Sony Xperia tipo review: Mini just got bigger
The Sony Xperia tipo has quad-band 2G and dual-band 3G. Mobile data speeds are boosted by 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 5.76Mbps HSUPA.
Local connectivity is covered by Wi-Fi b/g/n, and there's also Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP on hand.
The tipo comes with Sony's Smart Connect manager, which can be set to perform certain actions whenever a accessory is connected, or during certain times of the day. For instance, you can set it to start the music application whenever headphones are plugged in, or set the phone to silent at night.
One of the biggest advantages that the Sony Xperia tipo gets from running Android ICS is the updated web browser. This browser has a streamlined interface, incognito browsing and other cool features.
The browser interface is quite minimalistic; all you get is a URL bar with a tabs shortcut. Hitting the Menu key gives you more options - Refresh, Forward, Save to bookmarks, Share page, Find on page, full settings and a couple of more - Request desktop site (no more hunting for that "Desktop" option buried at the bottom of the site) and Save for offline reading.
The full settings menu includes some really interesting options. For example, you can set your search engine to Yahoo or Bing, you can adjust text size and the level of which double tap will zoom in.
The browser borrows several features from its desktop counterpart. For example, when searching for something, if the browser is confident you'll click on a certain search result, it will start preloading that page right away so that it opens faster if you do click it. You can set this feature to work over Wi-Fi only to preserve data.
The other trick is Incognito mode - there's no global setting, but you can open individual Incognito tabs.
Speaking of tabs, the tab switching interface looks exactly like in the Recent apps list. You can even close tabs by swiping them off the screen.
Quick controls (available from the Labs settings) reveal five controls (New tab, Tabs, URL, Bookmarks, More) when you slide your finger in from the side. Those really improve the browser experience. Another cool feature from Labs is Full screen, which squeezes out a little more screen real estate by hiding the status bar.
Flash support on the tipo browser was a mixed bag. YouTube videos were able to play in the browser window, but the experience was far from smooth. Most Flash ads showed up as well, although Flash games did not run. You may be able to side-load the Adobe Flash apk if you find it from the dev forums but just don't count on in running trouble-free.
Great organizational tools
The Sony Xperia tipo comes with a solid set of organizing options, including a document viewer.
The app in question is the OfficeSuite viewer and it has support for viewing document files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF, including the Office 2007 versions). If you want edit as well as view, the Pro version (a $15/€13 update) can do that.
Reading documents is reasonably comfortable and panning is blazing fast. There's built-in file browser and cloud storage integration (Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and SugarSync).
Tap on the Manage my files button and you get into the full-blown file browser. It can do all the basic stuff (new folder, copy, delete, etc.), plus batch operations, search for files and ZIP multiple files and folders.
The calendar has three different types of view - daily, weekly and monthly. The lower section of the screen is reserved for a list of upcoming events. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.
The Calendar also pulls info on upcoming events from your Facebook account. Facebook events appear just like regular calendar entries but you can't edit them on the phone, they are read-only.
There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized - the buttons are really big and easy to hit. You can expand advanced functions (trigonometry, logarithms).
The alarm clock app supports multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The Alarms app can also work as a desk clock - you have a big toggle for the brightness, as well as weather info and shortcuts to gallery slideshow and the music player. There's no world clock, stopwatch or timer though.
Finally, the Sony Power Saver app lets you automate certain power saving functions for your device, such as whether to dim the display or disable certain connectivity features when the battery falls below a certain level.