The entry-level Android space has only recently become rife with excitement as the newer models are actually something worth considering. When Android first started out, the cheaper variants were nothing but horrid and you wouldn’t want to go anywhere near a handset that was priced under 10K. That’s not the case now. Phones like the HTC Explorer, Samsung Galaxy Pocket and Micromax’s A75 have proved that budget Android handsets need not necessarily mean a crappy experience. Sony has been missing from the scene in this segment for a while and only recently, announced two budget offerings – the Xperia tipo and tipo dual, the latter being a dual-SIM version. Let’s see how it fares against stiff competition.
Video review of the Sony Xperia tipo dual
Design and Build
The Xperia tipo dual isn’t winning any design awards but it’s not ugly either. The full plastic body feels sturdy and durable and we didn’t find any creaking parts anywhere. We got the silver variant, which covers the rear, sides and the little chin at the bottom with the ‘Xperia’ insignia on it. Sony uses a mineral glass for the front, which is scratch resistant but is still prone to fingerprints. The 3.2-inch TFT screen is accompanied by a row of three capacitive buttons beneath it. The sides have the volume rocker and dedicated SIM switching button. The rear holds the 3MP camera and that’s pretty much it.
A decent looker
While the tipo dual is fairly light at just 99g, it’s a bit chunky at 13mm. We actually like it this way since if it was light, it would feel like a toy and wouldn’t be that comfortable to hold. The extra width has also given Sony the liberty to pack in a chunkier 1500mAh battery. The phone only accepts regular SIM cards and a microSD card slot that’s placed under the battery, so it’s not hot-swappable. Sony also bundles two micro SIM adapters in case you have one. Overall, the tipo dual is a well-built phone with a sturdy construction and decent looks.
Quite a chunky little fella
We’re happy to see Sony using the latest version of Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.0.4, which makes up for the slower 800MHz Qualcomm chipset. The MSM7225A SoC packs in a Adreno 200 GPU, which won’t do 720p video but will easily handle anything up to 480p. The display does not get any of the BRAVIA treatment and is a standard TFT LCD, so the viewing angles are not the best. You’ll notice a lot of colour shift while tilting the phone even slightly. Thankfully, we didn’t notice too much of colour banding in videos and wallpapers, so the display is not terrible. The capacitive screen responds well to touch and there’s two- finger multi-touch as well. There’s no ambient light sensor—something that we sorely miss.
The Xperia tipo dual gets the familiar skinning we’ve seen on other handsets, although this is similar to the lower-end handsets like the Live with Walkman rather than the higher-end Xperia phones. The UI is very smooth and you can quickly swipe between homescreens and apps without any slowdowns. Apart from the standard set of ICS settings and apps, there’s an Xperia setting that lets you set up Facebook for a deeper integration with the system. There aren’t any toggle switches in the notification bar, which would have been nice. For input, you only have the Xperia keyboard by default. This is not too bad actually and I did find typing on it relatively comfortable, although not very fast. You’re better off with Swype for a screen this small.
The loudspeaker is quite powerful for such a tiny phone and puts bigger phones like the Galaxy Nexus to shame. Music via the headphones is also crisp and clear. Though the bass didn’t have the thump that we’d expected, the mids and lows are covered quite well with the headset that comes with the phone. The music player lets you sort songs by Album, Tracks and Artists. You also have the option to create playlists. The music player also has a lockscreen widget that displays controls along with album art.
Good music playback
In terms of enhancements, you get Sony’s xLOUD feature, a few preset equaliser settings and a sound extension tab that allows users to instantly search for lyrics, karaoke videos and song information. FM Radio is also present. Video playback is a little lacklustre as it only supports MP4 format and lacks a video editor or extra options for streaming it via DLNA, through the player itself.