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Apple iPhone 5 vs Sony Xperia T

Both the Apple iPhone 5 and the Sony Xperia T are great phones, but how do they fare against each other? What are their strengths and shortcomings? Which one you should pick up this holiday season? Find out in our post.
December 8, 2012

Making a catch phrase that sticks and good product placement are some of the best ways to market your product. One could say that Apple has this down to an art. In this case, Apple has dubbed the iPhone 5 as “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.” The iPhone 5 is lighter and slimmer than its predecessors, packs a larger screen with Retina Display, and runs on Apple’s newest A6 chip.

Apple, however, isn’t the only manufacturer out there who knows how to market. Sony has put its Xperia T LT30p in the hands of one of the deadliest spies in media, James Bond. People who have seen Skyfall have no doubt glimpsed this phone in Agent 007’s hand, but a glimpse is all we get. No matter, Sony is marketing the Xperia T (and its LTE variant in the U.S., the Xperia TL) as “the Bond phone.” It’s a fitting title, as the Xperia T is elegant and sturdy, but does it deserve to be 007’s handset?

In this review, take a closer look at the iPhone 5 and the Xperia T LT30p (Xperia TL LT30at), or watched a condensed form in our comparison video review.

Physical Build and Design

Dimensions and Weight

iPhone 5Xperia T
Height123.8 mm (4.87 in)129.4 mm (5.1 in)
Width56.8 mm (2.31 in)67.3 mm (2.6 in)
Thickness7.6 mm (0.30 in)9.35 mm (0.4 in)
Weight112 g (3.95 oz)139 grams (4.90308 oz)

Both the iPhone 5 and the Xperia T have minimalistic and industrial designs, giving both phones their own air of elegance. The iPhone 5, however, is smaller, slimmer, and lighter than the Xperia T. Both phones have a unibody design that feels solid in the hand and doesn’t creak when gripped tightly.


The iPhone 5 and Xperia T feature a minimalistic design on the front. You could probably use their screens as mirrors when they’re turned off.

True to the Xperia T’s simple design, you can’t find any physical buttons on its front. The only things that interrupt its front are the silver Xperia logo below and the Sony logo above. The notification light, earpiece grille, 1.3 MP front camera, and light sensor surround the Sony logo.

The iPhone 5, on the other hand, has far less on its front. You can find the iconic Home button at the bottom bezel. On the top bezel, you can find the 1.2 MP camera and the earpiece grille below it. The phone looks like its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, just taller and slimmer. The front panel of the iPhone 5 is accented with a glossy metallic border.

The left and right bezels on both phones are slimmer than their top and bottom bezels, so users don’t have to stretch their thumb out too far to touch the screen.


The iPhone 5’s sides are surrounded with a bluish-black border whereas the Xperia T’s sides show you where the industrialist look of its front meets the soft touch rubber of its backplate. The iPhone 5’s sides are a lot more angular and sharper, but there are hardly any sharp corners on the Xperia T.

Holding the iPhone 5, I noticed that its edges were slightly sharp. These sharp edges may make the iPhone 5 uncomfortable to hold for some users. The Xperia T’s angled and slightly curved sides are more comfortable to hold.

The Xperia T makes it easier for users to listen to music since its 3.5 mm headphone jack is located on its top side. You can also find a microphone here. The iPhone 5’s top side only contains its Power button.

Where the Xperia T’s left side only contains its Micro USB port, you can find the Mute/Unmute switch and the separate Volume keys here on the same side on the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5’s right side contains the nano-SIM tray which requires a pin to open. The Xperia T’s right side, however, is a lot busier. You can find the cut-out flap for the microSD card and micro-SIM card slots on the upper part, and on the lower part the Power button, the Volume Rocker, and the dedicated Shutter button.

The Xperia T’s beveled bottom side contains only the microphone hole, whereas the iPhone 5’s bottom side contains the 3.5 mm headphone jack, loudspeakers, and Apple’s proprietary Lightning port.


The Xperia T’s backplate is covered in a sort of rubbery soft material that feels nice and gives users a better grip on their device. The iPhone 5, however, has a sleeker and more industrial design.

Glass layers cover the top and bottom parts of the iPhone 5’s back. In between the glass layers is an aluminum backplate, which looks sturdy enough, but it’s definitely not scratch-proof. I have been using the iPhone 5 for some time now and I can see some scratches on the Apple logo on the back. The glitter-littered rubbery material on the Xperia T seems like a good shock absorber, but I think it can also get scratched.

Compared to the flat back of the iPhone 5, the Xperia T’s backplate is slightly curved, allowing the phone to lean back into your hand. The iPhone 5, however, may be easier to use on its back compared to the Xperia T; the Xperia T’s jutting camera housing can make it into a tiny seesaw.

The iPhone 5’s 8 MP camera, microphone, and LED flash are located in the upper left of the backplate, all sitting comfortably on the glass panel. The Xperia T’s own silver-accented 13 MP camera, LED flash, and loudspeaker grille are arranged vertically along the center of the backplate. I’m not fond of the Xperia T’s deep loudspeaker grille, however; it looks like it’s a perfect place to gather dust and other particles.


  • iPhone 5
    • 4.0 inches LED-backlit IPS TFT screen
    • 1136×640 resolution
    • 326 ppi pixel density
    • Retina Display
    • Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Xperia T
    • 4.55 inches TFT capacitive touchscreen
    • 1280×720 resolution
    • 323 ppi pixel density
    • Shatter-proof sheet on scratch-resistant glass

The iPhone 5 and the Xperia T almost have the same screen size, resolution, and pixel densities. Both phones produce crisp and good-quality images on their screens, though I noticed that there was a bluish tint on the Xperia T’s screen. Colors on the Xperia T, however, had more contrast compared to the iPhone 5.

The Xperia T comes with Sony’s Mobile BRAVIA Engine which enhances images on your screen so that they have more contrast and less noise. With the Mobile BRAVIA Engine on, images and videos are brighter and have better contrast. When I turned it off, however, colors looked dull and less intense.

I noticed, however, when watching videos on the Xperia T, on both YouTube and its stock video player, that dark tones were a bit noisy. Details, however, were still clear, so I don’t think this should hinder your multimedia consumption.

The iPhone 5, on the other hand, features the Retina Display which produces sharp and crisp display. Apple takes pride in this display because of its pixel density, giving images on the screen a less pixelated effect.

Outdoors and under direct sunlight, both the phones’ screens remain visible and usable.

Processing Power

iPhone 5Xperia T
ChipsetApple A6Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon
CPUdual-core 1.2 GHzdual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
GPUPowerVR SGX 543MP3 (triple-core graphics)Adreno 225 GPU
Internal Storage16/32/64 GB16 GB
External Storagenoneexpandable via microSD card up to 32 GB

With the market craving for quad-core powered devices, the iPhone 5 and Xperia T seem a little left behind with their dual-core processors. When I got the chance to play with the devices, however, they amazed me with how optimized their processors were.

Performance was smooth and fluid; however, I noticed some lag on the Xperia T while launching apps, scrolling between homescreens, and zooming out from Web pages. Killing zombies in Dead Trigger also came out very good. No lag, stutter, and freezes were experienced while playing the game.

As for storage, the iPhone 5 lets you choose from 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB variants. I suggest choosing the 64 GB variant because you’ll be stuck with that storage capacity. No microSD expansion slot can be found on the iPhone 5.

The Xperia T, on the other hand, only has a 16 GB variant. However, it has a microSD card slot that can take up to 32 GB of additional space, giving you a total of 48 GB memory on your phone. The combined internal and external memory of the Xperia T still can’t match the 64 GB variant of the iPhone 5, though.


iPhone 5Xperia T
Geekbench 216371588
GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt HD C24Z16 Onscreen39 fps22 fps
GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt HD C24Z16 Offscreen29 fps13 fps
SunSpider For Javascript (lower is better)925.4 ms1747.8 ms
Rightware Browsermark22822921
Google V8 Benchmark suite14711488

As far as CPU and GPU processing is concerned, the iPhone 5 scored higher than the Xperia T. For overall browser performance, however, the Xperia T performed better.


If you have 4G LTE coverage in your region, you should probably get the iPhone 5 over the Xperia T. The iPhone 5 is capable of connecting to 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. The Xperia T, on the other hand, can only connect to 2G and 3G networks. Though, its LTE-capable variant, the Xperia TL, is available on AT&T.

In order for you to use the phone capabilities of these devices, you will need to insert a SIM. The iPhone 5 requires a nano-SIM and a pin to open the SIM tray. For the Xperia T, you need a micro-SIM.

Another means of connectivity on the iPhone 5 is via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, it’s very unfriendly to Android and even to other Apple devices. I think its Bluetooth connection is meant for the phone’s accessories.

The Xperia T can also connect to other devices via Bluetooth. You can also share files wirelessly via DLNA compliant devices, Wi-Fi Direct, or through NFC.

To transfer media to your iPhone 5, you’ll need to plug in Apple’s non-standard and proprietary Lightning connector into the Lightning port. You’ll need a computer that has iTunes installed on it to sync content to your iPhone 5.

