We just had a quick chance to play with the new Sony Xperia P, and... it's a slightly smaller riff on the Xperia S packed into an aluminum unibody case. The big draw is the "WhiteMagic" LCD display, which adds an additional stripe of white pixels to the traditional RGB layout. Sony says it's a dramatically better display and allows the phone to perform better in daylight — it certainly looks beautiful, with super sharp text, excellent contrast, and solid viewing angles. It's only qHD, sadly, but it's nice to see a midrange phone with a highish-end display.


Software-wise, you're looking at Android 2.3.7 with a ton of Sony customizations — Sony says it'll deliver an Android 4.0 update in the middle of Q2. Obviously that's disappointing, but there's still some interesting stuff going on: integration with all of Sony's content services, and a zero-lag camera that can go from "sleep to snap" in just a second. There's also the SmartDock with TV Launcher app, which mirrors the phone's display on a TV over HDMI. Output is at 1080p, and you can control the phone with your TV remote over HDMI-CEC. If you've got an older TV, the dock has two USB ports, so you can plug in a wireless keyboard and mouse and control the phone that way. It's all a little clunky and weird since the TV Launcher UI is just a bunch of shortcuts to regular Android apps that look silly on a TV, but it works.

All in all, it's a pretty nice phone, but the skin definitely seems a little fussy, and the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich is always a downer. We'll wait to see how Sony prices the Xperia P before we say much more; the company is insistent that it wants to hit every price point aggressively.