A Sony standalone smartphone is unheard of. But things are about to change as Sony has taken a big step by releasing a phone without the Ericsson name to follow. This is definitely a big moment for Sony and it’s going to be interesting to see how the smartphone performs. Being the first phone in the Sony line, Sony Xperia S has quite a lot of burden on its shoulders as it has to impress to keep the crowd excited. For starters, there is a 12MP Exmor R sensor on the back, so let’s see if it has the perfect combination of specs to woo the smartphone fans out there.
Pick up this phone and you will feel like you were holding the iPhone 4S mainly because of the similarities in their weights. Look a little closer and it gives you the impression that it’s just a slab of boxy material. The back is still given a slight curve like the Sony Ericsson Xperia phones and that feature together with the sharp edges gives good grip. It measures in at 5.04 x 2.52 x 0.42 inches, so it’s not so thick to hold, which is great. The dimensions show that the phone is now narrower. Therefore, albeit being a little longer, we can still manage to get around the screen with our thumb even with its 4.3 inch screen. This is not common for other large phones out there, so users with smaller hands will no doubt love this phone.
In line with the list of firsts, the Sony Xperia S sports the largest screen a Sony phone has ever seen with its 4.3 inch that has a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. Under the screen of the Sony Xperia S phone are the three capacitive Android buttons. Using these keys on the transparent strip that is placed above the icons was no mean feat as the keys are three small dots that are easier to miss than to get spot on the first time. Around the phone are the ports and buttons like the USB port on the left and the standard audio jack on top. Also on the top side sits the power button. On the back of the phone, Sony has placed another new feature that’s unheard of with phones, a 12MP Exmor R sensor. Staying on the back section of the phone, Sony claims it has a dirt-repellent nanocoating. However, from our tests, the back seems to get dirty rather quickly and at the same time it’s hard to get rid of them.
This beast is powered by a dual core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3 processor which also comes with an Adreno 220 GPU chipset to take care of all the graphics needs. Add 1GB of RAM to that and you get yourself a very speedy response from the phone all around.
The Sony Xperia S ships with the UXP NXT interface running atop the Android v2.3 Gingerbread. In line with the attempt to make it the next user experience, this interface comes with quite a few changes both in the visual and functionality side of things. With this interface, all your homescreens have what Sony calls a colorful flow background. Essentially what it means is that you get live wallpaper that stands out even more with this HD screen. There are also no hiccups using the live wallpapers as the processor is up for the challenge. Sony has also given the coloring scheme a change with the Sony Xperia S coming with a nice grey canvass background when you access the settings or notification bar. Even the widgets now have a transparent grey background. Sadly though, there are no new widgets added to this phone although the Recommender app now has a default widget. So now you can see what your friends on Facebook are listening to, watching or downloading. Another widget that sees a change is the connectivity switch widget. Now the widget can rotate and enlarge when you tap on it, meaning it’s easier to pick on the radio that you would like to turn on or off. Sony Xperia S does throw in a new widget in the form of the Power Saver. It gives you the option of setting when it should come on and also when it should exit power saver mode.
So how does the largest ever screen on a Sony phone perform? This screen has a HD resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. Sony Xperia S is truly blessed to have this screen as the LCD screen is bright and also does a great job in color reproduction. The viewing angles are also really wide, which brings for a very nice and complete experience. With Sony’s very own Mobile BRAVIA technology onboard, colors and contrast get an even bigger boost. With a pixel density of 342 ppi, you will face no problems making out small text.
Sony has wowed us with a 12MP Exmor R sensor, so let’s now find out if the camera performs as well as what’s stated on paper. Firstly, starting the camera took very little of our time, which was very lovely. You get various modes including 3D Sweep Panorama mode. If you want to immediately see the results of your 3D shots, use the 3D Sweep Multi Angle panorama mode and you can view the product on the Sony Xperia S itself. Moving on to the camera itself, the photos are very sharp and also produced a great amount of detail. We also loved the white balance on the shots that blended well with the true colors the pictures came with. Taking photos in the dark proved to be cumbersome, so we won’t suggest using it too much in the dark. Video recording is done at 1080p with a rate of 30fps. In layman’s terms, that’s pretty good. Not only that, the videos also came with plenty of detail and produced accurate colors and good sound reproduction as well.
The internet browsing experience was great thanks to the browser found on the Sony Xperia S. The dual core processing speed helped for sure but the high pixel density of the screen made it all the more better. You don’t have to use the zoom functionality too often as things are always so clear and readable even if it’s pretty small. It’s also good to note that the Sony Xperia S has support for Flash. In terms of connectivity, it has all the usual suspects like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, A-GPS, FM Radio, NFC and DLNA. You can also connect it to a TV with the HDMI-out port.
Moving on to how the Sony Xperia S performs, it did a great job with call quality. Voices on both ends were loud and clear. The loudspeaker was outstanding too. The phone comes with the improved lithium-polymer technology that means the phone charges in half the time. The phone comes with a giant 1750mAh battery that will last you a day if you are smart with the way you use the screen. Don’t leave it on if it’s not needed is all we can say.
Pros and Cons
Let’s start off with the basics; Sony Xperia S has great calling quality. The screen is big and it produces high quality HD pictures with very high pixel density. We love the camera as well, it’s great.
The design for the Android capacitive buttons could have been better. We would have loved to see a memory expansion slot as well.
The Sony Xperia S has many firsts on board, and being the first Sony smartphone, it’s definitely one to get.