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Sony Xperia ion Review

Posted: , by John V.


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Typically, the US doesn’t see many Android powered smartphones from Sony’s camp, so that’s probably why some people are going to be unfamiliar with the custom Android experience running on the Xperia ion. Actually, AT&T claimed the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and PLAY 4G previously, so if you’ve owned or checked those out, you won’t find the experience on this one to be too alien. Just like the Xperia S and U, the ion is running the UXP NXT interface (from “next user experience”), and unfortunately people, it’s on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread. Needless to say, some will think of it as a bummer, but as Sony tells us, they’ve brought along some ICS elements to the interface to tide us over.

Overall, it still packs all the lovable breadth of personalization that’s been a star attraction to the mobile platform. However, after experiencing HTC Sense 4.0 and Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX, we have to admit that Sony’s take is slim and not as comprehensive. Nevertheless, the minimalistic look of the UI and Sony’s specific set of widgets help to give it a distinctive look of its own, which we’re sure that some people will still perceive to be attractive.

Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review

Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread


As we’ve pointed out, the UI on the Xperia ion might seem somewhat foreign, but it’s in fact the same one found on the Xperia S and U that we’ve reviewed already. Therefore, if you want to learn more about its functionality, you can read it in our in-depth review of the Xperia S. This time around, however, there’s one new feature that we haven’t seen before – and it’s none other than Sony’s NFC based SmartTags function.

Similar to what we’ve explained with Samsung’s TecTiles, Sony’s SmartTags is within the same premise, as they’re programmable NFC chips that can perform specific actions when scanned with the handset.  First and foremost, these Sony SmartTags aren’t flimsy stickers like Samsung’s TecTiles, but rather, they’re durable circular shaped plastic tags that can be attached to your key chain. Using the SmartTags widget, we can program them to do a variety of actions, even multiple ones. These include things like running an app,  turning off/on Wi-Fi, adjusting the volume, and much more. Again, it doesn’t seem as comprehensive as Samsung’s offering, since it lacks social networking integration – like being able to check-in.

The on-screen keyboard that pops up when you are trying to write a message is well-spaced, but in portrait mode our fat fingers kept pressing the wrong key, so we usually turned it in landscape, but we guess you get better with time.

The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review
The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review
The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review
The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review

The on-screen keyboard options

Processor and Memory:

Yes, it’s a dual-core CPU inside of the Xperia ion, but unlike its competition, it’s relying on the older dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor with 1GB of RAM. Call it madness or whatever, we’re not particularly too bummed by it, mainly because it still manages to perform decently – though, it’s quite obvious that its fluidity isn’t on the same pace as we’ve seen on the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X. Furthermore, its benchmark results reflect its “older” hardware, but then again, we’re not that concerned since it performs sufficiently without becoming unusable at any point.

Quadrant Standard AnTuTu NenaMark 2
Sony Xperia ion 2833 6044 36.4
Samsung Galaxy S III US 4520 6111 59.4
Sony Xperia S 3206 6595 37.5
HTC One X AT&T 4958 6863 57.7

Out of the box, the handset is graced with a modest 11.24GB of free storage, while another 1.59GB is reserved for apps and other system storage. Lucky for us all, it features expandable memory via its microSD card slot.

Internet and Connectivity:

Honestly, we’ll never get tired of knowing that these super spec’d smartphones are equipped with LTE radios. Knowing that, the Xperia ion delivers the same blazing data speeds that other LTE devices on AT&T’s lineup are capable of providing. Unfortunately, we’re irked to find that its web browsing performance isn’t spot-on flawless. Specifically, there’s some noticeable jerkiness with pinch zooming and kinetic scrolling, which is more profound when there’s heavy Adobe Flash content on screen. It’s never downright crawling, but still, it’s a blemish that’s profoundly evident.

Running off AT&T’s 4G LTE network in the greater New York area, the Xperia ion manages to pull in similar data speeds found with its rivals. At times, we’re able to see it getting as much as 10Mbit/s, which is the same result we obtained with the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III. Additionally, the handset packs other connectivity features such as aGPS, Bluetooth, NFC, mobile hotspot functionality, and Wi-Fi.

Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review
Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review
Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review
Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review

Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion

  • Options

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 08:53 13

1. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 444; Member since: 10 Jan 2012)

Really?? You haven't seen those Sony SmartTags before? And it is like your stating that Samsung TecTiles were the first NFC chips that can activate apps and what-so-ever with a tap.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 08:54 3

2. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)

Sony's design used to be awesome... they overused it with too many models. I'm getting bored looking at it --- I'd rather get the white 4X HD, which has 8.5 btw --- or even the S3. I'm not even impressed with the GX's design.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 09:52 5

3. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

This phone was the last development of the SE joint venture, and as such, ended up on thin ice.
Looks like Sony just gave up on it focusing on their first batch of new Xperias.
And now they're selling it on a discount price just because they have it.

And yeah, this is a great value for money.
Way better than HTC Rezound, and hugely superior to Nokia lumia 900.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 10:14

4. thunderising (Posts: 225; Member since: 25 Nov 2011)

Looks so bland!

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 10:36 1

5. Martine (Posts: 102; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)

When will Sony learn from the mistakes of SE and just upspec their flagship device. Not only did they release this phone and Xperia S with S3 processors, they still managed to release the ion with Gingerbread on top.
Sony why?

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 10:39

6. mtajulmuluk (Posts: 18; Member since: 15 Jun 2012)

All sony smartphone, is same body n design.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 11:00 7

7. RamyRamz69 (Posts: 390; Member since: 12 Dec 2011)

Pros over HTC One X:
SD Card
Better design(IMO)
PS Certified
Better Camera
Better Multi-Media options
Much more stuff included in the box

AND, it will get ICS AND Jelly Bean(Galaxy Nexus, which has a worse processor and 1 GB RAM is getting it. Sony managed to put ICS smoothly on 512 MB RAM single core devices so hell yeah they can do it)

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 11:31 3

8. Retro-touch (Posts: 264; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)

Galaxy Nexus processor is worse, please, spare the lies, TI-OMAP is better than S3, of course Exynos is the best among the dual cores from last year, S4 is the current best dual core this year.

posted on 30 Jun 2012, 23:16 2

20. u-suck-more (Posts: 529; Member since: 26 Aug 2011)

to those idiots that disliked that comment: TI-OMAP 4 is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better than S3. just bcos Sony uses the S3, it doesn't mean the S3 is good. the S3 is one of the worst dual cores, if not the worst

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 11:52 1

9. hitechredneck (Posts: 84; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

Have to say very disappointed in this phone. Great camera and display and no doubt got performance but its the loudspeaker. The experia S had a great call quality and very loud so what happened with the ion? Better off buying an S in my opinion. Wanted this phone but now I think i'll pass and see what happens in the fall/Q3.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 12:33 5

10. TMach (Posts: 387; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

Stop your whinging people, if you don't like it don't buy it! I guess this fell between the cracks of SE morphing into Sony but they have decided to release it anyway as it is still a very good phone and does everything you would want from a smartphone!

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 14:04

11. rpankaj (Posts: 29; Member since: 21 Jun 2012)

i m nt getting any android phones now..they just keep increasing cores n android versions.. no one cares for battery... rather i will keep phone only for browsing n phone calls +sms... some apps... for gaming, i got pc. for videos, of course, my hdtv n pc serves way better.. lolz.. i will get an apple iPhone over android due to instability of droids

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 16:55 3

12. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

Sony is late, as always. For a flagship is too weak, in camera department it has no chances against 808 or even N8...hell! S III makes similar photos!)
What sony is trying to do? They want to back in the game and compete with monster phones like S III, One X and 4X with...that? Good phone overall. But in direct comparison with competitors falls behind.
Or maybe sony has taken a path similar to what Nokia did. Little steps, trying to grab as much of this segment as it can and after some time attack the biggest fish.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 17:01 1

13. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1293; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)

