Sony is clearly on the upward trend in the smartphone category. The past few premium releases have been solid-performing, impressively designed and pleasant to use. But there always seems to be one or two parts of the puzzle missing from making an Xperia handset a first-choice option.

If the Xperia TX was James Bond, it would be more Pierce Brosnan than Daniel Craig or Sean Connery. Ruggedly handsome, the device is a pleasure to look at and fantastic to hold. You think it's almost perfect, but then its battery decides to Die Another Day.

And that's a problem for Sony. In a market crowded with handsets like the iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920 and Samsung Galaxy S3, there can't afford to be any loose ends for a premium handset like this.

We liked

The 4.6-inch screen fits the Xperia TX like a sculpted glove, with a stunning 720p picture and sleek finish making it perfect for touching.

The thin bezel and arched back make it comfortable for watching movies and playing games, while the Timescape UI is nice to look at and easy to master thanks to its similarities with stock Android.

Sony Xperia TX review

The 13-megapixel camera is a solid performer in daylight, which can definitely be considered a win despite its struggles with low-light photography. The quick start camera mode is lightning fast, making it one of the quickest cameras we've ever used to wake up from sleep and snap off a photo.

The dual-core processor does a pretty good job of keeping things moving, with no lag or hangups. The fact the battery can be replaced is also a bonus.

We disliked

With a 4.6-inch screen, only offering a 1700mAh battery is lunacy in today's power-hungry mobile world. Even though it is user replaceable, it's still too small to offer a full day of demanding use, and struggles when compared to the 2100mAh offerings found in the Galaxy S3.

More frustrating though is the confusion around the Playstation Certification. Not having the Playstation Mobile app pre-installed is a huge oversight, given the process of actually finding and installing it will be beyond many people.

Given this is a Sony product, there's no excuse for failing to present its Sony properties in a clear, simple manner.

Sony also needs to speed up its updates to the Android operating system. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has been available for months, and yet the company is only planning on delivering the update to the new TX handset by March next year.

Final Verdict

If you look back a few years at the very first Xperia handset and compare it to the TX, you'll be blown away by the current handsets features and design.

It is, without a doubt, one of the best handsets we've ever seen out of Sony's factories, and a strong competitor in a crowded marketplace.

Sony Xperia TX review

But it's not a top tier device. Compared to the offerings from Samsung and Apple, The Xperia TX is just off the pace. There's no feature that makes this device stand above its competitors and shout its supremacy to the world.

Which is disappointing, because there could be. A clearer use of the Playstation branding, a better battery life and a 4G chipset in this phone, and this verdict could be telling you that the world had a new smartphone champion.

And Sony knows it, too, having admitted in interviews that next year, it will have a handset to rival the likes of the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5.

But for now, you're left with the James Bond phone. And while Bond is an amazing hero - he still has his flaws.

It's watching him try and rise above them is what makes him so interesting, just like Sony's Xperia range.