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.



Processor:

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.



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