Sony Mobiles launched a new Xperia series device today in our country’s capital – the Xperia tipo. While it may not be the best choice of a name, the somewhat funky new smartphone is designed to cater to the youth of today. Here’s a quick looksee into the new handset before we get into a full blown review.

Design

The tipo is available in two variants – a single SIM (GSM) device and Dual SIM (GSM + GSM). At this time, a dual SIM smartphone is just what Sony needs to combat the competition. However, that being said, in the specs department, the tipo will have a hard time competing with the low budget rulers like Micromax, Spice, Karbonn and iBall .

Well placed

Well placed

To start off, the handset features a 3.2-inch display sporting a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. It looks good, no argument there, but with other devices highlighting 5-inch displays, this one’s not going to be too easy when it comes to videos. Secondly, it’s equipped with a 3.2

megapixel camera and again, we see budget devices that have 5MP cameras in the same range.

A few choice of color options will be available

A few choice of color options will be available

While it does come in a variety if funky colours – Red, White, Blue, Balck, the tipo really isn’t the sleekest looking device on the shelf or the slimmest. In fact, at 13mm in depth, it’s a little bit on the bulky side. The smooth matte-like finish gives the handset a little added sheen. The Dual SIM edition features a small (quite small) SIM selector key on the right hand side under the volume rocker. The SIM cards have a neat little tray system (slot) that’s quite convenient for slipping them in and out. The micro USB port is placed on the bottom left hand side of the device with the handsfree port on the top near the power/sleep button.

Xperia tipo SIM slots

Xperia tipo SIM slots

The tipo features 2GB of on board storage, which is great and quite enough to download plenty of apps for your daily routine or social networking moments. A (Hot Swap) micrsoSD card slot is also available with support for additional storage up to 32GB. Since Sony is focusing on the handset's media prowess, it has bundled a very comfortable looking handsfree kit, but it’s not unlike any of

the others you’d find with other Sony devices. Like previous editions, the Live with Walkman for one, the loudspeaker on this handset is way above average. In a crowded room, music still managed to resound quite audibly from the tipo like it didn’t even break a sweat.

A quick look at the tipo's specs

A quick look at the tipo's specs

Features

The Xperia tipo ships with ICS (Android version 4.0), which is good news and bad news for Sony Mobiles again. The good news is—fans will at least have one of the new iterations of the OS in a very affordable price bracket. The bad news—there are cheaper devices and those with slightly better features that also come bundled with ICS in its raw, unencumbered form. No messy bloatware or cluttered unarticulated UIs gumming up the works.

Finally we're seeing Sony embrace ICS, is Jelly Bean on the Charts? Unknown

Finally we're seeing Sony embrace ICS. Is Jelly Bean on the Charts? Unknown

What’s worse is that it has got this smartphone running on a Qualcomm 800Mhz processor with an Adreno 200 GPU. Sure, things ran quite smoothly on the test devices and all preloaded apps and features opened up with ease. There was just the tiniest hint of lag witnessed on all the demo units we tested at the launch. It was acceptable, all things considered. But again, we’re in that stage now where 800Mhz, as functional as it may be for ICS or the manufacturers using it, just doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Handsets with larger displays and higher res cameras, some even of the dual-SIM variety, are priced in the same space and are equipped with 1GHz processors. Of course, a Qualcomm processor is a Qualcomm processor and would potentially fare better than some of the higher end options embedded into the budget brands, but that’s something we can report on only after running benchmarks and a full barrage of tests in our labs.

Dual SIM features via the Android Settings menu

Dual SIM features via the Android Settings menu

Managing dual-SIM functionality seemed like a fairly easy task and we’ll also be going into it into a little bit of detail when we do a full blown review. The features can be easily accessed from the settings menu. What Sony is also ‘pushing’ in terms of USP, is a data management feature. However, this feature is quite native to ICS (and up) enabled Android devices. Via the settings menu, you can choose the Data Usage option and not only check the amount of data you’re using but also put a cap on the amount depending on your plan from your service provider.

Easy access to either SIM at the press of a button

Easy access to either SIM at the press of a button

There’s also an FM radio on board. With connectivity options ranging from Wi-Fi (with hot spot functionality) and 3G (HSDPA up to 7.2 Mbps) to Bluetooth with A2DP, the tipo is a well connected device).

First Impression

Off hand, from simply handling the device at the launch event, it doesn’t come off as an altogether impressive piece of hardware. It is nevertheless well enough priced at Rs. 9,999 for the single SIM version and Rs. 10,499 for the dual-SIM edition. Its closest big-name competition is from Samsung, who has been in the budget Android market game for some time now with handsets like the Galaxy Y Duos and its Lite edition as well as tthe Champ devices. However, in this particular case, the local brands like Micromax et al offer far more value for your money.

Having said all that, we have yet to review the device and put it through its paces. From initial usage, taking into account the specifications as they stand, the Xperia tipo seems like it could come out on top if you’re looking for a big-branded device. In some of these case, it’d be advisable to note that here we’re talking about quality versus bulky feature quantity. It is a good thing though, to see the big players get off their high horses and offer the budget segment some seriously worthy options.

Stay tuned to this space for the full review of Sony Mobile’s Xperia tipo.

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