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Sony Xperia T3 review: Underpowered & overpriced

12 August, 2014 2:30 AM
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The writer has posted comments on this articleRavi SharmaRavi Sharma,TOI Tech | Aug 12, 2014, 08.00 AM IST

The Indian market is fast becoming more complex for established brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, Apple and Micromax with players such as Motorola, Asus, Gionee and now Xiaomi introducing capable smartphones at ultra-cheap prices.

Among the latest smartphones in the Indian market is Sony's Xperia T3, a smartphone that offers a 5.3-inch display and thin body, but specs comparable to Moto G. It is priced at Rs 27,990. The only saving grace: it comes with a 'free' add-on gadget.

Is Xperia T3 worth considering if you have bestsellers like Moto X and Nexus 5 at the same price? Does Sony's pricing strategy work in the Indian market? Find out the answer to these questions in our Sony Xperia T3 review...

Sony's latest smartphone differs from its siblings in design. While the top smartphones come with glass body, Xperia T3 has a plastic back with matte finish and chrome lining on the sides. The plastic back feels soft to the touch and makes gripping the phone easier, but also attracts fingerprints. It is also not waterproof, which is odd considering Xperia ZR (launched last year) is cheaper and resistant to water.

Xperia T3 is among the slimmest smartphones you will see. It is 7mm thick and weighs less than 150gram, which makes it easy to carry around without ever feeling the bulk. However, you will see substantial bezels above as well as below the display, due to which the phone is around 75mm in length, making it difficult to operate with one hand.

Sony Xperia T3's back is not removable and both slots (sim card and microSD) are placed on the right edge, above the Power button.

As is the design language followed by Sony since last year, the Power button is located bang in the middle of the right edge and the Volume Rocker and dedicated camera keys are placed below it. The right side houses the microUSB port. There are no hardware or haptic keys below the display, and all the controls are on-screen as usual.

The display of Sony Xperia T3 measures 5.3-inch and has 720p resolution, which is far lower than the full-HD resolution of other smartphones available at the same price. Pixilation is not obvious in the Sony phone, but the level of clarity that the display of Nexus 5, Moto X and Samsung Galaxy S4 offer is sorely missing.

Xperia T3's display offers good colour reproduction, but colours tend to be warmer than they actually are. We observed this across all preloaded themes. Colours tend to wash out just a little when content is viewed from steep angles. Sunlight legibility of the smartphone's screen is pretty good and colours did not wash out at all under the sun.

The touchscreen sensitivity of Xperia T3 is among the best we have experienced in recent times. The smartphone picks up the lightest of touches, which makes for a great user experience in the touch-quality department.

This is where things get really tricky for Xperia T3. Sony has used the hardware comparable to Moto G in a phone that costs as much as Nexus 5. It runs on a 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, accompanied by 1GB RAM. This makes it seriously underpowered, compared to most rivals.

Other important hardware features of Xperia T3 are: 8GB internal storage, microSD support up to 32GB, 8MP rear camera with LED flash, 1.1MP front camera, 2,500mAh battery, NFC, 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB 2.0.

Xperia T3 comes with Android 4.4 Kitkat, the latest version of the mobile OS. Well, not really. The latest version of Android is 4.4.4, while this phone comes with Android 4.4.2, but you are not missing much.

Sony has topped the basic software with its proprietary skin. There are no software features worth noting in Xperia T3, as it has exactly the same software as other Sony phones, whether you compare it to the more expensive Xperia Z2 or the cheaper Xperia T2 Ultra.

There are a few preloaded Sony apps as well, such as Touch ID, PlayStation, Walkman etc, which clutter the otherwise pretty software.

When you hit the task switcher button, you will get access to Sony's floating apps, which are basically resizable widgets you can move around the screen. Long pressing the Power button makes it easier to take a screenshot.

Swiping down from the top of the screen with two fingers opens one-touch toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mobile data etc; this menu is user-configurable. Sony also lets you control how your app drawer appears by swiping from the left edge of the display when you are in the App Menu.

Sony Xperia T3 is a decent performer that has the misfortune of being priced too high. The difference between the performance levels of this phone and Nexus 5 is too big to ignore for us, making the latter the obvious choice if you need to spend your money on a phone in this price bracket.

During the review period, we were able to access all the apps we use daily without a hitch. It's just that every operation, every function just felt slower to complete than it does on a smartphone that costs Rs 28,000.

The processor may be relatively slow, but Xperia T3's software and memory management helped it remain in the race nonetheless. We did not come across any instance of apps closing automatically because of low available RAM. All processes ran smoothly, so that our user experience was not hampered.

Sony Xperia T3 is a decent multimedia phone. Its 5.3-inch screen can easily be used to watch movies on the storage or YouTube videos on the go. The colours pack a punch, so whatever video you play is a treat to watch; the phone is able to play both 720p and 1080p videos. Its speaker quality is also decent, though it's not loud enough to be used as a portable speaker.

The battery performance of the smartphone is decent, as it lasts around 13-14 hours once it is fully charged. Our usage included brightness set at 50%, 3G or Wi-Fi turned constantly (active use around 5-6 hours), video playback for approximately two hours, audio playback for approximately two hours, and active camera use for around 30 minutes.

The gaming performance of Xperia T3 is adequate and, unsurprisingly, the smartphone is able to handle the likes of Temple Run 2 and Jetpack Joyride with ease. It is also able to play Real Racing 3, a favourite of racing game lovers. The game has high-level graphics and tests all the systems quite a bit.

In our experience, there was no noticeable lag while playing Real Racing 3, even though the game became slightly jittery at certain points. The 720p screen of Xperia T3 is also not ideal for gaming as it does not capture all the details that you would be able to see on a full-HD screen.

Xperia T3 comes with an 8MP camera on the back, backed by a LED flash. The camera app is heavily customized and offers more than a few modes to click photos. Most users tend to opt for the automatic settings in a camera, which is a wise choice with Sony phones, as the default camera settings in Xperia smartphones deliver photos that are, well, prettier to look at.

Photos that were taken using the Xperia T3's camera in Auto mode show bright, slightly oversaturated colours, high level of contrast and very low noise levels. On the other hand, photos taken in Manual mode show dull and sometimes even darker colours and relatively more noise.

The level of detail in both cases is pretty good, and only a slight amount of detail is lost when you zoom in. The camera app is a little slow, so you need to wait a bit before the phone is done capturing the photo.

Sony is providing its SWR10 smartband (that is priced at Rs 5,990) with Xperia T3, as well as a cover worth Rs 2,500. These 'benefits' cost an extra Rs 8,500 to the consumer, but their actual utility is totally subjective as some people think of wearables as the next big thing in consumer tech, while others dismiss them as a fad.

This can be a nice way of promoting wearables in India, a market where even smartphones have not yet penetrated fully, or it can be a way of alienating potential buyers by slapping a high price tag on the box. This one is anybody's guess.

Xperia T3 is a decent option if you could somehow get it under Rs 20,000. But this will take a few more months, even after considering the predatory pricing at which the Indian e-commerce market works right now.

So, if you want to spend Rs 25,000-30,000, then Nexus 5 and Moto X are better bets than Xperia T3 right now. You can save even more money by going for HTC Desire 816, which is a decent phablet if your priority is to watch movies and videos on-the-go.


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