The greatest thing about the 12MP Exmor R sensor on the Xperia S is how quickly it can be accessed. The camera interface is the same rich in camera functions UI as in the Xperia arc S, down to the 3D Sweep Panorama mode, whose results can only be watched on Sony's 3D HDTVs via the HDMI port.

There is also a 3D Sweep Multi Angle panorama mode now, taken directly from the Sony Cybershot camera series, which has a narrower frame range, but can be previewed directly on the phone by tilting the screen left and right for a nice stereoscopic effect

We were amazed by the new Quick Launch mode which is on by default - the phone goes from a locked state with the screen off to taking a picture in a little over a second, claims Sony, and it is indeed so. Well, maybe two seconds if it is darker, but this is as fast as it can get, and a wonderful achievement by Sony’s camera engineers. The iPhone 4S, for example, is very fast to focus and take a photo or video too, but you still have to unlock the screen first to reach the camera. The Xperia S is the fastest smartphone snapper out there, period, and this was confirmed in a cowboy shootout.

Moreover, the pictures themselves are nothing to sniff at - sharp, with true colors, a very good amount of detail and accurate white balance. We only had trouble when trying to shoot during the night by frantically pressing on the camera key - it often locked focus unusually slow and then just froze on us, taking at least ten seconds to register the captured frame, hopefully a glitch with our unit. Also, the night pics from the Galaxy S II we carried with us turned up with a little less blown up highlights like street lamps, neon signs or car headlights in automatic shooting mode.

Indoors the Xperia S shots tend to turn a bit softer and yellowish when the light dwindles, and add some noise in low light situations, but nothing out of the ordinary for such conditions happened. When the light was enough, indoor photos turned sharp, with good colors and enough detail. The LED flash does a decent job from about 5 feet distance. 

The 1080p video capture is very smooth with 30fps average, and the videos exhibit a lot of detail, accurate colors and clear sound. The nighttime videos were rather noisy and with blown highlights, which tends to be the problem with most phone camera sensors.   

Sony Xperia S Sample Video with image stabilizer ON:

Sony Xperia S Sample Video without image stabilizer:


The music player has a more minimalistic interface now, with Metro-style “tiles” under the My Music tab that categorize your songs by artists, albums, playlists and so on. Even the back button in the player’s interface has an uncanny resemblance to the back button in Windows Phone. There is a “Sense Me” category that can pick tracks based on your mood, and the Music widget appears on the lock screen so you can control your playback faster from there.

We report with delight that the trademark powerful loudspeaker we are accustomed to in most Xperias is here, capitalizing on Sony’s years of experience in building musical gadgets. It is strong, clean and doesn’t sound tinny like most smartphone loudspeakers.

The phone played all MPEG-4 files we threw at it, up to 1080p definition, but the default video player is pretty bland - no loop function, subtitle support, battery life indicator, or any other additional eye-candy for that matter, only basic playback. The player does DivX/Xvid files, but with only software rendering, so they look pixelated, and we ended up downloading a player off Android Market.

It does allow you to lock the screen while playing, though, and you can access the video editor quickly from its settings for some basic trimming and inserting, which, however, works only with 720p footage and below.



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)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless