Sony Xperia T3 review

£299
Price when reviewed

Sony has warmed to the theme of ‘bigger is better’ in recent months, and the Sony Xperia T3 is no exception. While the company’s flagship Xperia Z2 made do with a 5.2in screen, the Xperia T3 bumps up the screen size and slashes the price. See also: what’s the best smartphone of 2014?

Sony Xperia T3 review

Sony Xperia T3 review: design

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Xperia T3 for a style-conscious flagship – it has the kind of understated, tasteful design we’re used to seeing on premium phones. The rubberised plastic back panel is grippy, curving up gently towards the exposed aluminium edges. While other large-screened smartphones can end up feeling a little cumbersome, Sony has fitted the T3 with a light and sleek chassis: the phone weighs 148g and measures a slender 7mm thick. As a result, the Xperia T3 sits comfortably in one hand, despite the size of the screen. It feels like a quality piece of kit, too, with only the slightest bit of flex evident in the plastic-covered body.

Sony Xperia T3 review

The premium experience continues when you first turn on the T3 – the 5.3in IPS panel dredges up some luscious images. With a maximum luminance of 533cd/m², the Xperia T3’s display is about as bright a backlight as you’re likely to see on a smartphone. Images have plenty of punch, too, the 1,045:1 contrast ratio helping to serve up bold, lively looking pictures. Sony also makes bold claims about its Triluminos screen technology, which supposedly expands the range of visible colour on the screen. Whatever the cause, however, the Xperia T3 is able to produce rich, saturated colours. Our only very minor gripe concerns the screen’s 720 x 1,280 resolution, which, when stretched across a 5.3in screen, leaves images looking a little less crisp than on rival handsets.

Sony Xperia T3 review: performance

Inside, the Xperia T3 is powered by a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 partnered with 1GB of RAM, and an Adreno 305 GPU pushes all the pixels to and fro. Performance is underwhelming, however. The Xperia T3 completed the SunSpider JavaScript test in a middling 1,410ms, and in Geekbench 3 it achieved single and multicore results of 399 and 1,334 respectively. These are the kind of results we’d expect from budget handsets rather than a £300 mid-range device. Indeed, our current budget favourite, the £100 Motorola Moto G, is also kitted out with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, albeit one clocked at a slightly slower 1.2GHz. The Moto G completed the SunSpider benchmark in 1,442ms and netted Geekbench 3 single and multicore scores of 342 and 1,144 – only a tiny bit behind the faster-clocked Qualcomm chip in the Xperia T3.

Sony Xperia T3 review

Graphical grunt is similarly underwhelming. In the GFXBench T-Rex benchmark, the Xperia T3’s Adreno 305 GPU managed an average frame rate of only 11fps; a result matched by the cheaper Moto G. While there’s enough power to handle most gaming apps, you’ll have trouble getting anything more demanding to run smoothly. In our tests, Asphalt 8: Airborne was only really playable once we dialled the detail settings right down.

We were, however, impressed with the 2,500mAh Li-ion battery’s staying power. Playing a 720p movie with the screen calibrated to 120cd/m² and flight mode enabled, the Xperia T3 chewed through a modest 8% of its battery capacity per hour. That’s significantly better than the Moto G, which used 18% of its battery per hour, and not far behind the kind of figures we’ve seen from flagship handsets.

Sony Xperia T3 review: camera performance & connectivity

The Sony Exmor RS 8-megapixel camera also puts in a reasonable performance. With Sony’s Superior Auto mode engaged, the Xperia T3’s snapper served up crisp, clear snaps in most conditions. Like many handsets, however, the Xperia T3’s sensor struggles in darker environments, and our low-light test shots were bathed with grain and smeary compression artefacts. Out front, the 1.1-megapixel front-facing camera is nothing to write home about, but it ekes out enough detail for quick selfies and video chat.

Sony Xperia T3 review

In other areas, there’s little missing from the T3. Sony has packed in both 3G and 4G support – as well as an all-important microSD slot – and although 802.11ac hasn’t made the grade, the Xperia T3 sports dual-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 4 and NFC. We were a little disappointed that the micro-USB port lacks the MHL support of the Xperia Z2, but Sony has included Miracast for wirelessly screen-casting movies and videos to the big screen. Fitness enthusiasts will also appreciate the presence of ANT+ support, which gives access to a wide variety of sensors such as heart rate, power, speed or cadence monitors for use with compatible apps such as Strava or RunKeeper.

Sony Xperia T3 review: verdict

Sony Xperia T3 review

The Sony Xperia T3 is a promising mid-range smartphone in many regards; the screen, battery life, design and build are all alluringly competitive. However, the T3’s underwhelming performance is, for us, a real dealbreaker. We’d recommend either the Motorola Moto G, which offers comparable performance and screen quality for £100 less, or the Nexus 5, which is superior to the T3 in all respects and currently costs £271. It may be tough to resist the charms of the Xperia T3’s glorious 5.3in screen, but there are far better phones to be had for the money.

Physical

Dimensions 77 x 7 x 150mm (WDH)
Touchscreen yes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1.00GB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 5.3in
Resolution 1200 x 1920

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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