The Xperia T, on the other hand, has a standard Micro USB port so you can switch and swap your Micro USB cables among your Android devices.


Both phones have front and back cameras. The iPhone 5 carries an 8 MP rear camera while the Xperia T has a 13 MP rear camera that slightly juts out of the backplate. Camera performance for both phones was good and the respective cameras were very responsive.

When taking pictures in bright environments, focusing usually took about 1-2 seconds before both phones took the shot. However, in low light settings, both phones took longer to focus and capture an image.

I definitely give some credit to the Xperia T’s dedicated Shutter button. It feels like using a smaller digital camera. The iPhone 5, on the other hand, uses a virtual shutter button. The iPhone 5 lets you tap-to-focus, but the Xperia T really feels like a smaller and slimmer digital camera. You can tap on the part of the screen you’d like to focus on and you can lock on to that by half-pressing the Shutter button, then press all the way to take the shot.

Both phones’ respective camera apps are simple and straightforward. But I prefer using the camera app on the Xperia T because it allows me to change the image size, focus mode, apply filters, and more. The camera app on the iPhone 5 is pretty simple. The only options here are enabling/disabling flash, grid, HDR, and Panorama. There’s very little else you can fiddle with, which may be fine for some users but not for more experienced mobile photographers.

Here are the sample images taken with both phones’ rear cameras:

As you can see on these outdoor pictures, both phones produced good and crisp images. One thing I noticed, though, is that the image on the iPhone 5 is darker compared to the picture taken by the Xperia T.

There was hardly any difference with these shots. Both phones fared well under well-lit settings.

In low light settings, the pictures taken by both phones were noisy. Images taken on the Xperia T were darker than those taken by the iPhone 5.

To give off light in dark situations, both phones have LED flashes. They really light up a dark room, but I noticed a greenish tint on iPhone 5’s image. It could have been the light reflected from the green Bugdroid.

In case you don’t want to blind someone with the LED flash, you can use the Night Scene setting on the Xperia T to produce good pictures in low-light settings. In these shots, the images are still dark, but less noise can be observed in the image with Night Scene enabled.

On the front, the iPhone has a 1.2 MP camera while the Xperia T has a 1.3 MP front camera. Here are some sample outdoor shots taken by both phones’ front cameras:

And, here are some sample indoor shots captured by the front camera:

The front cameras on both devices also have the same performance as their rear cameras. Image quality is good in bright settings and very noisy in dark settings.

Both phones can capture 1080p Full HD videos. Image stabilization is available on both the iPhone 5 and Xperia T. Image stabilization on the Xperia T, however, is bad and you’re left with jittery video clips, especially when you’re moving while you’re recording. Autofocus is also an issue for the Xperia T as it can sometimes be slow, but the bigger problem I encountered was that the auto-focus motor is so noisy that you can hear it in your captured video.

Media Playback

Both the Xperia T and the iPhone 5 have equalizer presets so you can enjoy a unique music listening experience but the Xperia T has more tools to make your experience truly different. The Xperia T’s WALKMAN app comes with Clear BASS, which lets you tweak the lower sound spectrum, and a 5-band equalizer.

When it comes to sound volume, the Xperia T produces more sounds with xLoud enhancement. Sound quality on the iPhone 5 is not that bad, but it probably couldn’t be heard very well in a noisy room and the speakers can be easily covered by your hand when you hold the iPhone 5 in portrait.

For watching movies, you have the Video app on the iPhone 5 and Movies app on the Xperia T. Both are simple and straightforward video players that play up to 1080p videos. I like the design and layout of the Movies app on the Xperia T. The app makes mini posters of your movies and enlarges the font size of the video’s title, making it feel like you’re in a cinema.

You can also watch videos on the phones’ respective gallery apps: the Photos app on the iPhone 5 and Album app on the Xperia T. Videos viewed in the Photos app has a storyboard on top, instead of the usual progress bar, that allows you to skip to certain parts of the video. You cannot find this on the Xperia T.

Battery Life

The iPhone 5 has a Lithium-polymer battery rated at 1,440 mAh. This battery is said to last for about 8 hours of talktime on 3G. The Xperia T, on the other hand, uses a Lithium-ion battery rated at 1,850 mAh. The battery is said to last for about 7 hours of talktime on 3G.

Because of their unibody designs, neither the iPhone 5 nor the Xperia T’s batteries can be removed and replaced. You can expect your phone to get warm during some heavy use, but the iPhone 5 may get hotter because of its aluminum back.

