Back to basics with Sony budget phone

The Life: For many, a Sony phone was the transition from the Nokia "brick" to the cooler smartphone, whether it was a BlackBerry or an iPhone.

The Sony Xperia Tipo smartphone. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP
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For many, a Sony phone was the transition from the Nokia "brick" to the cooler smartphone, whether it was a BlackBerry or an iPhone. The Japanese electronics manufacturer failed to retain these customers keen on getting a more sophisticated mobile experience and it seems to continue to occupy this mid-range space.

The Xperia Tipo Dual is a dual-Sim feature phone handset aimed at those on a tight budget. Frequent travellers without the need for a heavy-duty smartphone may find this modest handset a good alternative to carrying two different phones.

Switching between the Sims is simple enough and it recognises which Sim is roaming and which is the native, preventing high-cost roaming charges. You can also track the data usage of both, a handy feature to prevent you from going over your data limits.

It is a small phone, just 103mm tall and is 57mm wide, weighing less than 100 grams, fitting comfortably in the hand. There are three touch keys at the bottom of the phone to let you go back to the home screen and the menu.

The Tipo measures just 8.1cm across the diagonal and has a low resolution of 320x480 pixels. The small size makes it almost impossible to type without typos. One wonders whether the phone was named because of this. Its saving grace is the predictive text.

It is a phone for basic needs - phone calls, short messages and some lightweight casual games and little else. With just a single-core 800MHz processor, don't expect feature-length videos or a rich Web-browsing experience.

It sports Google's Ice Cream Sandwich Android Operating System, which offers a wide range of apps. It also comes pre-loaded with Sony's PlayNow, which offers its own small range of apps. Annoyingly and confusingly, it comes with two photo galleries - the standard Android and the Sony Xperia Gallery.

The camera is so basic and pictures are of such poor quality one wonders why they even bothered including one. The 3.2-megapixel camera doesn't have a flash either

The multiple home-screen option enables you to personalise with widgets including alarm clocks, photos and apps and it's simple enough to flick between them.

There is a micro-USB port on the side for charging the phone and transferring files. While there is 2.5GB of internal storage, the Tipo also has a microSD card slot to expand this amount.

The Tipo offers up to five hours of talk time, up to three hours of video playback or up to 30 hours of music listening. Standby time is a staggering 470 hours.