Sony Xperia S Review
Sony is starting fresh after 10 years of marriage with Ericsson, and thus the Xperia S marks a whole lot of firsts for it. It is the first handset branded simply “Sony”, as well as the first with the new “Iconic Identity” design of the renamed Xperia NXT line.
That’s the big picture, but the device itself also consists of elements that have never been in a Sony smartphone, like an HD display, multicore chipset and microSIM card slot.
Most would be satisfied with so many firsts, but not Sony - it also gave the handset a very capable 12MP Exmor R sensor on the back, and hopefully started a trend by shipping it with the generous 32GB of internal memory.
Did the company succeed to raise the bar with its first Sony phone, something that it badly needs to drum up excitement around the new Xperia line, or is the Xperia S plagued by the typical for such initial efforts teething problems? Read on to find out...
In the box:
- Wall charger
- microUSB cable
- Warranty and information leaflets
- Sony in-ear headset
The phone looks like a boxy slab, especially our black review version, yet it weighs close to the iPhone 4S, and when picked provides a firm grip precisely because of the sharp edges. It still offers the slightly curved back of the former Xperias for added grip comfort, but its matte plastic is a bit slippery, so the phone not being overly thin as some other anorexic handsets helps to grip it tight.
dirt-repellent nanocoating, but the back actually gets blotched really quickly with skin grease even if you don’t peruse it along with chicken fingers. The stains tend to stubbornly stay even if you wipe it afterwards, until they dry out, and the back is also prone to microscopic scratches from everything but a mirror surface. The boxy phone has this rugged good looks, though, so no biggy.
Sony has gone with the narrower but more elongated design that first appeared in the Xperia arc, and which we very much appreciate, as it allows your thumb to reach almost everywhere on the screen, despite its 4.3” size. Even if your hands are not as large, you’ll still be able to navigate fairly comfortably the interface with one hand, compared to most other big-screen phones that come wider.
Speaking of one-handed operation, the Xperia S offers good weight distribution, without the most of it concentrated in the upper part around the camera module, as is so often the case. Thus we weren’t worried that it might tip over when we push it up a bit to press the three capacitive Android buttons under the display.
We had a ho-hum experience with these buttons - the transparent strip that is a trademark of the new Xperia line lights up with the Android navigation symbols like a back arrow or home, but the keys are three teeny-tiny dots above the respective icon lit up in the strip, and are very easy to miss. You have to tap precisely on the miniature dot, and they are not very responsive to boot, making us tap two or three times to register an action very often.
Looking around the sides we barely notice any buttons and ports, since they are in the color of the chassis, and the microUSB and microHDMI ports are covered with protective flaps with the same paint too. These flaps were another small gripe we had with the design - they are pretty hard to pry open, especially if you are the nail-biting type, and even harder to push back in, but they should break in with time.
The volume rocker and the two-stage camera key on the right, as well as the lock/power button at the top are distinct to find and tactile. We wish that Sony placed the volume rocker top right under our thumb, instead of putting the HDMI port there, which is not used as often. The rocker in the middle of the right side now tends to be operated with the thumb joint instead of the tip.
largest display Sony has every placed in a phone on the Xperia S as another “first”. It is 4.3”, and will be beat only by AT&T’s Xperia Ion as far as the Sony stable is concerned. As a sign of the times, the HD display is of 720x1280 pixels of resolution, and is worth every penny the company paid for it to be made.
The LCD screen is bright, with popping colors, and viewing angles that barely degrade the image all the way up to 10/170 degrees. Sony has included its Mobile BRAVIA engine that boosts colors and contrast while watching media, which can be turned off. The touch layer is very responsive and registers even the slightest finger tap.
Brightness is above average, so outside visibility will only be an issue if the sun shines directly onto it. We are still taken aback by such a high pixel density, despite already reviewing a few phones with HD displays - the amount of detail still manages to wow us. Maybe it’s because in the Sony Xperia S we have 342 ppi pixel density, one of the highest of all HD mobile screens, since most others are bigger. Crisp small text, no icon jaggies, great readability even for zoomed-out websites - HD displays are definitely the way to go, and the Xperia S has a good one.
Drag the picture or use the keyboard arrows to rotate the phone.
Double click or press keyboard Space to zoom in/out
2. Mozarrt (Posts: 297; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)
Could you at least tell us why you think its a phone for 2011.
7. leftheodo (Posts: 68; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
- Android 2.3 not ICS
-2011 CPU ( Snapdragon S3 not S4 )
-2011 GPU (Adreno 220)
The 2012 phones will be out in april ( One X, Optimus 4x, possibly GS3 as the korean ZDnet mentioned today)
Xperia S is a nice looking phone but Sony is to late!
54. Commentator (Posts: 2494; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
There must be a lot of Sony fanboys out there voting you down, because everything you said makes perfect sense, especially the point about its S3 processor. What differentiates this from, say, an HTC Rezound?
94. SalmanAhmad (Posts: 2; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)
ICS upgrade is now available and the phone will get Jellybean soon hopefully.
2011 CPU Snapdragon S3? I have the phone and it barely lags and it is extremely responsive.
Adreno 220 and 225 isn't that much of a difference.
The phone has amazing PPI, great graphics, fast processor 1GB of RAM and is made out of durable materials.
Last but not least it's much less expensive than all phones of 2012(One X, Optimus 4x, GS3.)
It also features an amazing camera, how I know all this? I bought the phone about a month ago.
96. nsnk86 (Posts: 43; Member since: 18 Jun 2012)
i totally agree with you Salman!! am using this phone for more than 4months......
12. metoyou (Posts: 278; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Sony always late in smart phone, they now release this phone in 2012 and will release quad-cores in 2013..hm...
But I do like this phone design but not gonna get it IF it has S4 in it then it's another story. btw. reviewer is correct the capacitive buttons arent really repsonsive (friend have this fone)
95. SalmanAhmad (Posts: 2; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)
The buttons are a bit unresponsive at first but once you get the hang of it they aren't really a problem.
If you can't find the appropriate place of the buttons, slowly swipe upwards with your finger on the buttons and you will eventually find their places and it won't be a problem any longer.
23. darknight307rc (Posts: 7; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)
and what are u guys "Quadcore lovers" gonna do with a quadcore "cellphone"? work with "Auto CAD" or "Adobe photoshop" on ur cell phone??? what do u really use ur phone for other than..calling of course..surfing the net..music..photo or video shooting..check ur mail...gaming & stay connected to facebook or twitter. all that can be simply done by only a single core & 512MB RAM...even Android itself as an OS it doesn't need more than this to operate fast. and here is a phone with dual-core & 1GB RAM which will make any app goes very fast plus a 12 MP cam captures photos from sleep mode to shooting in less than 1.5 secs which makes it the fastest phone in market. it's just not about putting in a phone the latest tech or specs. if u really need the quadcore or the 3 or 5 GB RAM in ur phone for ur daily life tasks...wait for the GSIII or HTC one X. but with all respect the Xperia S is not an old one..it's fits all the needs & even more for a Smartphone in 2012
93. nsnk86 (Posts: 43; Member since: 18 Jun 2012)
i totally agree with you darknight307rc.... if u guys wanna spend all d cash for a quadcore phone with like 2gb ram, instead you can get an ultrabook or a gud laptop coz it wil hv bigger display & using all these latest specs in a laptop will prove much useful....
3. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
so let me get this straight, every other phone that launches with 2.3 gets a con and points taken off but this one doesn't? Hypocritical if you ask me
30. RamyRamz69 (Posts: 390; Member since: 12 Dec 2011)
Perhaps because Sony's version of Gingerbread allows much more customization than the normal GB.
Or maybe because this deice will be upgraded to ICS before other devices hit the shelf.
5. Mozarrt (Posts: 297; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)
Why get an ugly platic slab if you can have this. Only the Nokia 800/N9 rivals this handset in looks.
6. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
i personally think it looks like a decent phone and great scores for the processor its using mostly because crapdragons are horrible
18. Chronos (Posts: 258; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)
Only because that "ugly plastic slab" looks better than the Sony Xperia S.
28. ivanprskalo (Posts: 117; Member since: 09 Dec 2010)
It is not. These matters are personal oppinion and please keep your to youself, or else... :-)
8. Giggity (Posts: 147; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)
Is the S also sports the aluminum body like the P?
26. r41nier (Posts: 63; Member since: 13 Oct 2011)
no, it's just plastic but it does have an anti-stain UV nano coating
9. robocopvn (Posts: 212; Member since: 10 Mar 2010)
Need to mention that Sony Xperia S and brothers still you S3 snapdragon, which is outdated comparing to S4 used in many phones and tablet
Sony seems to be so slow on upgrading their hardwares ! But I love their designs
40. bayusuputra (Posts: 943; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)
but it is better in most benchmarks than the S2.. i think it's not whether it is outdated, but whether Sony could optimised it in this handset, which i believe they did..
52. robocopvn (Posts: 212; Member since: 10 Mar 2010)
Qualcomm SOC always get better points in benchmarks apps. But in games and real apps, their GPU is worse than PowerVR :D
11. Aaron_R96 (Posts: 198; Member since: 22 Jan 2012)
Firstly, I disagree that its a 2011 phone, sure it has many of the same specs of the galaxy s2 and the likes, but has a better screen and camera by far, also those moaning it has no quad core processor, I dont see why it would need one, particularly ifit runs so well on dual core, just because the technology is available, doesnt mesn it needs to be used, it wont make anawful lot of difference to theaverage phone user anyway, plus it looks on of the best devices recently released, the one x looks like your typical htc device anyway, lacks creativity, tbh, id much rather show this off. Sorry.
20. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
have the s2 and agree that quad is not necessary but the should have atleast used the new s4 dual core instead of last years s3. love the design of this but hate the fact that the capacitive buttons seem unresponsive,hopefully can be fixed via software and oh the charging speed of this phone looks awesome,the s2 takes forever to charge and is the only negative of the s2. cant wait to have a play round with the s,brithers already ordered it but for me i am waiting for the s3.
22. Aaron_R96 (Posts: 198; Member since: 22 Jan 2012)
Yes they should've done I do agree with that point, just see quad core as a tad unnecerssary for the casual user, but S4 would have been preffered and yes, it is also a shame about the capacitive buttons too, but currently deciding between this and the Xperia P, so looks like that'll be an issue for me either way!
78. itiswhatitis (Posts: 423; Member since: 23 Jan 2012)
believe me i've tried it at the store the capacitive buttons are no way unresponsive its just the review opinion, i mean i dont even need to try its like everything else!
13. bolaG (Posts: 468; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)
If this would have come out in Nov of last year I would have been all over it :(
Love the design
Love the camera quality and functions
14. 24984 (Posts: 3; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
:D are you joking? :D sony is always late but it makes the best smartphones ... this sony has adreno 220 it means it has best GPU after tegra 3 ... tegra 3 is a bit better (I have sony ericsson xperia mini with adreno 205 and I can play GTA3, 9mm, real racing 2 and so on) ... camera is verry good and functions are the best ... interface looks good too ... this is the best smartphone now!!!
55. corrifa (Posts: 34; Member since: 28 Sep 2011)
ehh the Mali-400 id say is at least a little better than the Adreno 220. Ive used both...
15. 24984 (Posts: 3; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
and sonys quality is the best ... even other companys agree with this ;)
16. Jyakotu (Posts: 823; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)
Android users really should stop acting like all new phones will have the latest version of Android installed on it. If you look at past history, every time a new version if Android comes out, most newer Android phones ship with the LAST version instead of the latest. There are still many fews shipping with Android 2.2 and NOT 2.3, so hush.!
