Video recording is similarly pleasing. Despite its size, the Xperia P is capable of capturing 1080p video, presumably due to the dual-core processor not seen on last year's Sony phones. For our sample, we kept to the 720p setting and the result is a crisp video, with the phone both adjusting to focal and lighting changes quickly.
Performance and battery-life
Sony managed to eke out a respectable performance from its single-core phones, but it's made the change to an ST-Ericsson U8500 dual-core processor here. Our renovated benchmarks prove that it doesn't quite match the dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8260 found inside the Xperia S, but it does give some respectable scores (some less so) that are backed up by our own experiences. Using the Droid RAZR for dual-core comparison, Sony Mobile's new chip choice doesn't quite equal the competition in raw numbers.
During our typical use, the phone kept up with what we needed it to do. It survived our web browsing sessions and lightweight games with relative ease. The SunSpider score reflects our own experiences -- perfectly manageable but not nearly as smooth as other Android phones. It also lacks the graphical punch of the bigger phones. More intensive games could run, but weren't all that smooth. Touchscreen controls on a 4-inch display also felt a little tight in this age of bigger screens. Around 13GB of storage is passable for our apps and photos, but the lack of substantial built-in storage or a microSD slot continues to irritate. That's despite Sony continuing to offer 50GB of free cloud storage through Box if you register the device before the end of 2012.
The Xperia P's 1,305mAh battery isn't able to offer up enough hours of on-time for us, though. In our video run-down test, the phone is only able to eke out just over four hours of playback, with brightness set at 50 percent and WiFi on, but not connected. We found ourselves limiting use of the phone during the day for fear it would run out before we got somewhere to charge it -- something it often did when we were using it outdoors at higher brightness settings. The battery is also non-removable, which makes it an even bigger bind for those that like to add some insurance with extra batteries. We level the blame at Sony's WhiteMagic display. Presumably, those extra subpixels really take their toll on battery consumption. You'll have to balance out superb outdoor visibility against reduced battery life.
The phone runs on quad-band GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900) and HSPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100), with speeds to 14.4 Mbps down and 5.6 Mbps up. In the middle of London, we got speeds of around 4.5Mbps down and 500kbps up -- not superb, but comparable to our other devices in the same location. Call quality is typically strong, with good noise cancellation on busy streets. If anything, the earpiece could benefit from being a little more potent. While our test calls were fine on the other end, we often had trouble hearing their replies in busy situations.
And we're back to another frustration -- the spectre of late Android iterations. Again, we're handed a new phone, in the middle of 2012, with Gingerbread. Fortunately, Sony's own tweaks add some extra functionality to it, but theses certainly don't come close to the slickness and joined-up design of Google's fourth mobile OS version. Features like text selection and task switching are greatly improved on the 2.3.7 build to which Sony has added its own app folder function and some middle-weight Facebook integration that neatly dovetails your contacts there with your phone book. Like preceding Sony phones, the app tray navigates from left to right, with the ability to sort them by frequency of use, alphabetically and freshness. Sony's app bloat and widgets were relatively unobtrusive (with the exception of the McAffee antivirus program) and are complemented by Google's stock versions -- at least we had a choice. The phone also packs similar NFC capabilities to the Xperia S, although it lacks the in-box SmartTags of the bigger device.