54938
  • HTC One V
    42342
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    33994
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace
    27844
  • HTC Explorer
    22464
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    20338
  • Samsung Galaxy Y Duos
    19634

Nenamark 2 is our graphics benchmark and here is where the tipo shows a result more in line with a budget offering. While 15.9 fps is enough for third place, it is hardly a result which is acceptable for gaming.

NenaMark 2

Higher is better

  • HTC Sensation XE
    23.0
  • LG Optimus L7
    19.3
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    15.9
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    15.4
  • HTC Explorer
    15.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Y Duos
    13.2
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    12.9
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace
    12.0

The ICS optimizations Sony has cooked into the Xperia tipo really do it justice - perhaps the long wait for it to provide an Android 4.0 version really was worth it. When looking at the tipo next to the mini 2 from Samsung, a device with virtually the same specifications, we can see that the tipo beat it handily in every category. It's a pleasant surprise to see how much performance Sony has been able to crank out of that 800 MHz processor.

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