Sony Xperia P Android phone (preview)

Sony Xperia P preview: The latest "next generation" smartphone from Sony

Newly re-branded Sony Mobile hasn't taken long to fill its product portfolio for 2012. It announced the flagship Xperia S Android phone in January and has now added a new mid-range device, the Xperia P.

The Sony Xperia P is just the second phone to be launched by Sony Mobile. In October last year Sony paid Ericsson US$1.45 billion to buy out its share of the Sony Ericsson joint venture. Sony therefore took sole control of the Sony Ericsson brand.

The Xperia P the second smartphone in Sony's "NXT" series, short for next generation. The company is aiming to keep consistency in all of its releases so any new devices in the NXT line will have a similar look and feel. It has definitely stuck to its word: the Xperia P looks remarkably similar to the flagship Xperia S, only a little smaller. The square, block-style design is constructed from unibody aluminium and once again has a transparent band below the screen. This houses three touch-sensitive shortcut keys, with an attractive looking LED above each button.

The Xperia P is a mid-range model with a 4in Reality Display and Sony's Mobile Bravia engine that promises to enhance sharpness, contrast and colour saturation of photos and videos while also minimising digital image noise. A new feature on the Xperia P is White Magic" technology, which claims to use four subpixels for each pixel rather than the usual three. The fourth subpixel used is white, which Sony says makes for a much brighter image. It also claims enhanced visibility in sunlight.

The Xperia P's 4in screen has a qHD resolution of 960x540. With a pixel density of 275 ppi, this should be a great screen for displaying crisp text and an excellent level of detail. As a comparison, the iPhone 4S's "retina" display has a ppi of 326, while the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a ppi of 316, but these are both flagship to-end models: the Xperia P is likely to sit in the mid-range.

The Xperia P has an 8-megapixel camera that uses Sony's Exmor R image sensor. This claims to offer higher sensitivity and less image noise in low light areas than traditional mobile phone cameras. The Xperia P also has a VGA front facing camera for video calling and a micro-HDMI port that allows users to hook the phone directly up to a television.

The Sony Xperia P is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor, has 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory, though there is no microSD card slot for extra storage. NFC (Near Field Communication) is built-in and Sony includes two of its SmartTags in the sales package.

Disappointingly, the Xperia P will originally ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Sony says the phone will be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the coming months.

The Sony Xperia P is available through Telstra for $0 on the $49 Freedom Plan over 24 months. It will also be sold outright through Sony Centres for $449 and through Dick Smith Stores for $447.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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