Like the rest of Sony's 2012 smartphones, the Sony Xperia T has a square aspect, if less so than its predecessors. But its sloped and smoother corners and strangely curved back, reminiscent of the Xperia Arc, make it look and feel much nicer.
The Sony Xperia T is 9.4mm at its thinnest point and 12.2mm where the camera lens juts out. The handset weighs a reasonable 140g. It's thicker and heavier than last year's Xperia Arc but there is more technology packed inside.
Although we like the more curvy design of the Sony Xperia T, the all-black style looks rather bland, although there is one with a silver-coloured rear – we expected more from a phone used in a Bond film. There's not a lot going on with this handset apart from a set of three buttons on the right side. We were disappointed to find no metal-cutting lasers or mini rockets in the production version.
The shatter-proof and scratch-resistant glass gives the front of the Sony Xperia T good protection. The rest of the casing is made from a plastic which feels smooth and helps with grip.
The black model gets a rubbery rear, while the silver-coloured one receives a matt plastic back. We tested both, after the first black model abruptly stopped working and couldn’t be revived so a second sample was tried. On either model, the rear cover doesn't meet the glass front very well – we could easily separate the two.
This is no removable cover though, so if you dropped the handset it’s unlikely to become detached so easily. The only movable part of the Sony Xperia T is a flap on the side covering the micro-SIM and microSD card slots.
We weren't bowled over by the Sony Xperia T's design, but things looked more promising on the hardware side. The smartphone scored an impressive 1528 points in the Geekbench 2 test thanks to its 1.5GHz Qualcomm Krait dual-core processor and 1GB of memory.
The score isn't so far off the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III, about 150 points shy. Our current leader in this synthetic benchmark test is the Google Nexus 4 with 2009 points.
The 4.55in screen is a little smaller than the competition at or around £400 – phones like the Google Nexus 4, HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III – but the Xperia T doesn't seem any smaller. The resolution of 720 x 1280 in this display results in a crisp and clear pixel density of 323ppi.
Storage inside the Sony Xperia T is a middling 16GB. However, there's a microSDHC card slot for adding up to 32GB more – a facility increasingly uncommon in smartphones. Until the end of the year, Sony is offering 50GB of free cloud storage with Box.
Although there are no connectivity features which will bring disable all electronics in the surrounding area nor fetch your car for you, there is the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC (near-field communications). It's also DLNA certified for streaming content to a compatible TV. Or alternatively you can use HDMI with an MHL adapter.
Sony smartphones tend to be above average when it comes to photography. The Sony Xperia T has a 13Mp rear camera with an LED flash and, like most Xperia phones, has a dedicated camera/shutter button. It's a promising proposition.
Like the Sony Xperia S, which has a 12.1Mp camera, we were impressed with the results. Aided by the Exmor R CMOS sensor, images were consistently detailed and sharp with good exposure. The camera didn't cope as well as some phones, namely the Lumia 920, in low-light situations though.
We like the fact the camera app can be quickly launched at any time by pressing the physical camera key – even if the screen is off. You can half press the key to focus before taking a picture.
As you'd expect from a camera with a resolution as high as this, you can record video footage in full-HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. Video footage was average and there are better options on the market in this area such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, Nokia Lumia 920 and Apple iPhone 5.
The front 1.3Mp front camera can't manage 1080p but does provide very good video at 720p instead.
While not completely up to date, the Xperia T comes with the still decent Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). An upgrade to this year’s Google Jelly Bean OS is due in January 2013, which should introduce extra features like Google Now.
Sony hasn't changed much about its custom user interface since previous Xperia handsets. It's a good-looking overlay with plenty of potential for customisation thanks to lots of pre-loaded themes, wallpapers and widgets. Social networking it handles particularly well with Timescape.
There's an abundance of pre-loaded apps, and you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd picked up someone else’s phone going by the app menu. If you're not a fan of large quantities of bloatware, the Xperia T is likely to offend.
The big difference in the interface is the Recent Apps multi-tasking. You can switch between and close any apps but there are a few extra buttons. These open 'small apps' which can be dragged around the homescreen or pinned to the side. As standard you can choose from a calculator, timer, sticky notes and voice recorder – handy but not exactly secret agent.
We like how you can customise the keyboard to your personal preference. You can choose a layout, add secondary key functions like numbers and punctuation and choose whether you want voice dictation.
The Sony Xperia T comes with a non-removable 6.8Wh battery. Sony says the handset will last for 450 hours in standby, 16 hours music playback or five hours when watching video.
We found with a varied usage we got comfortably through a day. The large high-res screen does sap the battery so it's likely that you'll need to charge the Xperia T every night – a common thing for too many smartphones. We could get a couple of days out of the device, but only with very light usage.
The Sony Xperia T is a solid effort from Sony – it has a good screen and camera but lacks the excitement we expected from a 'Bond Phone'. Our sample didn’t even include the Bond wallpaper used in the phone’s marketing. In short the handset doesn't seem very alluring when compared with its competition. We’re not saying the Skyfall’s awful and it is cheaper than other brands’ flagship phones. But on value alone the Nexus 4 now out-does the lot at £239.