Review - Sony Xperia S


Review - Sony Xperia S
Sony drops the Ericsson to introduce their new flagship handset
Sony Ericsson is no more as the Japanese giants gobbled up the share owned by their Swedish partners earlier this year. For fans of the brand, nothing should really change apart from a more streamlined name on your handset and Sony Mobile is intent on proving that with their latest unit, the Xperia S.

The Xperia range has been pushing out smartphones since 2008 and makes up more than half of all the handsets sold by Sony in recent years, helping to make the Android OS the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Yes, bigger than iOS.

The Xperia S
The Xperia SEnlarge Enlarge
The Xperia S is a significant handset then, coming right on the heels of the rebranding and hoping to recapture the success of forebears like the X10 and the arc. It makes a good case from the off, impressing with its rock solid design that’s more in keeping with the aesthetics of the iPhone4S than the curved design of Sony Ericsson, though you will find a the back curves gently, and comfortably, against your palm.

The Xperia S measures 5 inches by 2.5 and less than half an inch thick, all designed to best show off the stunning 4.3 inch screen which pumps out pixels at 1280 x 720 resolution. That’s 720p for those who are paying attention, something near even TVs weren’t doing a few years ago. The phone is powered by a 1.5GHz dual core processor, marking Sony’s first move out of single core territory. And it makes a discernible difference in use, animations are smooth and the responsiveness lacked the hesitation we’ve come to endure from older handsets.

That processor means pushing full HD video from the handset to your TV is a breeze, especially thanks to the built in HDMI port. You can even capture those images on your own, thanks to the 1080p video recording. The 12MP camera delivers the image quality you’d expect from such a figure, especially in bright conditions. If you’re planning on shooting in dark situations, you really should get yourself a dedicated camera.

The phone looks good and is speedy in operation but a few niggles remain. Like the fact that you’ll need a microsim to use the phone and there’s no accessible SD card for expansion – a shame when you can record such high quality video. Those coming from a Sony Ericsson device will also find the transition awkward, you can’t just copy your contacts to the memory card and swap them, you’ll have to use the Google sync service. And while the transparent bar is an interesting design detail, the touch sensitive keys above it are awkward to use effectively.

Xperia S
Xperia SEnlarge Enlarge
The Xperia S also comes with Android 2.3.7 preinstalled – an aging OS that does little justice to the specs on offer here, especially in light of competing systems. Android 4.0 is on the way, expected some time before summer, but you have to wonder why Sony didn’t just delay the release of the Xperia S until they could ship with the latest software on board.

The Sony Xperia S is a nicely designed and generally functional phone which bridges the gap between the design aesthetics of the now defunct Sony Ericsson brand and the future solo plans of the company. The screen is massive and luscious and the class leading media options remain as impressive as ever while general use is impressively speedy and battery life a pleasant surprise. The Gingerbread OS will soon give way to Ice Cream Sandwich but that can’t fix a handful of hardware issues and the impression that, overall, Sony (under whatever name) has simply made better phones in the past.

7 Stars
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