Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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First Look. Sony LT30p Mint
Sony wants to make a strong effort to return to the market as a player both with strong and numerous solutions. Xperia S created a uniqure situation for the company, with only one new device available for more than a month with the rest of the same line up appearing on most markets roughly four weeks ago. This time around Sony is trying to create as many devices as possible with many or just a few differences betweebn them offered at different prices to offer one device for every consumer.
LT30p belongs to this new crop of models and along with Sony Tipo and a couple of other new handsets, which are also to be presented also tries to differentiate itself from the design philosophy that was used in Xperia S and all its junior sibblings. Lt30p aims at the high end maket to be placed as Sony's flahsgip for the third quarter of the year. While practically replacing Xperia S in that place, it has very few similarities both in terms of design and features.
LT30p comes with a new design trying to combine all the nice elements from the previous range with some changes, which for the most part are made just to create a new phone. While being a replacement for the Xperia S the phone’s size got smaller and the same applies to its weight. LT30p fits in your hand more easily and can be used with just one hand. The phone’s weight is acceptable for its size and features and can be carried around almost without noticing that you have a phone in your pocket.
The front of the device is where the most significant change is made. Since LT30p comes with ICS on board straight from the box, which is a nice change for Sony all the touch sensitive hardware keys are gone. Utilizing the screen’s increased resolution and size Sony decided to follow traditional ICS approach and provide us with just the on-screen buttons at the bottom. Jusyt above the screen all the usual elements are placed around the earphone. The front camera is accompanied by an ambient light sensor and a proximity one and last but not least there is a notification LED.
On the left side of the device there is only the micro-USB connector for charging and connecting the LT30p with a computer. On the right side now we find all the usual keys in an unusual arrangement with controversial results. The power key, volume keys and the camera shutter key are all placed on the bottom half of the right side. According to Sony this was done to make the use with one hand easier. While in theory that may sound true my experience with the phone was strange to say the least. After a few years now that almost all device manufacturers choose the upper half of the phone for most of those keys I found it hard to get used to the new arrangement. Finding the power / lock key almost at the midlle of the phone was difficult in most cases since I kept touching the phone higher. The volume keys are more annoying since they are placed too close to both the power key and the camera shutter, which makes accidental presses of another key a usual phenomenon.
On the top of the LT30p there is only the 3.5mm earphone socket and the second microphone, while on the bottom there is just the primary microphone. Moving on to the back side of the phone we find the 13 MP camera protruding slightly from the phone with the LED flash placed under it and on the lower end there is the grill for the loudspeaker. The LT30p has no removable back cover and there is only a small rubber flap on the left covering the micro-SIM slot along with the one for the micro-SD cards. This flap at least in this pre-production device is not correctly aligned with the phone and can at times be annoying when holding the phone in your hand. I hope by the time the phone reaches the market this will be fixed.
Lt30p should be a surprise in this aspect since Xperia S had an 1280 x 720 HD screen but the quality left much to be desired in everything else except viewing images and video where the MobileBravia Engine was active. After seeing the screen of the Xperia P and being amazed by its quality I was really hoping for a similar screen when I first saw the phone. Unfortunately LT30p’s screen follows the tradition of Xperia S and fails not only to impress, but even to stay on the same level with other phones from other manufacturers. Although it also has a 1280 x 720 HD resolution in 4.3” and will probably also be marketed as a WhiteMagic screen it leaves much to be desired. Pixel density is extremely good, but that is to be expected from the combination of the resolution and the screen’s size.
Color reproduction is where everything goes really bad even compared to Xperia S in some cases. Black color is always presented with a white hue created by the illumination of the screen and although this effect is always present in LCD screens HTC implementation in One X and even Sony in Xperia P are better. However, it’s in white color and most other colors when the brightness is set to a level above and including the middle from maximum. White color becomes annoyingly bright without any significant quality and all other colors simply appear washed out reminding screens from the past decade. I tried to use the same background image I use in Galaxy S III and HTC One S and got really disappointed from the result, so much so that I decided to change it. Granted AMOLED screens of any kind do have a more vivid color saturation and contrast, but even compared to the One X from HTC the image was far worse. The only available solution is setting the brightness at a lower level, which is not comfortable in most cases, but at least allows to view colors in an acceptable fashion.
And to top everything else the viewing angles are unbelievably small. Anything above 30 degrees produces not only distorted colors, but even a reflective glare from the screen.
Since the phone is not announced yet and with it having a non removable back cover there is no detailed information about the battery’s capacity. However, LT30p proved to be almost as good in this as most other phones using the same platform and screen resolution. Compared to HTC One S the stand by times are shorter since HTC phone uses an AMOLED screen, while compared to HTC One X (at least the LTE version of the phone that uses the same Qualcomm chipset) the LT30p ptovides the same operation time.
