Google Nexus 4 vs Sony Xperia T/TL

December 24, 2012
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    nexus-4-vs-xperia-t-19

    The Sony Xperia T LT30p (Xperia TL LT30at on AT&T in the U.S.) is a gorgeous device bearing Sony’s unique design, but Sony isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer out there that knows how to design a phone. The LG Optimus G was LG’s latest offering to the market, and it certainly did not disappoint either. Not only was it a powerful phone, it was quite attractive, as well, especially with its glittering backpanel.

    With Google and LG’s collaboration to produce the Nexus 4 E960, you can now find a similarly beautiful glittering backpanel on the latest phone in the Nexus series. The Nexus 4 is a truly attractive phone, enough to match the Xperia T’s sleek lines and curves.

    Looks aren’t everything, however, so we’re taking a closer look at which phone has the brawns and brains to match its beauty. Which of these phones will come out on top? The Xperia T or the Nexus 4?

    Read our comparison review below, or jump ahead to our video review.

    Physical Build and Design

    Dimensions and Weight

    Nexus 4 Xperia T
    Height 133.9 mm (5.27 in) 129.4 mm (5.1 in)
    Width 68.7 mm (2.70 in) 67.3 mm (2.6 in)
    Thickness 9.1 mm (0.36 in) 9.35 mm (0.4 in)
    Weight 139 g (4.90 oz) 139 g (4.90 oz)

    The Nexus 4 and the Xperia T are almost the same in terms of height, width, thickness, and weight. The phones are light but feel right in the hand. You’ll be able to slip either of these phones into and out of your pants’ pocket with no trouble.

    Front

    If you’ve owned a Nexus phone before, you’ll notice that there’s something different about the Nexus 4. Compared to displays on the earlier Nexuses, the Nexus 4′s display is smooth and flat rather than slightly curved.

    Neither the Nexus 4 nor the Xperia T has physical buttons on its front. Navigation is done purely through the phones’ three homescreen buttons: Back, Home, and Menu/Options.

    The Xperia T’s jet black mirror-like front is broken by the silver Sony and Xperia wordmarks at the top and at the bottom. Around the Sony logo, you can find the Xperia T’s notification light, light sensor, earpiece grille, and front camera.

    The front elements of the Nexus 4 are similar to the Xperia T, but no wordmarks or logos are on the Nexus 4′s front. Instead of the notification light’s being located at the top portion of the phone, however, the Nexus 4′s notification light can be found at the bottom bezel.

    The Nexus 4′s front is accented with a silver frame, and has slightly sharp edges. The Xperia T’s jet black front is surrounded by a thin and slightly raised frame but the little space between the frame and the front screen might be the perfect place for particles to gather.

    Sides

    There are no sharp corners and edges on the Xperia T. The sides angle away from the front before they meet the soft rubber of the backplate, contrasting the front’s minimalist industrial look with the almost comforting feel of the back.

    The sides of the Nexus 4, on the other hand, are covered by a plastic silver frame. The edges are slightly sharp, too. If you hold the Nexus 4 too tightly, you might feel some discomfort.

    On the top side of both phones, you can find the 3.5 mm headphone jack and a small hole for the microphone.

    The left side of the Xperia T is where you can find its Micro USB port, while you can find Nexus 4′s Volume rocker and SIM tray on the latter’s left side.

    The Xperia T’s right side is rather busy. At the top portion, you’ll find the cutaway flap for the microSD and micro-SIM card slots. The flap’s hinges don’t feel very sturdy, but the flap snaps cleanly back into place. The Power button, the Volume rocker, and the Shutter button are all placed on the lower portion of the Xperia T’s right side. Their unusual location makes them difficult to access if you’re not holding the lower part of the phone. Only the Power button sits on the right side of the Nexus 4.

    The bottom side of the Xperia T is beveled, angling away gracefully before it merges into the backplate. This is where you can find another microphone. The Nexus 4′s bottom side, on the other hand, contains the Micro USB port and two torx screws which break the phone’s seamless frame design. The screws appear to hold the phone’s chassis in place, but I’m not brave enough to remove them and find out what’s underneath.

    Back

    The back covers of these two phones are elegant but have very different looks.