We subjected these phones to an informal battery test. We turned on the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and auto-sync options. Brightness and Volume were also turned up to the highest levels, and the phones’ screens were not allowed even a moment’s rest. The first part of the test involved playing a video on loop for a whole hour. The second part involved browsing a graphics-heavy website using the device’s stock browser for another hour.

Two hours later, the iPhone 5 walked away with 59% of its juice left. The Xperia T’s own battery had been whittled down to 51%. With light use, I think both phones can last for a day, but you may want to bring your charger with you, just in case.


The iPhone 5 runs iOS 6 out of the box and can be upgraded to iOS 6.0.1 for improvements and fixes. The Xperia T, however, is a little left behind among Android devices. It comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box with Sony’s Timescape UI on top. Sony, however, is planning an upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean sometime in 2013.


The iPhone 5 and the Xperia T have slightly similar lockscreens and can be unlocked by sliding their icons across their sliders. They both have the time and date on top, and the slide-to-unlock feature at the bottom.

Next to the iPhone 5’s iconic “slide to unlock” slider, there is a camera icon. Drag the icon upwards to launch the camera app from the homescreen. Double click the iPhone 5’s Home button to access the music control buttons on the upper right portion of the screen, and long-press it to launch Siri, all without unlocking your phone.

The Xperia T’s slider is a little different. There’s a lock icon on the left end and a camera icon on the right end which you can slide to the left to launch the camera app. If you’re listening to music, music controls will appear on the upper part of the screen.


The iPhone 5, like most Apple devices, focuses on instant accessibility. Apple has integrated the iPhone 5’s homescreen with its app drawer, so that once you unlock your device, you can find all your apps. There’s a dock bar at the bottom of the screen which allows you to place only 4 app shortcuts or folders.

The Xperia T, on the other hand, is like most Android devices. Unlocking your device shows you your homescreen where you can put your widgets and your app shortcuts. There’s a dock bar at the bottom of the screen, which also allows you to add four app shortcuts or folders. In the middle of the dock bar is the icon for your app drawer.


Swipe down from the top of the screen to pull down the iPhone 5’s Notification Center and the Xperia T’s notification menu. The Xperia T allows you to check your notifications while your phone is locked. On the iPhone 5, you can see your Push Notifications but you cannot pull down the Notification Center.

On the iPhone 5’s Notification Center, you can find the Weather and Stock Exchange widgets, but if they get in your way, you can remove them. Notifications are grouped according to apps, which also means that you cannot dismiss individual notifications. You can only clear all notifications associated with an app, but you cannot clear all the notifications in one go. The iPhone 5 lets you choose which apps can display their notifications in the Notification Center.

There are no widgets on the Xperia T’s notification menu, but you do have quick toggles for Sound, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Data, and a shortcut to Settings. You can dismiss individual notifications by swiping them away or you can tap Clear to get rid of all your notifications. If you’re playing music, music controls will appear on the notification menu.

App Drawer

The iPhone 5’s homescreen doubles as its app drawer, giving you instant access to your apps. The Xperia T’s app drawer can be accessed via the grid icon in the middle of the dock bar on the homescreen.

Both the iPhone 5 and the Xperia T let you uninstall apps directly from the app drawer. You’ll need to manually arrange your app icons on the iPhone 5 but the Xperia T lets you choose different ways to organize your apps.


Since the Xperia T is running Android, you can enjoy placing widgets on your homescreen. The phone also includes stock Sony widgets such as Friends’ Music, Timescape Friends, and Timescape Feed. You can even place toggle button widgets to instantly enable/disable features right on your homescreen.

As for iOS 6 on the iPhone 5, you cannot place widgets on its homescreen; however, you can enable/disable stock widgets on the notification menu. You can place a weather and stock exchange widgets courtesy of Yahoo! on your notification menu. When logged on to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, you will also find a mini widget that allows you to update your status right on the notification menu.

The Xperia T has something unique lurking in the Multitasking button. Small Apps are, literally, small apps that you can launch and keep on top of your screen while you do something else. The Xperia T only comes with the calculator, voice recorder, note, or timer apps, but you can install additional ones from the Google Play Store.


