Sony is pitching the Xperia J as a smartphone which offers "a stand-out screen size for consumers looking to combine great style with affordability".
We reckon Sony has got it right in terms of design, with the curved, rubberised back of the Xperia J fitting snugly into our hand, and the body feel solid and well built.
It looks very similar to its bigger brother, the Sony Xperia T, which sports the same design, however the Xperia J allows you to whip off the back cover, allowing you to access the full-sized SIM port, micro SD card slot and the huge 1,750mAh battery – which should keep you going all day long.
The bright, clear 4-inch screen displays Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich well, with the Xperia UI slapped over the top, and text and images appear sharp and easy to see.
The Xperia J runs Ice Cream Sandwich smoothly and although it may not be as quick as the higher powered Xperia T, it is by no means a slouch, and we didn’t encounter any unexpected lag or slow down.
There is around a second wait when opening apps, but this isn’t long enough to cause concern or irritation, however we did find the camera app did take two to three seconds to load up.
The Sony Xperia J offers you the stock Android keyboard, which is relatively easy to type on thanks to the 4-inch display giving us enough room to hit the right keys, and although it’s not perfect, we could happily tap out emails and messages on it.
To help you snap photos with the 5MP rear camera there’s a single LED flash on the back of the Xperia J, and within the app you also get auto-focus, a handful of scene modes and exposure adjusments – all of which are easy to access and understand.
The auto-focus does take a little time to settle, and if you are quick on the shutter button there can be around a three second delay as the focus sorts itself out, meaning you won’t be able to snap in quick succession.
There’s also a front facing, VGA quality camera on the Xperia J which can be used for video calls, or the odd vanity check, but with the low quality we’d recommend sticking with the 5MP offering on the back for taking photos with.
Unlike the Xperia T there’s no physical camera button on the side of the Sony Xperia J, but you do get a power/lock key and volume rocker switch located at the top of the right side, which are easy to hit when the phone is held in one hand.
Video playback was acceptable for a mid- to low-end smartphone, although we did feel colours were a little washed out, but you could still quite easily watch a movie on the Sony Xperia J, with the lightweight (124g) body and its rubber back making it comfortable to hold for extended periods.
Music lovers will be pleased to learn that Sony has included its Walkman player app on the Xperia J, which we found to be an intuitive and attractive way of managing all your tunes, and with Sony’s xLoud technology on board audio played through the rear speaker is louder and less distorted than on other, similarly priced handsets – meaning you can really annoy people on bus.
There’s no word on pricing other than "affordable", but we hope the Xperia J will land at around the £200 (around $310) mark, putting it head to head with the HTC One V and slightly beefier Orange San Diego.
The Sony Xperia J release date is currently unconfirmed, but we’ve been told it will make its way into stores during the final quarter of 2012.
The Xperia J is certainly a good looking handset, but we can’t help but feel it’s going to be outclassed by the Orange San Diego in the price bracket we expect Sony to put it in.
To say you’re offering an affordable smartphone with a good screen and then pricing it the same as a handset with not only a beefier processor and camera, but also a higher-res screen, seems like a strange way to go.
That said the Sony Xperia J is still a decent handset and if you’re taken by the design, choice of four colours (black, gold, white and silver), and Ice Cream Sandwich out the box then you can’t go too wrong with this mid- to low-range smartphone.