    The Nexus 4 is all dolled up with LG’s Crystal Reflection Method which, coupled with a black background, gives the silver Nexus 4 and LG logos a cool visual trick. The logos appear to be floating, surrounded by glittering stars. A layer of Gorilla Glass 2 protects the Nexus 4′s beautiful back, but it’s worth noting that while the glass may be scratch-proof, falls will still do damage. The glass cover is also very friendly to smudges, diminishing the back’s aesthetic value.

    You can find the Nexus 4′s 8-megapixel camera and LED flash in the upper-left corner of the backplate. In the lower right corner of the backplate, you can find the thin strip for the speaker grille.

    The Xperia T, on the other hand, is another type of elegance. The backplate is covered by soft, rubbery material that discourages fingerprints from being left behind. The rear camera, LED flash, NFC-certified sticker, the Xperia logo, and the loudspeaker grille are all arranged along the backplate’s center. The 13-megapixel camera, highlighted with silver, juts out a little and makes the phone wobble a little when it’s on its back. The loudspeaker grille is also rather deep, which strikes me as a great place for more particles to gather.

    Another striking thing about the Xperia T is its curved back which makes the phone lean into your hand. The Nexus 4′s back, in comparison, is flat but is not less comfortable to hold.

    Display

    The Nexus 4′s display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2 and is equipped with Zerogap Touch Technology. This means that there are fewer air gaps, making the screen slimmer, brighter, and more responsive. This also makes the Nexus 4′s display more visible under direct sunlight.

    The Xperia T’s comes with Sony’s Bravia Engine technology which enhances images on the screen and reduces noise. When viewing videos, however, dark tones become rather noisy while bright colors look fine.

    The Xperia T’s display showed very bright and vibrant colors, whereas the Nexus 4′s display leaned towards darker yet more natural colors. When viewing HD videos on both phones, there were no problems. In fact, my viewing experience was great, as I could make out tiny details such as grains of sand, drops of water, and fingerprints.

    Processing Power

    Nexus 4 Xperia T
    Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8064 Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260A
    CPU quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
    GPU Adreno 320 Adreno 225
    RAM 2 GB 1 GB
    Internal Storage 8/16 GB 16 GB
    External Storage none expandable via microSD card up to 32 GB

    Two different processors power these phones: dual-core on the Xperia T and quad-core on the Nexus 4. Between the two, I find the Nexus 4′s performance to be smoother than the Xperia T’s.

    There’s a slight lag on the Xperia T when you scroll between homescreens, when you launch apps, and when loading high-definition images. It also worth noting that the Xperia T runs only Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, whereas the Nexus 4 has Android 4.2 and Project Butter. The Nexus 4 also has an additional gigabyte of RAM to keep things running smoothly.

    Playing games was a pleasure on both phones. No lags, stutters, or freezes were experienced while playing HD games, such as Dead Trigger.

    In terms of storage capacity, the Nexus 4 has 8- and 16-gigabyte models, whereas the Xperia T has a 16-gigabyte model only. The good thing, though, is that the Xperia T has a slot for a microSD card for up to 32 gigabytes of additional storage. There is no expansion slot on the Nexus 4, which means that users need to be more careful when downloading large files.

    Benchmarks

    Benchmark Nexus 4 Xperia T
    Quadrant 3984 4631
    AnTuTu 14280 9807
    CF-Bench 10528 9491
    Vellamo Mobile Benchmark HTML5 1131 1821
    Vellamo Mobile Benchmark Metal 550 582
    Geekbench 2 1636 1588
    Linpack for Android Single Thread 39.883 MFLOPS 95.131 MFLOPS
    Linpack for Android Multi-thread 91.866 102.737 MFLOPS
    GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt HD C16Z16 Offscreen 26 fps 13 fps
    GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt HD C16Z16 Onscreen 26 fps 22 fps
    Nenamark 1 58.8 fps 60.1 fps
    Nenamark 2 57.6 fps 60.0 fps
    An3DBench XL 35911 36846
    SunSpider 0.9.1 JavaScript (lower is better) 2298.5 ms 1747.8 ms
    BrowserMark 2.0 1873 2921
    Google V8 Benchmark Suite 1006 1488

    The two phones get varying results when it comes to CPU and GPU performance. Some tests point to the Nexus 4 as more powerful, while others to the Xperia T. In terms of browser performance, though, the Xperia T fared better than the Nexus 4.

