Sony has produced another impressive smartphone that offers the functionality and performance we're looking for in a top-level handset.

That being said, when compared with the earlier Sony Xperia S, or some of the other flagship Android handsets, the difference is negligible.

And it's now been usurped by the Sony Xperia Z, which is a much better phone, albeit far more expensive and larger to hold.

On the other hand, if you're looking for your first smartphone or hitting the end of a two-year contract this is an excellent choice.

It's got the looks and the performance to turn heads, and with Android 4.1.2 now on the device everything runs a lot more smoothly.

We liked

The Xperia T is, in our opinion a good looking and functional smartphone. We're not just throwing that out there because of the James Bond connection, but in fact Sony has long been turning out attractive gadgets.

The glossy black front and silver aluminium back give it a stylish, premium look and the sculpted back keeps the handset thin while giving you a good grip when you use the device in landscape mode.

The thin bezel is great for watching movies and playing games. Speaking of games – the option to supplement Google Play with PlayStation Classics is always going to win points in our book.

Despite opting for a dual core processor over a quad core option, the Xperia T doesn't lag and navigating the interface is smooth and easy.

Apps load up quickly and the Timescape skin differentiates this from other Android handsets.

Probably the standout feature is the combination of the 13MP camera and the Reality Display Bravia screen. While the screen attracts dust and debris like nobody's business, it's also impressively bright with excellent colour reproduction.

Similarly the camera produces some great pictures and could effectively replace your compact for those quick, point-and-shoot pictures.

The addition of the quick-capture feature is a nice one and, although we could have done with a few extra modes and features - the camera is a standout part of this smartphone.

We disliked

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The Sony Xperia T only packs in 16GB of storage space. Considering the older Xperia S had 32GB of space this feels like a step back.

While we're on the subject of the Xperia S, that smartphone has many of the same specs and features as the Xperia T. Sony appears to have handed us an iPhone 4 to 4S-type of update - which is to say evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

The screen resolution and processors are virtually identical and so are many of the first party apps and media players.

What has changed slightly is the size, weight and shape of the phone – all for the better but not enough to really demand a purchase.

While Sony is busy hyping up the NFC compatibility, we're not sure the average user will find much of a use for it.

That's not to say it's a pointless feature, but it has yet to really show us a killer reason to choose an NFC-powered phone over a non-NFC handset.

As a side note, if you're heavily into the Sony ecosystem – that is you have a Bravia TV, PlayStation 3 or Vaio laptop, you'll benefit from some of the interconnectivity that Sony is finally starting to implement.

Final verdict

The Sony Xperia T is a very, very good phone. Everything about it is slick and well-executed and the performance is certainly what we expect from a now-£300 device.

However, the Sony Xperia S was a very, very good phone, and the Xperia Z is also a very, very good phone. When a new model comes out, we look for it to improve upon the previous one and unfortunately, hand on heart; this doesn't improve on the last generation of smartphones as much as it should - and pales in comparison to its successor.

Admittedly, it's not about simply ramming higher specs into a thinner and lighter phone – we've moved past that now. But it should be about offering a fresh experience with new features and offering us a die hard reason to shell out for an upgrade.

But with the lower price it's now a real find, and we urge you to check it out if you're not after one of 'them expensive phones'.