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Sony Xperia P review



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Key Features: Dual-Core 1GHz processor; 4in, 960 x 540 pixel screen; WhiteMagic display for brighter image and lower power; Android 40

Manufacturer: Sony

The Sony Xperia P by all rights shouldn't really set anyone's heart aflutter. It doesn't, after all, have any single feature that really sets it apart from any other Android smartphone. But somehow the whole is better than the sum of its parts, making it a tempting mid-range handset.


Where the Sony Xperia P starts its assault is with its design. It's smart and sleek yet quirky too. It has the same overall vibe as the Xperia S, with the Xperia line's signature features of the curved back, pointy corners and the clear strip running through the bottom section. But while we felt the S fell short of expectations the P actually exceeds them. This is for two reasons. The first is it uses a more premium looking and feeling metal back, and the second is that our expectations are markedly lower to start with, this being a mid-range handset after all.

Sony Xperia P

The design isn't perfect though. One thing we didn't like about the Xperia S that the Xperia P hasn't managed to fix is the bitty look and feel. The screen has an unsightly lip around it, the front facing camera really stands out and the pathetic flap that covers the SIM slot lets the side down. Nonetheless, overall the Xperia P is a handset we'd happily be seen with.

Ergonomics and Connectivity

What's more, it's not all about vanity either. The Xperia P's design appeals because it's actually easy to handle too. It has a modest 4in screen so its overall dimensions are a manageable 122 x 59.5 x 10.5 mm. These proportions also put the side mounted power button cum screen lock switch directly under thumb or finger for easy one handed operation. Likewise the volume rocker, while the touch sensitive navigation buttons set into the plastic strip beneath the screen aren't a stretch either – and they work well too. Only the slightly uncomfortable pointy corners and slightly over-stiff buttons are an issue, and they're not much of one.

Sony Xperia P 11

In contrast, the Xperia S is hardly the largest handset going but nevertheless it felt little bigger (and heavier) than we like, its buttons don't quite fall so nicely into place and its touch buttons are awful.

Added to these great basics the Xperia P has a shutter button for the camera and a microHDMI socket, so it's easy to take pictures and hook your phone up to a TV to look at said pictures. You don't, however, get expandable storage by way of a microSD slot (you get 16GB of built in storage), and in fact you can't remove the backplate to replace the batter either, or at least not without getting a screwdriver out.

On the wireless front you only get Blutooth v2.1 rather than v4.0 but this a relatively minor slip up. You also get everything else you should want with Wi-Fi n, NFC and quad band 3G all present and correct, so you can stream, sync, talk and text from just about anywhere.

Overall then we think the Xperia P has one of the most compelling combinations of ergonomics and features currently available, particularly if you're not into these really big phones.

Sony Xperia P 1


Not dropping the baton is the screen, which although not up there with the biggest and best is only a step below. It's an LCD so suffers from a slightly grey look to dark images, and there's a little bit of contrast shift when viewed from an angle. What's more it has only 540 x 960 pixels, which is a fair few less than the 720 x 1280 panels of the top dogs. So, a Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One X beater it isn't.

Sony Xperia P 4

But, the resolution is a step above the 480 x 800 panels that were standard a year ago and combined with the modest 4in screen size it makes for a screen that's plenty sharp enough for a nice experience whether web browsing, reading emails, watching video or playing games. It's also reasonably colourful, and because there's no air gap between the glass screen and LCD display below, the image looks like its right on the surface of the glass, giving great viewing angles.

In terms of responsiveness, it's absolutely fine too, and you've got scratch-resistant glass to keep the phone looking fresher for longer.

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Tim Sutton

August 2, 2012, 8:50 pm

I think I'm just unlikely to ever buy another phone of any sort that doesn't have expandable memory.

When I'm out of decent coverage (which in Devon is usually) or abroad I need to have my media stored locally, and to be honest I almost always WANT to have it stored locally even when I am in coverage.

16GB is not enough space for me to consider it worthwhile buying.


August 5, 2012, 7:05 pm

Nice review, I dont see a problem for me with 16GB of memory, I personally (not knocking others) dont see the point or need to carry my whole music/video collection with me at one time, I can only watch and/or listen to one thing at a time, so I just carry what is relevant at that time

There may be no simple settings in the drop down notification bar, but I think there is a simple widget on the far left home page that lists, wifi, gps, bluetooth etc etc that can simply be switched on and off from there.

One question for you, how do you rate the GPS on this unit ? I dont own one and my contract ends in October, this is one of the phones I am looking at when the time comes (There may be a lot better, but I dont spend a lot, and I dont need a lot of super duper features) BUT I do like a strong GPS receiver, how does this compare ??

Thank you


September 5, 2012, 11:31 pm

I want to buy the Xperia P however because it has been out for some time I am worried that its successor will be available shortly after I purchase my phone. Do you have any idea in when the successor to the P will be released?


January 6, 2013, 1:44 pm

true the memory is not enough.
this is the only reason i don;t buy it
from romania respect


January 14, 2013, 10:38 am

Great phone. Competes with galaxy s3 mini. Same chipset. Sony made 2 mistakes at initial release: too expensive to compete in its initial price range and they installed the stale Gingerbread OS. Now its getting old and they are struggling to keep it up to date with Ice Cream Sandwich. Oh well...

Nasir Talal

February 2, 2013, 5:50 am

i hav xperia P...its camera isnt working after the update which i installled yesterday....plzzz helP me out n teLL me what to do

Jon Thompson

May 3, 2013, 11:31 am

Fantastic handset with superb screen, just the job for those who don't want to carry a huge screen around with them. The camera is fantastic too. Just a few minor but frustrating issues:

1. The battery is built-in so will be difficult to replace

2. The last android upgrade inexplicably changed the swipe function on the lock screen, it used to put the phone in silent mode which was very handy, now it fires up the camera which is completely unnecessary as there is a camera button on the side on the handset. There is no way of changing it back.

3. Most infuriating, when you are in a call, say you're waiting a call to answer and the screen goes off. Pressing the button in the side which normally activates the screen will terminate the call. I have been on hold on a call then accidentally ended the call, thinking I am turning the screen on which is the button's normal function when not in a call.

These little irritations aside though it is without a doubt the best phone I have ever had and is highly recommended.

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