1GHz dual-core NovaThor U8500
4″ Reality display
Sony WhiteMagic technology
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
1GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage, no microSD
8-megapixel Exmor-R camera, f/2.4
1080 Full HD video recording at 30fps
1.3-megapixel front camera (720p)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, NFC
122 x 59.5 x 10.5 mm
The Sony Xperia P is a 4-inch midrange Android phone sitting right between the Sony Xperia S and the Sony Xperia U which are part of Sony’s NXT family. All three phones are characterized by the transparent strip near the bottom of the device.
It’s hard to gauge this phone if you’re a Sony fan with a dual-core processor similar to its slightly smaller and more affordable Xperia U sibling, but if you want go for more, might as well go with the Xperia S. We’ll try to look at what makes the Sony Xperia P a phone in its class to help you decide if you’re considering this one for your next smartphone purchase.
Not going for the stylish look, the Sony Xperia P still looks sleek although a bit on the chunky side with its aluminum and edgy unibody. Not much curves on this one unlike phones that we are getting today but it is part of its appeal.
The front has that 4-inch screen featuring a thin bezel on both sides. Below the screen is a transparent backlit strip with the Back, Home, and Menu touch icons. It’s a more intuitive approach unlike the Xperia S which has the touch points on the strip but the icons are on the black bezel above it.
Below the strip is a removable plastic cap that gives color to the all-black face of the Xperia P. These are not interchangeable caps (unless you buy another unit) unlike the Xperia U and the only reason why you want to remove it is to check the phone’s serial number.
When most phones these days try to keep things as bare as possible when it comes to ports and buttons, the Xperia P went the other way.
On the left side of the handset you’ll see the microUSB port, microHDMI port, and the flap-covered microSIM slot. On top is just the 3.55mm audio jack, while on the right side, you’ll see the loudspeaker, the Power/Lock button, volume rocker and a camera shutter button. All the buttons have that slim profile making them hard to press. The Power button on our unit doesn’t protrude much either.
The matte aluminum back has that slight curve for better handling and the finish makes it hard to attract smudges, fingerprints and even scratches. The 8-megapixel camera lens is placed farther from the top edge so you won’t have to worry about accidentally covering it with your fingers when shooting, unlike the ones in Xperia S.
The back is not removable hence the location of the microSIM slot on the side. This makes the battery non-replaceable either. No microSD slot here as well.
I like the overall design of the Sony Xperia P. It’s not too big for a 4-inch phone and the curved back and matte silver finish gives it a solid, industrial look. I don’t mind the multitude of ports and buttons on the side but my only qualm would be the tiny, too-recessed Power button.
Display and UI
The Sony Xperia P has a 4-inch qHD (540 x 960) display with Sony’s Mobile Bravia engine for improved image rendering. Even at just 275 ppi, you would notice how sharp the display on this phone is.
The main selling point of this Xperia is what Sony calls WhiteMagic which adds a white subpixel to the usual Red, Green and Blue subpixels. WhiteMagic essentially increases the brightness of the display (up to 935 nits) without having to guzzle a lot of power from the battery. The Xperia P also comes with an ambient sensor that detects whether you’re indoor or outdoor and adjust the brightness accordingly.
Even with low brightness for indoors, the display on this is still brighter than normal. WhiteMagic really helps when using the phone outside in broad daylight but I also see the blacks being affected when the screen is set to full brightness.
The Xperia P runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread (Android 4.0 update should be coming real soon) with the Timescape UI overlay. The homescreen has a fixed amount of five panes, along with four customizable docked shortcuts surrounding the App Drawer button at the bottom.
The App Drawer has all your apps separated by pages. No divisions here for downloaded apps or recently used apps unlike what other brands have although you can create folders to group your apps.
Powering the Sony Xperia P is a dual-core NovaThor U8500 processor clocked at 1 GHz, with 1 GB of RAM and a Mali-400 GPU. Here’s the Quadrant score for the Xperia P (1725) which is fairly decent for a 1GHz dual-core proc.
In real world, I would say UI response is snappy and fast with the slight occasional lags when opening messages, or closing apps. Not that significant to affect the overall user experience anyway.
Web browsing is a smooth experience for me. Panning, zooming and text reflow are very fluid, and even Flash videos and objects play smoothly once they load.
Tried Temple Run for a bit and was surprised how the Mali-400 GPU was able to cope up with the game. It was smooth with little to no lags or drop frames. Not bad for a dual-core phone.
The Xperia P has an 8-megapixel camera with a LED flash. It uses Sony’s Exmor R mobile f2.4 lens for fast performance in daylight and better-than-usual performance under low light conditions. You can press and hold the dedicated camera button to launch the camera app even when the device is asleep.
Taking photos with the Xperia P is fast with the phone able to focus automatically without needing to half-press. Touch-to-focus is also supported which makes for fancy depth-of-field tricks. 3D Sweep Panorama is now a staple in Sony camera devices so it’s no surprise that we also see it here.
Here are a few sample shots I took (Auto) with the Sony Xperia P.
Absolutely beautiful camera performance here. The colors and white balance are accurate with good exposure overall. Noise is acceptable in low light but in good lighting condition, the Xperia P can replace your point-and-shoot if you’re not going to use the zoom.
This phone can also record Full HD 1080p @ 30fps video which has a continuous autofocus on by default. Here’s a sample video:
Instead of delving with the usual set of features available in most Android phones, I’m going to enumerate more cool features you can have with this phone.
xLoud Speakers. Just like the Xperia S, the speakers on this phone is quite powerful without sounding like it came from a can. It’s good that they positioned the loudspeaker on the side so it won’t be muffled when the phone is lying on its back.
Smart Tags. This phone supports NFC communication and has two NFC Smart Tags included in the package. What you do is assign a set of tasks on a tag, and when the phone comes near the tag, it will perform those tasks. Leave a tag in your car with tasks like turn on Bluetooth and launch the Maps app so whenever you get into your car, your phone will automatically do those. Neat huh?
Filipino dictionary. Yep, I noticed while fiddling with the Input Method, I saw Filipino as list of language in the auto-predict settings. Of course it doesn’t have the slangs (which you can teach the phone), but it’s pretty serviceable especially for long words.
USB On The Go. The Xperia P is one of the few phones that supports USB OTG. With a USB OTG cable (not included), you can attach low-powered external drives on your phone and it will read it as a secondary drive. Who needs microSD if you can read the contents of your HDD using a cable? A cool idea is to plug your phone to the TV via HDMI, and plug a thumb drive with your movies via USB OTG turning the Xperia P into a really portable media player.
The Sony Xperia P has a 1305mAh-rated battery which is actually sub-par for a dual-core phone. While I can get a day and a half in most phones and their 1500mAh+ batteries, the Sony Xperia P can only net me a day of moderate use (no 3G, only WiFi, moderate call, text, light gaming). Not a phone I would suggest for those who are always out with no portable power supply.
The Sony Xperia P is a feature-rich phone packed in a solid-looking body. It has a very nice display, very good camera, and a host of other features not found in other smartphones. It may not be the fastest dual-core phone around but if you’re ok with decent power, you would be happy to own this phone. Just be mindful of its battery and you’ll definitely enjoy the Xperia P.
Sony Xperia P Specs:
1GHz dual-core NovaThor U8500
4″ Reality display with the Mobile Bravia Engine (540 x 960 resolution)