The Sony Xperia Tipo specification is quite modest. It uses a single core 800 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which is teamed up with 512MB of Ram. It's certainly not the fastest phone we've used, but nor is it dreadfully slow. However, its benchmarks results didn’t exactly knock our socks off. It took 3710.1ms to complete the Sunspider test, while in Browsermark it clawed its way to a score of 50881, and Linpack reported that it reached 30.507Mflops. It's gaming performance actually isn’t that bad by budget standards, something which was reflected in the fact that it managed to deliver 25fps in the Egyptian Classic test in GL Benchmark.
When it comes to storage the phone has just 2.9GB or space built in. However, only around 2.2GB of this is available for storing your own apps and files. That's not an awful lot, as you're likely to burn through it quite quickly once you start taking lots of photos and load up your own music tracks and video files. However, the handset does have a microSD card slot which can take cards of up to 32GB in size.
The Sony Xperia Tipo runs on the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, which isn’t the latest version as it's now been superseded by Jelly Bean. Nevertheless, Ice Cream Sandwich is much more recent than the Gingerbread version that many other handsets around the £100 mark tend to use.
Sony has added its own launcher over the top of Android, but it still retains most of the core Ice Cream Sandwich features. For example, when you press and hold the home button a series of thumbnails pop up showing recently used applications and tapping on one of these instantly takes you back to the app. You can also swipe notifications sideway to get rid of them and also set data usage warnings so the phone monitors how much mobile data you're using and notifies you when you're getting close to the limit of your allowance.
Sony's own skin isn’t massively different from the standard Android layout, although the graphics have a distinct Sony flavour. There are some neat effects too. For example, when you put the phone into lock mode the screen folds in on itself and then into a thin line of bright white light like an old analogue TV turning off. The app drawer is also organised as a sideways scrolling list and a button on the bottom lets you reorganise the order of apps alphabetically, by most used or recently installed. Alternatively you can just arrange them in your own particular order.
Sony has added a few useful widgets such as the Top Contacts one which automatically populates itself with the four people that you most often communicate with. You get apps for Sony's own Music Unlimited music store as well the PlayNow store -- which complements Google's own Play Store -- and offers games, apps and wallpapers to buy and download. There's also a neat radio app for controlling the onboard FM tuner. It includes a TrackID button so if you hear a song on the radio and want to know what its called you can just hit this button and the phone use an online database to work out what track it is.
Call quality was a bit mixed. The earpiece delivers good quality audio, but the mic is a bit overly directional so if you hold the phone in slightly the wrong place callers may struggle to make out what you're saying. Battery life was very good though, no doubt helped by the small screen and modest processor. We found we could easily get more than a full day out of it before it needed a recharge.
The fact that the Sony Xperia Tipo is so small and moderately priced will attract many. It's also a bonus that it runs the relatively recent Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android. However, the small and low resolution screen makes it fiddly to use for everything bar the basics and the fact remains that the Huawei Ascend G300 offers a much better all round package for a similar price.