But for the phone itself, it's absolutely gorgeous. I love the interface and you can hardly even tell that it's Android.! Sony is known for quality and I think once people try their smartphones, they'll start to gain momentum. Also, I'm SO glad to see just SONY on their phones now. :-)
21. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
also people got to realise that most of these new devices were being made with 2.3 in mind as that was what was available up until the end of last year..if these companies were to start from scratch to optimised 4.0 then these phones would not be coming out till the latter end of the year. lol agree sony looks much much better than se.
17. redmd (Posts: 909; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
Very nice review Daniel. I just wish this came out months earlier.
19. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
Well if you couldn't care less about chips and just want a great camera, great design and a great screen then this can't really be beat. I would still take something like the One S or X over it though.
24. nagirodu (Posts: 12; Member since: 13 Jul 2011)
Why can't you guys just go through the benchmarks and other stuff to see what Sony has done in additional to the other manufactures who made phones with the same SoC to get the best performance? Sony beats them hands down.I think it's all about optimization of resources.
41. bayusuputra (Posts: 943; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)
no brain,no helpful comment? dont listen to it.
27. nikhil.agrawal88 (Posts: 18; Member since: 01 Mar 2012)
already preordered this beauty..have been waiting for a good sony device from long time..always have been a sony fan weather its a phone or any other electronic equipment..and about the quad core thing it really depends on the person i think..an extreme gamer would need a quad core but again no quad core specific games are out yet..so personally i think dual core is fine with me..i had been using ios and wp7.5 from long time and this actually will be my first android..just waiting for this to arrive now..
29. RamyRamz69 (Posts: 390; Member since: 12 Dec 2011)
If you need a quadcore SoC in a portable device to play proper games; buy a PS Vita.
I don't really give a crap whether it's S3 or S4 as long as its fast enough and that's also what 90% of the buyers care about.
Amazing device Sony.
31. ReturningToNokia (Posts: 130; Member since: 09 Jul 2011)
The physical design/aesthetic of this device is very appealing, only to be degraded by the unappealing Android OS (not even ICS could make me take this device for free). Needless to say, this phone design with Windows Phone would be an instant buy for many (even I would consider buying it if it had WP).
For Sony's sake and mobile financials, this phone better sell well.
42. bayusuputra (Posts: 943; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)
wow, then the great design would be ruined by the boring tiles..
seriously, i think wp is geat, fast and efficient, but saying that Android is unappealing and preferring WP? c'mon.. if not for android, this won't have that beautiful live wallpaper, HD screen (you'll be stuck in WVGA), widgets and even scrollable home screens.. i wouldn't want to sacrifice those with the tiles screen and app screen only..
i'll still buy WP phones, but for this device, i rather have android installed.. just like i rather have n9 (not android, though) over lumia 800.. but i still want a Titan or a Focus.. this beautiful design just can't seem to match nicely with the tiles, imo..
43. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
exactly..that guy is deluded and pretty clueless
33. metoyou (Posts: 278; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Did phonearena deleted my post?
Added to my earlier post regarding to the capacitive button is a hit and miss. 2012 Xperia using different 3.5mm headset standard (CTIA) the one same as iPhone using as opposed to the OMTP standard that previously used
34. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
Most of you are missing the fact that this phone isn't meant for competing with other brand's flagship phones.
It's role is the same as the one xperia arc had a year ago - to offer a near high end experience for a lower price than the true high ends from Samsung or HTC.
However, this year will see two of such Sony phones in Q3/Q4 - codenamed "Hayabusa" and "Mint".
That being said, Xperia s can still hold its own even compared to any phone announced so far - none of them has all of the following: premium feel and design, top notch multimedia, screen, and a camera better than any other android.
35. TylerDeLarge (Posts: 1; Member since: 03 Mar 2012)
Guys I need some advice, I now have an old Omnia HD that I should change the battery and also because I'm tired of Symbian switch to Android.
I am interested in a phone that can last as my dear Omnia HD, and Xperia have wavered between S and some quadcore that uscirà.magari S3?
