Sony Xperia S Review

Interface and functionality:

The UXP NXT interface (from “next user experience”) boasts some visual and functionality changes from its predecessor. The home screens now have a new “colorful flow background”, which is basically a live wallpaper that takes advantage of the HD screen and the powerful processor. The coloring scheme is not utterly blue by default anymore, as there is a nice grey canvas background when you enter default apps, settings, or pull the notification bar, contrasting with the neon blue font used there, which can almost fool you the handset is running ICS.

The widgets are also now with transparent grey for a background, but there are hardly any additional ones compared with the previous UX interface. The biggest novelty is the Recommender app which has its own default widget, listing curated apps to check out, as well as what your social networking buddies are listening to, watching, or downloading.

The connectivity switch widget has been slightly overhauled to rotate and become bigger when you tap on it, allowing you to easily select which radio to turn on/off. There is a new Power Saver widget as well, for easy access to tweak the saving mode that automatically kicks in when your battery falls below 25%. You can time it now as well, telling it to come on when you go to bed, and exit Power Saver when you wake up, for instance.

Nothing new in the main menu - the same nice transparent page backgrounds and pretty app icons that can be arranged alphabetically, by the most used and so on. The dialer is more compact now, and the numbers contrast nicely to its grey background.

The default apps like messaging or calendar haven’t changed much except for the grey/neon blue coloring scheme we mentioned. 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.

Overall UXP NXT looks more streamlined, less flashy, runs smooth as silk and bets on nice gradients and transitional animations.


The Xperia S, which sports 1GB of RAM, certainly takes a good advantage of the 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3 with Adreno 220 GPU to pretty up the interface. You can see its benchmark performance in the video below, if framerates and Browsermark scores are your thing.

Sony Xperia S benchmark tests

The handset scored a bit over 3000 on the new Quadrant, which now accounts for multicore chipsets, north of 6400 on AnTuTu, and the GPU eked about 38fps on NenaMark 2 - all in all, decent results, and about what we expected from this chipset. On Browsermark, which is a synthetic online browsing test, the Xperia S favored pretty well, too, at slightly over the 75, 000 points mark, meaning that browsing will be smooth sailing, except for the heaviest or some unoptimized sites.  

Internet and Connectivity:

The browser on the Xperia S is a delight to use, not only because of the dual-core processor that renders scripts and pages quite fast, but also because of the stunning pixel density of the display. Even when fully zoomed out, you still recognize article titles, and can choose what to read next without pinching in. Adobe Flash is, naturally, supported, and works fine, with the latest Flash Player 11 version installed out of the box.

The Xperia S sports a 14.4Mbps HSPA+ radio and takes microSIM cards only. It also sports the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, A-GPS, FM Radio, NFC, DLNA and has an HDMI-out port for hooking up a TV. The DLNA wireless streaming function is managed by the Connected devices app, as usual. The LiveWare app that allows you to program which application to launch when you insert various accessories to the phone is also here - you can tell it to start the music player when you plug headphones in, for example.



1. buggerrer

Posts: 306; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

nice phone, for 2011 !

2. Mozarrt

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

Could you at least tell us why you think its a phone for 2011.

7. leftheodo

Posts: 108; Member since: Oct 21, 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: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 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: Nov 02, 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: Jun 18, 2012

i totally agree with you Salman!! am using this phone for more than 4months......

12. metoyou

Posts: 279; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Sony always late in smart phone, they now release this phone in 2012 and will release quad-cores in 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: Nov 02, 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: 8; Member since: Feb 26, 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 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's fits all the needs & even more for a Smartphone in 2012

91. radreadiano

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 19, 2012

u did good!!! i absolut love this phone

93. nsnk86

Posts: 43; Member since: Jun 18, 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....

92. lintek

Posts: 8; Member since: Jun 08, 2012


3. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 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: Dec 12, 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.

4. henrickrw

Posts: 408; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Get yourself a galaxy s 2 or a note

5. Mozarrt

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 08, 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: Oct 05, 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: Feb 25, 2012

Only because that "ugly plastic slab" looks better than the Sony Xperia S.

28. ivanprskalo

Posts: 124; Member since: Dec 09, 2010

It is not. These matters are personal oppinion and please keep your to youself, or else... :-)

8. Giggity

Posts: 147; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Is the S also sports the aluminum body like the P?

26. r41nier

Posts: 71; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

no, it's just plastic but it does have an anti-stain UV nano coating

32. CivicSi89

Posts: 349; Member since: Jul 23, 2011

Anti Stain... Giggety

9. robocopvn

Posts: 504; Member since: Mar 10, 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: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 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: 504; Member since: Mar 10, 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 unregistered

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: May 03, 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 unregistered

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: Jan 23, 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: Aug 15, 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 Love Sony.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Xperia S
  • Display 4.3" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 12.1 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S3, Dual-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 1750 mAh(8.50h 3G talk time)

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