Sony Xperia tipo review: Mini just got bigger
Camera is as plain as it gets
The Xperia tipo has a 3 megapixel fixed focus and no flash whatsoever. It's capable of producing stills of 2048 x 1536 pixels resolution.
The user interface is not the pure Android Ice Cream Sandwich one we've seen in other recent ICS Xperias, but is instead a customized Sony interface. It's pretty basic as far as functionality is concerned, offering only a few options.
The viewfinder takes up most of the screen, with a panel to the right of it for some of the controls: the gallery shortcut (which is a thumbnail of the last photo taken), the virtual shutter key and the camera mode switch.
The two remaining onscreen controls are located on the left, and are a quick scene selector and an exposure adjuster. The extra controls are semitransparent, so you can keep them on if you like, they won't block your view.
Pressing the contextual shortcut gives you access to a few more settings, such as white balance, geotagging, metering, and capture method. This last option lets you specify whether you want to be able to tap anywhere to take a picture, or use a dedicated onscreen capture button. Since the camera on the tipo is fixed focus, hitting on the screen image while in camera mode otherwise does nothing.
The resulting camera samples aren't the best we've seen from a 3MP shooter. Color rendering was slightly off, and there appears to be a software filter which removes much of the noise in the shots, but also removes a good amount of detail as well. The resulting images look almost like paintings - smooth and colorful, but with not much detail.
The fixed focus doesn't help much, either, as you can tell by our macro shot.
Image quality comparison
The standard test shots from the Xperia tipo are in our Photo Compare Tool database. The noise reduction filter is very much felt here, as it has rendered the grass in our second chart into a gloopy green mush. There is also evidence of a slight pink spot in the center of the image, most apparent on the first chart. The third chart has accurate white balance and good colors under artificial lighting.
Okay video recording
The Sony Xperia tipo captures VGA video at around 25 fps, which is all we can expect out of a single-core processor and a 3MP camera.
The camcorder has the same interface as the still camera and some of the same settings.
Videos are recorded in MP4 files with a bitrate of 1.6Mbps and stereo AAC sound (128Kbps, 48kHz). The resolved detail isn't great, as expected from a VGA shooter, but it seems as if the noise reduction is less aggressive to the video than it is to still images, as the videos look smoother than expected. Again, like in the still camera, the colors are slightly blown up, and the pink spot is apparent in the middle.
If you want to look closer at the video quality, you can download this untouched sample VGA@25fps, taken straight off the device.