In heavy usage scenarios the phone will last for the working part of the day and will need to be recharged in early afternoon. When being less heavy on its features and using it for calls of no more than half an hour, text messages and about one hour of data services of any kind the LT30p will last through the day. Longer stand by times are possible when using the phone more conservatively. However, this is not a probable usage scenario for most potential owners.
Wi-Fi. Lt30p supports all available 802.11 protocols including 802.11n and is extremely reliable in operation and connection speeds.
There is of course an option to use the phone as a wireless hotspot and share your network’s internet connection.
Bluetooth. The 4.0 version of the protocol is supported with all available connection profiles such as Handsfree, Serial Port, Dial Up Networking, File Transfer and Object Push etc.
The average transfer speed is fast and reliable with average speed reaching 1Mbps.
USB. The micro-USB port can of course be used to connect the phone to a computer or other devices. In fact, even though the mass storage protocol is not supported in the ICS updates of older phones, here on the LT30p it is present and works as it should.
There is also support for the USB-host mode in order to connect other devices like USB memory stick, a mouse, etc. The LiveWare Manager application can be used to automatically start a specific application for every kind of accessory you connect to the device.
At least this time Sony managed to keep up with the trends of our time and produce a phone comparable with most other solutions in terms of hardware.
Qualcomm’s MSM8960 used in the LT30p is the same SoC / Chipset used in the HTC one X and the North American HTC One X along with some other devices.
The Dual Core chip is based on the theoretically superior in performance KRAIT core based on the A-15 ARM architecture. Combined with a quite capable GPU it makes for a very good high end solution with extremely good performance in every day use.
Coupled with 1GB of RAM memory the processing power is always more than enough for any kind of task and it easily manages to cope with the increased screen resolution.
Although the prototype nature of the device means that at times there is some lag compared to other phones based on the same platform when the LT30p reaches the stores they will probably disappear.
Sony LT30p Mint:
Samsung Galaxy S3:
Samsung Galaxy Note:
HTC One S:
Sony is one of the last Android phone makers that still bet on the megapixel number for the phone’s success on the market and to justify its price. The LT30p is equipped with a 13 MP camera producing acceptable results even at this prototype stage. However, a detailed review of its performance will have to wait until a newer software version is available to be certain that it reaches a more stable stage.
Sony seems to be following Samsung and HTC policy this time, where older phone do get updates to the newer Android version, but some new features are only added to new devices.
The LT30p has a few new features compared to older phones of the company the updated to ICS.
A feature called “Small Apps” is one of them. When you press the on screen button to see the list of apps there are some extra options to enable on the stand by screen one of those small apps. There is also an option to download more of them from the Google Play Store, but sadly none are available yet.
Some minor design changes are made and several additional customization options areadded like the opportunity to select the style of the on screen keyboard along with a chance to contain only the alphabetical letters or more icons.
As I already mentioned the hardware touch keys are gone and the stock ICS approach is used with the bottom of the screen being always occupied with the on screen keys.The Mass Storage mode is finally supported on a Sony device running ICS and I personally find it a lot more usefull than the MTP mode. The phone also supports external micro SD cards and the User Interface has also some minor changes, which are noticeable. While LT30p is still on the development stage and it has some bugs that needs to be corrected, but it’s also very fast in operation.
While most of these changes are noticeable to people already using an older Sony phone, which was updated to ICS and won’t seem like anything unusual to anyone coming from another phone maker the fact that Sony is at least trying to differentiate its newer phones is welcome.
This time around Sony managed to keep up with the rest of the market and came up with a phone that has all the features its competitors have or at least how it looks on paper. The screen for example is supposed to be very good, but in real life leaves much to be desired in every performance aspect. The same holds true for the camera, but at least we can hope that its shortcomings will be improved until the phone is released on the market. Apart from those two points the platform used is not only capable enough, but it also has a very good power management in moderate use, which gives another plus for the LT30p as it manages to provide good battery life. The design is at least different from the one used on the last company line up with Xperia S and its sibblings. As a first step towards becoming a competitive phone maker LT30p puts Sony right on track.
Sadly though Sony never learns from their mistakes like Sony Ericsson did before them and it will price the LT30p as a flagship device asking for a price range, which is not justified. There is absolutely no way the phone can compete on equal terms with SamsungGalaxy S 3 and HTC One X, and even though this time LT30p is not as weak as Xperia S it still is an inferior device. Perhaps it should be placed along the HTC One S and the rest of devices in that segment, but unfortunately Sony once again thinks that a high megapixel number is enough to sell the phone by itself. They are learning one lesson at a time and probably will correct the LT30p price soon after its release like they did with Xperia S. However by that time it will probably be too late for this phone as well.
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Martin Elm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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