Sony could be a stand out if they used a hybrid platform. Pack in high end Android hardware spec's with ICS and put along side it Vita hardware, controls and game slot. Pop a Vita game or memory card and launch Vita mode with a app. Hit a button and it goes back into Android mode while saving your position. Best of both worlds.
Every year you could upgrade the Android related hardware and software but keep the Vita stuff the same. Sony still makes the same money as the stand alone Vita and the customer has Android and it's ecosystem. Gives Android a solid partner with a gaming platform.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 19:09 2

14. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6741; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)

this phone is BEAUTIFUL. I can't wait to buy mine tomorrow! and forget you guys keep planing bout the iON have a older processor unit or no ICS. It will be upgradbale to ICS. Plus SONY said themselves theirs NO need for QUAD CORE processors. the only few things that sold me is the 12mp and the QUICK CAMERA by their CYBER SHOT technology. PLAYSTATION CERTIFIED plus it goes along with my PS3. Also their MOBILE BRAVIA ENGINE LCD SCREEN. I'm buying XPERIA Phones from now on NO MORE MOTOROLA phones for me

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 19:14 1

15. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3042; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)

Not saying this is a bad device but for just 100 more you can get the one x or sgs3. When it comes to being future resistant you can't find better devices to hold on to for that 2 year period.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 19:48 3

16. Birds (Posts: 1029; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

lol, unless you are rolling in money, every bill count and I would take the Sony Xperia Ion over both the SGSIII and the One X simply because it is cheaper. 100 dollars may seem like its not alot of money but where i'm from, we think of a hundred dollars like 100,000 pennies. More zeros make it sound more important so we do stuff tightly especially when it comes to those outrages bills at the end of the month.

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 22:11

17. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3042; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)

You do realize you are still spending the same amount each month regardless. If you buy a phone because it's free and it craps out on you, guess what? You get the same damn phone again through insurance. My friend hates his DROID charge and only bought it because it was cheap. Ended up hating it after a short few months and had to buy the RAZR full retail price. Where had he spent the extra 100 dollars he would have been happy and didn't have to buy another for full retail. Remember 2 years is a long time to stick with one phone, spend a little more and be happy with your purchase.

posted on 25 Jun 2012, 17:13

19. Birds (Posts: 1029; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)

The point is is that people will always shell out money to the cheaper device that seems like a bargain because it has great initial appeal. My point is that the vast majority of consumers don't dig deep. If they see a bargain they hunt it down... lol

posted on 24 Jun 2012, 23:02

18. thachlel (Posts: 75; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)

If $100 more is matter then go get free phone. I'm pretty sure AT&T very glad n wait ting for u to sign up one

posted on 15 Jul 2012, 09:47

21. loken (Posts: 462; Member since: 09 May 2012)

ics is here..

posted on 29 Jul 2012, 04:52

22. sammy_saw (Posts: 28; Member since: 07 Jan 2012)

Dose anybody know if this phone support video call ?

posted on 18 Aug 2012, 18:37 1

23. gurnblansten (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Aug 2012)

Bought one, biggest mistake since starting Android use with an X10. It is easy to bog the processor down, consumes battery life and if you fire up the Bravia (58% Battery consumption) forget about any lengthy phone calls. A month into it's release and gingerbread painful to use with no word at all on official Ice Cream Sandwich (Sony scrambling to fix the 2011 ICS mess they created with updates to update of ICS, a few 2012 phones are now getting ICS - pathetic development/release cycle has not changed under Sony only). Boxing it back up - Have a 32GB Samsung Galaxy S3 coming home to take it's place. It will have Jellybean by the time they release ICS for this phone. HUGE mistake, even at $0 on two year contract paying more for HTC OneX or Samsung S3 is warranted. Seems the Playstation game market is being outsources as well, HTC has signed on so OneX users will be able to play Sony games when they launch the Market in North America (Store laughably needs ICS which Ion lacks).

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Sony Xperia ion

Sony Xperia ion

OS: Android 4.1.2 4.0 2.3
view full specs
Display4.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (323 ppi) TFT
Camera12.1 megapixels
Dual core, 1500 MHz
1024 MB RAM
Size5.20 x 2.68 x 0.42 inches
(132 x 68 x 10.6 mm)
5.08 oz  (144 g)
Battery1900 mAh, 10 hours talk time

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