If you weren't particular impressed by the Sony Xperia Tipo or Sony Xperia Miro phones, and have a bit more cash to spend on your mobile, then the company is hoping to tempt you in with the Sony Xperia J instead. This mid-range Android handset carries over the curved back from the old Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc models and adds it to updated innards. You can buy it online for around £170, or alternatively get it for free on contracts starting at around £15.50.
Some of Sony's recent phones have been a bit boring in terms of their visual style, but the Sony Xperia J is actually quite a slick looking handset. Of course its key design signature is the curved back, which sweeps in towards the body of the phone. Not only does it look very striking, but it also helps make the phone that bit more comfortable to hold in your hand. Sony has also made good use of chrome trim including the band running around the outer edge of the phone and highlighting on the volume and power buttons that you'll find nestled on the right hand edge of the handset.
The Sony Xperia J has the usual LED above the screen to notify you when you've got new mail messages, emails or missed calls, but Sony has also added a secondary LED at the bottom of the phone that glows different colours -- according to the current theme being used --when you've got new messages or notifications. It's a neat idea, and looks quiet cool, but it didn’t seem to work reliably on our device, often simply staying unlit when new messages had hit our inbox.
The Sony Xperia J screen is actually very good. Contrast levels are impressive, so you don’t lose darker detail when watching movies on it; colours are bold and strong; and viewing angles are quite wide too. Its resolution of 854 x 480 pixels isn’t bad for a 4-inch display either.
Unfortunately the Sony Xperia J runs on Ice Cream Sandwich rather than Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. However, Sony has added its own skin over the top, which adds some useful features. For example, on the lock screen you can swipe left to unlock the phone and directly launch the camera app. You can also add folders of apps to the quick launch bar at the bottom of the homescreen and you also get a number of different widgets including Top Contacts, which acts as a shortcut for your most commonly used contacts and cleverly populates itself dynamically based on who you communicate with the most.
Nevertheless, there are a few things missing. For example, it's annoying that Sony hasn't added quick switches for features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS into the notifications menus -- something that most other manufacturers now do.