    Connectivity

    Both phones can connect to 2G, 3G, and Wi-Fi connections. However, the AT&T variant of the Xperia T, the Xperia TL LT30at can connect to 4G LTE networks. Both phones require a micro-SIM for you to use their phone capabilities. On the Nexus 4, a pin is required for you to access the SIM tray. The SIM tray on the Xperia T is located underneath the flap on its right side.

    Other means of connectivity on both phones include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, and NFC. Both phones also use standards-compliant Micro USB ports and cables for data transfer and connecting to the wall charger.

    Camera

    The Nexus 4 is equipped with an 8-megapixel rear camera, while the Xperia T has a 13-megapixel shooter with a Sony Exmor R sensor.

    The camera apps on both phones are simple to use and offer flexibility to users.

    The camera app on the Nexus 4 comes with some new changes that were introduced in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Tapping the viewfinder reveals the toggle buttons used to adjust the camera. The camera also allows you to shoot 8-, 5-, 3-, 2-, 1.3-megapixel, VGA, and QVGA image sizes. Photo Sphere lets you take 360-degree pictures of your surroundings.

    The Xperia T’s camera app is set to automatically detect your scenes by default, but you can turn off the said feature to enable normal mode, switch to the front camera, or take a Panorama shot. Normal mode lets you use any of the standard camera modes, such as portrait, landscape, and sports. You can also adjust the image resolution to shoot 10MP 16:9, 2 MP 4:3, and 2MP 16:9 images.

    What follow are some sample shots illustrating how the cameras on the two phones fare in a variety of conditions:

    The Nexus 4′s image was rather subdued compared to the Xperia T’s image.

    In low-light settings, the Xperia T produced a brighter and less noisy image.

    The Nexus 4 gave off too much bluish light. The Xperia T flashes a yellowish light that is just enough to brighten up the subject.

    Both the Nexus 4 and the Xperia T have 1.3-megapixel front cameras. Let’s see how these two front cameras fared:

    The Xperia T’s front camera tends to produce foggy images.

    In low-light settings, however, the Nexus 4 produced darker and noisy images. The Xperia T’s image was brighter but still noisy.

    Both phones can capture and record 1080p videos.

    Videos taken by the Nexus 4 resulted in rather dull and washed out colors. Sound recorded were also very sharp and tinny. There is no image stabilization on the Nexus 4, so expect jitter in your clips especially if you have shaky hands.

    The Xperia T’s own videos captured more vibrant and closer-to-life colors, as well as better sound, but the phone’s video capture was a huge disappointment. Out of the box, the Xperia T’s autofocus is rather poor and its autofocus motor is quite noisy. However, Sony recently released an update that quiets the autofocus motor and improves the autofocus a bit. Image stabilization for video capture, even with the update, is bad and leaves you with a jittery clip.

    The Xperia T could capture better colors and better sound, but image stabilization, even when enabled, is terrible and autofocus is difficult. Neither of these two phones could really wow me with its video capture abilities.

    Media Playback

    The video players on both phones are simple and easy to use. Both video players contain the necessary buttons to control your videos. Playing 1080p Full HD videos on both phones is smooth and seamless.

    For listening to your music, the Nexus 4 has the Play Music app while the Xperia T has the

    WALKMAN app. Both music players are flexible and allow you to customize and tune your music.

    Both the Play Music app and the WALKMAN app let you use equalizer presets, as well as personally tweak your music listening experience using 5-band equalizers.The Play Music app comes with bass booster and 3D effect, while the WALKMAN app comes with Clear BASS and xLoud.

    Sound quality on the Nexus 4 is loud enough, but I can clearly hear distortions as I increase the volume. Since the loudspeakers are located at the back, sounds are easily muffled when you lay the phone on a flat surface.

    The Xperia T’s xLoud feature is quite effective and turning it off does significantly reduce the loudness. Thanks to the Xperia T’s curved back, the loudspeaker isn’t covered up when you place the phone on its back, but when you turn the volume up to maximum and when you put on techno and dubstep tracks, you’ll also hear distortion.

    Battery Life

    To power their hardware, the Nexus 4 uses a Lithium-Polymer rated at 2,100 mAh which can provide up to 15 hours of talktime on 3G, whereas the Xperia T uses a Li-ion battery rated at 1,850 mAh that can give you 7 hours of talktime on 3G.

