Sony Xperia T3 review

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
244
inc VAT SIM-free

Decent phone with a large display and super slim chassis, but it lacks something special

Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 5.3in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 8-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 151x77x7mm, Weight: 148g, Operating system: Android 4.4.2

With its large 5.3in screen, the Sony Xperia T3 is bigger than a typical mid-range phone, and it’s even bigger than the high-end Samsung Galaxy S5. It may be big, but the Xperia T3's relatively small price makes it a rather different beast to a typical flagship phone.

The Xperia T3's soft-touch rear and stainless steel frame make a pleasant change from the plastic bodies we often see on mid-range phones. Apart from a large flap on the side for a SIM and microSD card, the rest of the chassis is completely sealed, making the Xperia T3 feel firm and sturdy. The Xperia T3 is light and thin, too, being just 7mm deep and weighing 148g. This figures are impressive for such a large handset.

Sony Xperia T3 display

The Xperia T3’s large IPS display uses Sony's Triluminos TV technology, and Sony says this helps make colours more vibrant and viewing angles much wider. The latter is certainly true, as we could see the screen clearly from a variety of angles without the screen darkening. It was clear when we looked at it almost side on, so you shouldn't have any problem seeing the screen when it’s left lying on a table.

Colour accuracy, on the other hand, was good, but not spectacular. Despite very even coverage across all the major colour groups, our colour calibrator showed the screen was displaying 90.5 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, which is excellent for a mid-range phone. Colours looked suitably rich and punchy in our test images.

We measured a high peak brightness of 551.2cd/m2, which explains why the Xperia T3 produced very clean whites, and why we had no problem using the phone outside. Likewise, our measured contrast ratio of 1,191:1 explains why we could see plenty of detail in our darker high contrast test images. However, the screen's mediocre black reading of 0.46cd/m2 meant that blacks could sometimes look a little grey when we compared the screen side by side with an AMOLED display.

Sony Xperia T3 performance

Inside, the Xperia T3 has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, which is common in many lower-end smartphones. It's a little underpowered compared to the processors in other mid-range phones such as the Motorola Moto X, but unlike other Snapdragon 400-based phones such as the cheaper Motorola Moto G, Sony has increased the processor's clock speed to 1.4GHz instead of the usual 1.2GHz. This meant the Xperia T3 was a fraction faster than its budget brethren in our SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks, as it scored a respectable 1,346ms in Chrome and 1,631ms using the Dolphin browser. The Moto G, on the other hand, was about 100ms slower in Chrome and 200ms slower in Dolphin.

It may seem like a small difference, but the Xperia T3's quicker score translated into much faster web browsing performance. Websites such as The Guardian's home page loaded quickly and we didn't see any signs of hesitation when we scrolled up and down. Likewise, we had no problem panning round the page when we zoomed in.

In this sense, we didn't particularly miss the extra speed afforded by the Xperia T3's similarly priced rivals, but we did notice a difference in graphics performance. Whereas the Moto X scored highest marks in the 3DMark Ice Storm test, the Xperia T3 scored just 5820 or 25.1fps. This also pales in comparison to Sony's older Xperia SP, which scored 54fps in the same test and can still be picked up for roughly the same price as the T3.

This means the Xperia T3 may struggle to produce a smooth frame rate on more demanding games, but its good score of 35fps in Epic Citadel on Ultra High quality settings means it should still be powerful enough to play many titles on the Google Play Store.

The Xperia T3's battery life was much more impressive. With the screen set to half brightness, its 2,500mAh battery managed a huge 12 hours and 27 minutes in our continuous video playback test, which is over four hours more than Sony's own estimate of 8 hours and 14 minutes. This is a superb result for a mid-range handset and puts it on par with the Moto X.

Sony Xperia T3 camera

We were also pleased with the Xperia T3's 8-megapixel camera. Using its default Superior Auto mode, our outdoor shots were bright and extremely well exposed, even in overcast weather conditions. There wasn't a huge amount of detail present, however, particularly towards the outer edges of each shot. The middle section of our photos looked a little smoothed over in places too, but objects closer to the foreground were much more clearly defined than those further away.

As with previous Sony phones, there are plenty of camera modes to try, such as Sony's unique AR effect, which adds fun augmented reality scenes into your photos for extra flair, a timeshift burst mode, panorama mode, a portrait retoucher, and a series of filter effects.

Should you buy a Sony Xperia T3?

The Sony Xperia T3 is a decent smartphone, but if you simply want a phone with a large screen, we think the marginally more expensive 6.3in HTC Desire 816 is a better buy. Likewise, there are other similarly priced phones out there, such as the Motorola Moto X, that outclass the Xperia T3 in almost every way, making the Xperia T3 feel a little average by comparison. Still, if you're after something that's thin and the same size as a high-end smartphone, the Xperia T3 could be for you. 

Hardware
Processor Quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
RAM 1GB
Screen size 5.3in
Screen resolution 1,280x720
Screen type IPS
Front camera 1.1-megapixel
Rear camera 8-megapixel
Flash LED
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage 8GB
Memory card slot (supplied) microSD
Wi-Fi 802.11n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
NFC Yes
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 151x77x7mm
Weight 148g
Features
Operating system Android 4.4.2
Battery size 2,500mAh
Buying information
Warranty one year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT) £244
Price on contract (inc VAT) Free on £22.50-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT) N/A
SIM-free supplier http://www.mobicity.co.uk
Contract/prepay supplier http://www.carphonewarehouse.com
Details www.sony.co.uk
Part code Xperia T3

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