One of the perks of Android is customization and personalization. Here are some of the things you can do on the Xperia T to personalize your experience:

  • choosing from a variety of stock themes
  • applying live wallpapers
  • choosing additional keys, skins, and layouts for your keyboard
  • personal dictionary
  • third-party apps, launchers, and keyboards
  • customizing notification alerts
  • scaling fonts
  • enable/disable BRAVIA Engine and xLoud
  • 5-band equalizer and Clear BASS
  • changing stock keyboard layout and skins
  • grouping apps into folders
  • replacing and customizing app shortcuts on the dock bar

The iPhone 5, too, can let you alter some small things on its UI such as the following:

  • change and apply stock wallpapers
  • change ringtones and notification alerts
  • set time format
  • enable/disable notification of certain apps
  • choose 3 different notification Alert Styles
  • rearrange apps on your homescreen
  • group apps into folders
  • change apps on the dock bar
  • change the search engine to either Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.
  • customize notification alerts and style


The iPhone 5 and the Xperia T feature simple keyboards that are easy to use. Both keyboards were a bit of a challenge for my big thumb since I’m used to typing on larger screen devices.

You can go hands-free with voice typing, but you’ll need the Internet for both of them. The Xperia T’s keyboard also supports gesture swiping; I found that it’s rather accurate even when my thumb was all over the keyboard.


You can easily access the search app on both these devices. The iPhone 5’s Search app can be found by swiping to the left of the homescreen; if you don’t want to type, you can long-press the Home button to activate Siri.

You can ask Siri for directions or to compose your text and even send it to your contact. The Xperia T has a Google Search widget on its homescreen but no virtual assistant.

The search app on the iPhone 5 and Google Search on the Xperia T both let you search for information on the web, but they also let you search for content on your device. You can also choose which items to include in the search, such as emails, contacts, applications, videos, and the other content on your devices.


You can secure your iPhone 5 with a Passcode Lock. If you’ve enabled simple passcode, you’ll need to enter a 4-digit code. Disabling Simple Passcode lets you use an alphanumeric passcode. You can enable the iPhone 5 to wipe all your data after 10 failed attempts.

If you lend your phone often to your children or to nosy friends, you can restrict some apps and features on your phone. To be able to access them again, you’ll need to enter your Passcode. Apps also require your Apple ID password when you download them, thus preventing installation by other people.

If you’ve lost your iPhone 5, don’t worry. Install Find My iPhone on another iOS device and you can locate it. If all hope is lost, you can lock your device remotely or delete all its content.

The Xperia T comes with the standard Android security features, such as Slide, Pattern, and Face Unlock. Thanks to the Xperia T’s front camera, Face Unlock worked without a hitch even when I was indoors. You can also set up a PIN or an alphanumeric password that should not be less than 4 digits long but not longer than 17 digits. You can also encrypt your Xperia T and each time you power it on, you’ll need your passcode to decrypt it.

Pricing and Availability

The Xperia T is available in black, silver, and white. It is available for about 400 pounds (about US$645) in the U.K. If you’re based in Canada, you can get the Xperia T from anywhere between CA$525 to CA$550. The Xperia T will be landing in the U.S. with a different name; you can get the Xperia TL LT30at from AT&T on a 2-year US$100 contract.

The 16-gigabyte model of the iPhone 5 costs about 530 pounds (about US$850). It is also available in 32 GB and 64 GB models that cost 600 pounds (US$965) and 700 pounds (US$1,125), respectively. For carrier locked phones, the iPhone 5 will cost US$199, US$299, and US$399 for a 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB, respectively.

Comparison Video

Find out more about these two phones in our brief video review on YouTube:


The iPhone 5 and Xperia T are good phones. They have good cameras, optimized dual-core processors, good displays, and smooth and fast operating systems. Both phones are almost on par with each other in terms of hardware performance.

Although both phones have nearly similar performance, both differ in what you get from their respective operating systems. The iPhone 5 runs iOS 6 and you can find Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich on the Xperia T.

The iOS 6 is a simple and clean OS. Using the interface is a no-brainer. If you’re used to using iOS devices, the difference between the previous iOS version and the current one isn’t big enough to make you go “Wow.” Even the iPhone 5 looks almost identical to its predecessor, the iPhone 4S. I would simply describe this OS as simple, clean, and easy to use.

The Xperia T, on the other hand, runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with Timescape UI. The Android OS mostly speaks about personalization. There are tons of third-party launchers, apps, or keyboards that change some UI elements. You can also decorate you homescreen with widgets.

Unlike the iPhone 5, the Xperia T’s camera app allows you to change the focus mode, add filters, and even change the image size. What’s more is that this phone is yet to receive Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. I would say this OS is simply fun and challenging.

Ultimately, it’s up to the you to decide which phone to pick. If you like a simple, clean, and easy-to-use device, the iPhone 5 is the device for you. If you love a device that is fun, customizable, and allows personalization, you may find yourself holding the Xperia T.

Which phone do you think is better for you? The iPhone 5 or the Xperia T? Tell us by voting in the polls and leaving a comment below.

(with contributions from Dan Evans and Elmer Montejo)

[poll id=”190″]