    To put these batteries to the test, I conducted our informal battery test on both devices. I turned on the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS; set brightness to maximum; enabled sync options; and never let the screen to turn off. I looped an HD video for 1 hour. Another hour was also spent for browsing a graphics-heavy webpage.

    From a full charge, the Nexus 4 left us with 50% battery and the Xperia T with 51% after two hours. With moderate use, I think both phones could last up to 8-10 hours but heavier users may want to bring their chargers with them.

    Software

    Nowadays, flagship devices are expected to come with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box but the Xperia T is equipped with only Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Sony, however, has promised to give the Xperia T an upgrade to Jelly Bean sometime in 2013. On top of Android 4.0.4, Sony has added its Timescape UI.

    The Nexus 4, on the other hand, comes with the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and can be upgraded to Android 4.2.1.

    Lockscreen

    The lockscreens of these phones are quite different, though they both display the time and the date at the top of the screen.

    The Nexus 4 comes with the same familiar lockscreen as that on the other Nexus phones. There’s a ring at the bottom of the screen; tap it and swipe in any direction to unlock your phone. You can swipe up from the bottom of the Nexus 4′s lockscreen to access Google Now.

    The Xperia T’s own lockscreen has a slider at the bottom. On the left end of the slider is a lock icon that you can drag to the right to unlock your phone. On the right end, there’s a camera which you can slide to the left to launch the camera app.

    The Xperia T has only one lockscreen, whereas the Nexus 4 has lets you swipe left and right to navigate to different lockscreen pages where you can put widgets such as Gmail, Calendar, and Messaging. That’s not all; you can launch the camera app from the Nexus 4′s lockscreen by swiping to the camera widget.

    The Nexus 4′s lockscreen allows you to easily check for emails and appointments but it doesn’t afford the same privacy as the Xperia T’s own lockscreen does.

    Homescreen

    Both the Xperia T and the Nexus 4 give you only 5 homescreen pages to work with, neither of them allowing you to add nor remove homescreen pages. They both have a dock bar at the bottom of the screen for 4 app shortcuts or folders and a button for the App Drawer in the middle.

    Both phones have a search bar at the top of the homescreen but on the Nexus 4, this search bar persists on all homescreen pages.

    Notifications

    On both the Xperia T and the Nexus 4, you can pull down the notification menu by swiping down from the status bar. Both of these phones allow you to remove individual notifications by flicking them away and clearing all of them with one click. When playing music, music controls appear on the notification menu for both the Xperia T and the Nexus 4. You can also pull down the notification menu when both phones are locked.

    The Xperia T’s notification bar is rather standard, showing you quick toggles for Sound, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Data, and a shortcut for Settings.

    Pulling down the Nexus 4′s notification menu with one finger will show you your notifications but swiping with two fingers will open your toggles menu. You can switch easily between the notification and toggles menu by tapping a button in the upper-right corner.

    App Drawer

    The Xperia T’s app drawer is arranged on a 5×4 grid and does not have a separate tab for widgets. You can easily uninstall apps in the app drawer and arrange them in a number of ways, such as by your own order, alphabetically, the most used, and recently installed.

    The Nexus 4, on the other hand, still features the stock App Drawer of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Your apps are arranged alphabetically on a 5×5 grid but you cannot rearrange them. The Nexus 4 does, however, have a separate tab for Widgets.

    Widgets

    The Xperia T has some standard widgets, such as the Google search bar, weather info, and the music widget. Sony, however, included a lot of its own widgets which emphasize on keeping in touch with friends, such as Timescape Friends, Timescape Feed, and Friends’ Music. To make up for the limited selection of toggles in the notification menu, Sony has included a widget that contains all your necessary toggles, such as Backlight, GPS, Auto-sync, Airplane, Hotspot, Roaming, and NFC.

    The Nexus 4′s widgets are located inside the Widget tab in the App Drawer. Widgets used here are pretty much the same from previous Nexus devices. You can use these widgets to decorate your homescreen and to make certain apps easy to access. The Nexus 4′s widgets are not just limited to its homescreen; you can also place widgets on the lockscreen.

    Personalization

    Since both the Xperia T and the Nexus 4 are Android devices, they allow you to customize the interface in a number of ways, such as:

    • Changing the font size
    • Changing the time and date format
    • Installing third-party keyboard, launchers, and apps
    • Sideloading apps
    • Attaching Live Wallpapers to the homescreen
    • Grouping apps into folders
    • Decorating your homescreen with widgets.

