Sony Xperia Tipo review
|Review: September 2012|
In a nutshell: The Sony Xperia Tipo is an excellent budget smartphone with a compact and lightweight body.
While most smartphones are busy bragging about the size of their LCD displays or the number of megapixels or gigahertz they pack, the Sony Xperia Tipo is confident enough to declare that small is beautiful. It's not a phone for tech-heads, but if you want a smartphone that you can use easily with one hand and then tuck away in your pocket, the Tipo deserves a closer look.
Available in a choice of Black, White, Red or Blue, the Tipo isn't exactly a slim phone - at 13mm it's nearly twice as thick as the iPhone 5, but it's quite a bit shorter and very lightweight at just 99g.
A phone this compact doesn't have a lot of space for a large LCD display, but the Tipo's 3.2 inch screen is typical for an entry-level smartphone. It's the same size as the HTC Explorer or the LG Optimus L3 for instance. The screen resolution of 320 x 480 pixels is in fact better than many smartphones in this price bracket. Just be aware that a screen this size isn't ideal for viewing photos or videos and the on-screen keyboard can be rather cramped.
Hardware & specs
The Tipo isn't going to come first in any races, but it has an average 800MHz processor that's fast enough to power a phone like the Tipo with its relatively small screen. The 512MB RAM is also sufficient for modest apps. When it comes to storage, the built-in memory is actually quite generous, at 2.9GB, of which about 2.5GB is available to the user. That's certainly a lot more than most phones in this price range. If that isn't enough, you can add a microSD memory card to give up to 32GB more. That ought to be plenty for anyone.
Ice Cream Sandwich
A smartphone is all about the operating system - that's what makes it smart. The Tipo runs Android 4.0, nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich, which is very nearly the latest release. Competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Y run older versions of Android, so this is definitely an advantage of the Tipo. An upgrade to 4.1 Jelly Bean may become available too. Android includes many standard features of smartphones, such as email & messaging, contacts, facebook, a web browser, Google Maps, a calendar and an organiser. The Ice Cream Sandwich release includes voice-activated search.
Sony have added their own modifications to Android. These include a music player and a customisable home screen. There are in fact five home screens, and you can drag shortcuts and widgets onto these screens however you like. Timescape lets you view all your communications (facebook, twitter, etc) in one place. A data usage app lets you monitor your downloads so you don't end up with any nasty unexpected bills.
The Tipo is billed as a hassle-free smartphone. To this end, a dedicated set-up guide helps you to set up your Google and Facebook accounts and get everything going quickly.
Apps & music
There are now hundreds of thousands of downloadable apps available from Google Play. Many of these are free, or offer a free trial. You can also download content such as music, videos and books from Google Play. Sony's own Music Unlimited subscription service gives you access to millions of songs.
Speaking of music, the Tipo makes a pretty good iPod replacement. The music app can be placed on the home screen for convenience, and it works well, letting you create playlists, select music by artist, album, etc. An FM radio with RDS is also included. Sound quality through the speakers is better than many phones, thanks to Sony's xLOUD volume booster, and it sounds even better through a decent set of headphones.
You can set your music as ringtones too.
Who's that in the photo?
Photography isn't the Tipo's strongpoint. Fitted with a basic 3.2 megapixel camera with no flash, we wouldn't recommend taking photos after dark if you actually want to recognise any of your friends. The camera can record video at a grainy VGA resolution, but again, this isn't the right phone for budding directors.
When it comes to connectivity, the Tipo offers everything you could demand from a budget phone. It's a quadband GSM phone as well as having high-speed 3G HSPA for fast data connections. It connects to Wi-Fi hotspots and can even function as a Wi-Fi hotspot itself, connecting other Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the internet. In addition it has Bluetooth and USB connectivity and you can plug in a set of headphones via the 3.5mm audio jack.
Despite being a lightweight phone, the Tipo packs a real punch when it comes to battery life. Equipped with a much larger battery than most rivals (1500mAh), the Tipo can easily outlast most smartphones, getting perhaps a few days off one charge. Impressive.
Conclusion - good value for under £100
Sounding like a dinky Italian car, the Tipo is the cheapest and smallest phone to be released so far in the Sony Xperia range. In the sub-£100 smartphone sector, few phones stand out from the crowd, but the Tipo is one that does. Its highlights are a compact and lightweight form factor, Android Ice Cream Sandwich, generous built-in memory and of course that big juicy battery. The Tipo is an excellent starter phone, but you might also consider the HTC Desire C, LG Optimus L3 or Samsung Galaxy Ace.
Sony Xperia Tipo features include:
- Google Android 4.0 operating system
- 3.2 megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom
- VGA video camera
- Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 320 x 480 pixels (3.2 inches), 262,000 colours with auto-rotation
- Media player
- TrackID music recognition
- xLOUD Experience
- FM radio with RDS
- MP3 ringtones
- aGPS with Google Maps, Street View and Latitude
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, email, conversations
- 3D and Motion gaming
- Vibration alert
- Internet: WebKit web browser, Facebook, Google Voice Search
- Processor: 800 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
- Memory: 2.9GB internal memory with 512MB RAM plus microSD memory card slot
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, DLNA, WiFi hotspot support
- Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900) plus 3G UMTS/HSPA ( 900, 2100) - up to 7.2 Mbps download
- Size: 103 x 57 x 13 mm
- Weight: 99g
- Battery: 1500mAh
- Talktime: 5 hours
- Battery standby: 470 hours
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Sony Xperia Tipo user reviews
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Average rating from 3 reviews:
Reviewed by nasro from malaysia on 21st May 2013
so far no problem,except i have to download active app to endup sms app.that ok no problem.
Reviewed by Billy Hill from scotland on 24th Feb
The tipo is a more than adequate smart phone that has an impressive specs list for a phone designed to compete in the budget bracket.
However u do have to overcome its irritating quirks to fully appreciate it's potential.
For e.g the cramped screen makes txt messages almost impossible to type in the portrait position and in the landscape position u will have to refine ur typeing style to be very accurate on the letters .
This hints at the tipo was aimed at the teenager market as other features such as music playing options are brilliant in both quality of audio and choices in source.
The camera is such a major disappointment but operating system and memory as well as battery life and general spec more than compensate for this.
Stylish looks and decent build quality, spec and future upgrade possibilities make the eighty quid it cost me feel like theft.
Reviewed by G-man from UK on 20th Oct 2012
You won't find a budget phone with android 4 anywhere else... atleast I couldn't it... At £70 from carphonewarehouse I thought it was a bargain for my Mrs whose Nokia phone was stolen.... fantastic music & ofcourse abundance of android app makes it so easy.... Screen could have been bigger but probably helps small pockets or small hands.... Features such as data usage control (in-built) and quick charge are a big bonus... even lets you manage on low battery by restricting wifi and other high battery use apps so you can still survive on calls & text in emergency..... haven't tried camera and not sure if low pixels make any difference (I find pics quite crisp)... Lightweight & nice feel ....we are loving it
For a budget phone it certainly deserves 5/5