The Sony Xperia Tipo is Sony's latest Android phone that has a small price to match its dinky dimensions. However, unlike a lot of other budget handsets we've seen lately, it doesn’t rely on the older 2.3 version of Android, but instead comes loaded with the relatively recent Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google's mobile OS.
The Sony Xperia Tipo really is tiny, as it stands a mere 103mm tall and is 57mm wide. It's relatively thick at 13mm, but because it weighs just under 100g, you hardly notice it when it's tucked away in your pocket.
The design is pretty non-descript, but not exactly unpleasant. It's decked out almost completely in black with just the silver effect used on the logos and touch buttons to break up the dark, moody exterior. The front has a slick glossy finish and there's a sloping cutaway just under the screen that looks quite stylish.
On the back the curved battery cover, which has a grippy rubberised finish, helps it to fit snugly in the hand and the phone feels solidly built, even if the chassis is quite plasticy.
Along with the three standard Android touch buttons beneath the screen there are also hard buttons for the volume and power/lock controls. The latter is a tad too small and too recessed for our liking and as a result sometimes makes it fiddlier than it should be to take the phone out of standby.
Sony has thankfully placed the Tipo's standard headphone jack at the top of the handset, but unfortunately the microSD card slot has been sited underneath the battery, making it a bit of a pain to get at.
Probably the most irritating aspect of the Sony Xperia Tipo is its screen. It measures just 3.2-inches across the diagonal and has a low resolution of 320x480 pixels. It feels very cramped to use, colours tend to look a bit muddy and there's a good deal of motion blur when you're scrolling through menus or up and down on webpages.
The small display also makes the onscreen keyboard a bit tricky to use, especially in portrait mode. This is simply because the keys are very closely packed together with the result that it's easy to hit adjacent letters to the one you were aiming for. Using the predictive text entry engine in Android helps alleviate some of this as the phone will automatically correct mistakes, but typing messages or emails is still a lot slower on this phone than on Android mobiles with larger displays.
The handset only has as single camera on the rear, so you can’t use it for video calling in apps like Skype. The camera is a fairly basic 3.2-megapixel snapper with a fixed focus lens and a lack of integrated flash too. Picture quality is relatively poor mainly because it struggles to capture finer detail. Leaves on trees tend to look painted on, for example, as all the detail on the leaves gets smudged. It also tends to overexpose brighter areas of the image. On the plus side, colours are generally pretty accurate. On the whole, though, while the camera is fine for taking quick snaps to upload to Facebook, you won't want to rely on it for much more than that.