I remember that multimedia is important for me as well as the stability of the system. What do you advise me?
Thanks for any replies
39. Aaron_R96 (Posts: 198; Member since: 22 Jan 2012)
Xperia S would probably be a better phone for you due to its multimedia ie, 12.1MP camera (and speed 1.5secs to reach it from sleep), HD resolution and high pixel density as well as new refurbished music player which looks very smooth and a HDMI cable included in the box so can easily be connected to your TV, Also android runs very fluidly on the dual core processor despite it being S3 not the new S4 (not a major issue) Hope this helps!
45. nikhil.agrawal88 (Posts: 18; Member since: 01 Mar 2012)
is it going to come with an hdmi cable? all the unboxing videos i saw on youtube didnt had an hdmi cable in the box..i hope it does come with it as it would be really good to plug it with hdtv straight away..
58. Aaron_R96 (Posts: 198; Member since: 22 Jan 2012)
I think this depends on the carrier, but ive heard most do ship with the HDMI cable, if not though i would think you'd be able to pick one up cheap on ebay or amazon anyway :)
36. aswinhhh (Posts: 1; Member since: 03 Mar 2012)
Can Any One Tell Me Which Display Is Better The Samsung Galaxy S2 Or This???
37. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
@Tyler, seems that you were happy with what Omnia HD provided for you.
And if Omnia was good, trust me, Xperia s will be an absolute delight. I don't think you need a quad core over it, because the s is still perfectly capable and zippy with this processor.
And with ICS, it will "fly".
Yet get a sturdy build, unique premium design, amazing camera with by far the fastest shooting time, and you also get the best integration of multimedia, with some unique extras such as controlling the android on the tv with a remote, and really fast charging of battery.
Last but not least, the galaxy s3 will cost significantly more.
@aswinh - this screen has 130 percent more pixels that the one of galaxy s2. That's a huge advantage.
Also it's probably a bit brighter, with more natural colors.
The thing that gs2 has going for it is black color reproduction, no LCD screen can match that.
Also it has a slightly better viewable angles.
Overall, this screen is better for its retina-beating HD sharpness.
44. REYNER (Posts: 187; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
i just wonder if xperia s would beat the sgsII when it comes in performance? phone arena make some comparison of xperia s against other dual core! that would be a hit i think, im actually waiting for this phone, but it seems like a disappointment, im planning to try android phone, i really dont think the need of having a quad core but i wonder, will the price of this phone is almost the same price of the quad cores? lg is known for selling cheap phones
46. Aaron_R96 (Posts: 198; Member since: 22 Jan 2012)
This phone will beat the sgs2 in terms of perfromance in most areas with slightly quicker load times, and particularly in the multimedia performance, it will also be around the same price as the sgs2 (perhaps slightly cheaper) when it releases tomorrow worldwide, it will not be anywhere near as expensive as quad core phones, and will not drain the battery as much as the current quad cores do, hope this helps :) im getting one on wednesday!
65. REYNER (Posts: 187; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
ow that really helps haha im still waiting for it here in the philippines
47. saeen (Posts: 18; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)
I like that Sony mostly give updates on time and hassle free!
49. jakecrz (Posts: 3; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)
This phone sure is great. Having a dual core phone is enough to get the job done for everyday use. Great design and screen is good too!!
People push this device as not having a quad core phone. I mean... I can't see the sense of having a quad core phone. I'm a gamer and I know better CPU = better processing power = better for games. I mean, what's there to process?? Are you gonna run battlefield 3 or crysis on this? Are you gonna run like 20 internet tabs in it? If you want portable gaming, get a ps vita or gaming laptop like alienware!!
|Display||4.3 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (342 ppi) TFT|
Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 MSM8260, Dual core, 1500 MHz
1024 MB RAM
|Size||5.04 x 2.52 x 0.42 inches|
(128 x 64 x 10.6 mm)
5.08 oz (144 g)
|Battery||1750 mAh, 7.5 hours talk time|