    The Nexus 4, however, has an edge above the Xperia T by allowing users to put widgets on its lockscreen.

    Keyboard

    I found the Xperia T’s Xperia keyboard to be a bit too small for my thumbs, leading me to make errors. Gesture typing, however, is available and is rather accurate.

    The Nexus 4 also uses the same stock Android Keyboard on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with added features. This keyboard now supports swiping gestures that allow you to compose text without lifting your fingers.

    Just like the Nexus 4, the Xperia T has a voice-to-text feature, but the Nexus 4′s feature allows you to use it offline while the Xperia T’s needs an Internet connection.

    Search

    Both phones use Google as their default search engine; however, the Nexus 4 has an advantage because it uses Google Now which is only compatible with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and above. This search app is very fast and smart. It automatically displays results based on your Google data.

    Security

    The Nexus 4 and the Xperia T are equipped with the same security features, such as Slide, Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN, and Password. They also allow the encryption of your phone, and the showing and hiding of passwords.

    Pricing and Availability

    The Nexus 4′s 8 GB variant is available for about US$300, while its 16 GB version is available for US$350.

    The Xperia T is available in black, silver, and white. It is available for about 400 pounds (about US$642) in the U.K. If you’re based in Canada, you can get the Xperia T for anywhere between CA$525 to CA$550. The Xperia T’s LTE variant will be landing in the U.S. with a different model name, the Xperia TL LT30at, which you can get from AT&T with a 2-year US$100 contract.

    Video Review

    Find out more about these two phones by watching our comparison video on YouTube:

    Conclusion

    Both the Nexus 4 and Xperia T have stunning displays, good cameras, good sound quality, and decent processors. Watching movies, browsing the Web, and playing games are perfect on both phones. Although there was a tiny lag on the Xperia T, I think it’s more software-related than hardware-related. Yet, I could also not just ignore that it has only dual-core processing power compared to the Nexus 4′s quad-core power.

    In terms of OS, though, the Nexus 4 has a great advantage over the Xperia T. Who can resist the buttery smooth experience of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean? Performance on the Nexus 4 is very smooth and seamless. The Xperia T has acceptable performance, but I bet its performance will greatly improve once it receives its Jelly Bean update next year.

    Which of these beautiful phones do you think is the best for your needs? Is it the Nexus 4 or the Xperia T? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment and voting in the polls below.

    (with contributions from Alvin Ybañez)

    Google Nexus 4? Or Sony Xperia T/TL?

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    Comments

    • http://profiles.google.com/nicandro.m Nicandro Filho

      I want the Nexus 4… But if you want to get rid of SIII or T Xperia, you can send me. I’ll be very happy :¬D

    • SonyFan

      Xperia T better for me

    • LindaScales

      Now THAT’s a thorough review. I’m torn between these phones. I’m on AT&T and 4GLTE and it’s often a toss-up since it seems to have a wide selection. I have a graphics design firm in New York and my smartphone is becoming like a third arm since the data speeds are so good.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002265748645 Hasnain Maec Abbas

      am a happy owner of Xperia T limited edition (james bond) :D… and mine comes in with 4x smart tags too…. just wanted to update that with the new xperia launcher that was leaked afew days back the home screens r much more customizable as now we can add more home screens up to 7…. the new interface is rather nice and u can make folders even in the app drawer.. i cant say i am biased as i am a “sony guy” and prefer sony products… PS3, Sony xperia T, Sony Headsets… Bravia Tv and sony F series Vaio notebook :) i like the posh feeling of sony compared to the rather cheap and toyish feel of samsung…

    • superseiyan

      I’m torn between these phones. I think the XPeria looks better, and the NFC tagging thing is awesome. For the Nexus I like the wireless charging. I’m a moderate user, I don’t *talk* on the phone much, play games or watch videos, but I use occasional GPS, and I also like to tether the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. I want an unlocked device. Which of this device is a better value at ~$500? Also am I correct in observing that the battery performance of both is about the same?

    • Steven Z

      I want the Xperia T…I don’t care about software because I’m gonna flash a custom ROM anyways. Nexus 4 is nice but I think I would find the glass back annoying, as my mother has one and they had to buy a case for it because it was too slippery.

      Plus the Xperia T has external storage options.

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