Sony Xperia Tipo

Feature set summary for Sony Xperia Tipo review
Getting Android Ice Cream Sandwich is a real plus at this price, plus the 3.2 megapixel snapper is fine for taking simple snaps.
Sony Xperia Tipo

Style and handling summary for Sony Xperia Tipo review
The body is a tad chunky, but it’s still neat enough to fit nicely in the hand. It feels reasonably solid but lightweight and we really like the rubberised texture on the rear.

Battery power summary for Sony Xperia Tipo review
This is a real plus point – even after 24 hours of moderate use, there was still 30% of juice remaining. Streaming video gives you a good 10 hours.

Performance summary for Sony Xperia Tipo review
The Tipo runs on a single-core chip but Android Ice Cream Sandwich runs smoothly with only the odd stutter. Most games and apps run well, but you won’t be playing the latest hardcore 3D games.

User friendliness summary for Sony Xperia Tipo review
The Xperia Tipo’s 3.2-inch screen is a little small for texting and emailing, but helped by the excellent auto-correct feature

Full Review and Specification for the Sony Xperia Tipo
Sony is churning out new Xperia phones at a rate of knots – and here’s number five for this year, the Xperia Tipo (and the Xperia SL is set to launch next week in Berlin…) So where does the Tipo fit within the range? Well, it’s certainly the cheapest, at a tad over the 100 quid mark, but still comes packed with features. There’s a 3.2-megapixel snapper AND it runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Rubber rear

The back of the phone is covered in rubber, which makes it feel nice to hold in the hand and ensures you keep a firm grip. It is also pretty scuffproof too.

Design-wise it’s quite minimal – you’ll see a power switch, USB port and volume keys on the sides and touch-sensitive keys for Home, Back and Menu on the front. Prod the phone and these will light up. It’s a neat design, even if a tad chunky.

In fact that chunky feel reminded us of the old Sony Walkman handsets. Yet it’s still light – coming in on the scales at a little under 100g. It still feels pretty solid, though, as if it would stand up to a few knocks and bumps.

Sweet system

At this price, you’d be forgiven for expecting the Tipo to run on Android’s older Gingerbread operating system – but you’d be wrong. Under the hood lurks Ice Cream Sandwich, which has a few tweaks to make an improvement on ICS, as well as a nice choice of resizable widgets. These can be dropped onto your desktop, and you can also easily set up folders by simply dragging your chosen apps together.

The processor is of the single-core variety but manages to run the OS well, apart from the odd stutter when finding your way through the menus or switching between desktops – we suspect that’s also why there’s a non-animated background on the Tipo. We also had an issue with some of the widgets (including the bookmark tabs and inbox viewer) freezing. We had no problems running the likes of Angry Birds in Space, but don’t expect to be able to play any of the latest intensive 3D games.

The interface has had the Sony touch and looks like your average Xperia smartphone – witness the Timescape widgets and electric background. There’s a notifications bar to offer speedy access to the settings menu and above the display sits an LED for alerting you when an app update or new message comes in. It’s nice to see a dearth of bloatware apps, but Sony has thought to include a copy of Office Suite.

Snap to basics

The snapper is a 3.2 megapixel model. It’s basic – and there’s no flash – but it does have features such as geo-tagging and a timer. The on-screen shutter key takes images almost straight away because there is no focus. Pictures come out rather soft if viewed on a monitor. Blur and glare were an issue and our night and evening pictures were just too dark. However, it’s okay for taking pictures for Facebook.

Small screen

The display is small at 3.2 inches, which can be an issue for typing emails and texts. It’s easier if you hold the handset sideways, which gives you a bit more space on the keyboard. The auto-correct was excellent though – and we found we could type pretty speedily once we’d got used to the small screen.

The small screen is also an issue when playing games, using apps and watching video, but is still usable. Images look sharp, even though the display isn’t that vibrant or bright. The touchscreen proved responsive enough, although sometimes we found we had to tap onscreen keys and options more than once to get a result. The display also feels a tad flimsy – it gives when prodded and the image gets distorted.

We were impressed, however, by the Tipo’s battery life. We used it all day for going online, texting, emailing, using apps and maps, as well as making a call and watching some video and we still had about 30% of our power left. A full 10 hours of video watching is possible before the battery dies – really impressive.

Our conclusion

The Sony Xperia Tipo is good value at a tad over 100 quid – it’s one of the cheapest phones to run on Ice Cream Sandwich too. The performance is good, especially considering the processor, and the camera is basic but produces decent-enough Facebook shots.