Xperia and LG phones to shake and stir

AT&T has launched two smartphones licensed to kill the opposition with their specifications.

I felt rather like Q, 007’s gadget meister, in testing the Sony Xperia TL (a.k.a. the Bond phone), and the LG Optimus G quad-core, LTE smartphone, available since November 2 for $100 and $200 respectively with their two-year contracts.

The Bond phone, with its movie-themed wallpaper, is known as the Xperia T in the UK. Like the latest Skyfall movie in which it features, it has been available a few weeks before the US debut.

It does not convert into a lethal weapon, nor will it make you a dry Martini, but there are a number of clever features that James Bond might find useful.

Like Samsung, Sony is making a fuss over its smartphones’ NFC capabilities. It comes with an NFC tag in the box, which, when tapped on the back of the phone, reveals Bond options on-screen such as the ability to play the Bond theme or visit an 007 website. These functions can be reprogrammed to carry out other tasks.

NFC still seems gimmicky to me at this stage – exchanging content by tapping phones together only seems to work from Samsung Galaxy to Galaxy and Xperia TL to TL, so I was not able to try this.

The chip should become useful for easier pairing of devices, such as linking headphones to a handset, or pairing with a Sony tablet. Expect more use cases to be revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Nevertheless, there is still an abundance of connectivity in the TL. For example, playing videos from it onto a TV can be achieved with either Wi-Fi Direct, an MHL connector or through a DLNA server. There is also dual-band Wi-Fi and 4G LTE wireless. The TL is a quad-band world phone.

The device has the same 4.6in screen as the Xperia Ion, which I reviewed in the summer, but has some advances in components. It has a 13Mp camera rather than 12Mp, a slightly faster processor and an improved speaker. Software improvements include better editing functions for photos taken with the excellent camera.

The LG Optimus G offers more power at double the price. It has a quad-core processor, larger battery capacity and a 4.7in screen that looks noticeably bigger and brighter than the TL.

However, its camera is inferior – only 8Mp, and pictures taken on the Sony looked much better, particularly those snapped in low-light conditions.

The Optimus G’s power means you can multitask more effectively – the Qslide app allows surfing the web and checking email while watching a video. An NFC chip is on board, but again, it seems of little use at present to ordinary users, although spies could doubtless transfer secret documents easily and movie plots could hinge on its capabilities.