Sony Xperia ion Review

Six months ago back at CES, Sony managed to surprise us with the introduction of its flagship Android smartphone in the Sony Xperia ion. During the time, we were undoubtedly captivated by its stellar specs sheet that consisted of a large 4.6” HD display, 4G LTE connectivity, dual-core processor, and a higher than normal 12-megapixel snapper. Looking back at it all, it surely sounded tasty in so many ways, but as time passed with no word regarding its inevitable arrival, our interest in it quickly faded into oblivion – even more when other prestigious smartphones began making their marks.

Fortunately for all of us, the Sony Xperia ion didn’t end up becoming vaporware, as the handset was officially tagged with a June 24th release date very recently. Call us jaded, its specs sheet no longer commands our attention, but maybe Sony needed to do something else to rekindle our interest in it once again? Well people, they surely managed to do just that by attaching a competitive $99.99 on-contract price point to it. After seeing the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III snatching the spotlight on AT&T’s lineup, the Sony Xperia ion needs to be on point in many aspects to stand a chance – and that’s in addition to its already stellar pricing!

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Rapid Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • US Safety Guidelines


Frankly, after seeing the Sony Xperia S and U launching overseas, we’re not all that amazed by the design of the Xperia ion. Rightfully so, it employs the distinctive Xperia design characteristics that have been a staple with series – like its hard lines and curved rear. In comparison to some of its highly esteemed rivals, the Sony Xperia ion is noticeable heavier (5.08 oz) and thicker (0.42”), but then again, it can be attributed to its sturdier choice of materials. Specifically, it casing is mainly comprised out of a brushed metallic material, which strangely gets dirty very easily. Nonetheless, its build quality is very good and seems more equipped in dealing against some punishment better than other plastic devices. All in all, it’s a solid made phone, but lacks the intriguing design styles found with other devices like the HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 900.

You can compare the Sony Xperia ion with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Although it lacks the attention grabbing illuminated strip of the Xperia S and U, its usual set of Android capacitive buttons are still notoriously difficult to activate for some reason – and at times, they simply feel unresponsive. Worst yet, the dinky narrow slits below each button lack any profound backlighting, thus, making it nearly impossible to see what you’re pressing in the dark.

Above the display, there’s 1-megapixel front facing camera capable of shooting 720p videos, a tiny earpiece, and an LED notification light.

Comforting to say the least, the Xperia ion maintains a traditional form by opting to litter its right side with physical power, volume, and camera buttons. However, they’re barely raised and difficult to feel out – and it doesn’t help when their responses are lacking. Conversely, removing the plastic flap on its left side provides us access to its microUSB and microHDMI ports. Rounding things out, we also find a 3.5mm headset jack and microphone.

No doubt it’s above average when compared to other things, the Xperia ion is outfitted with a beefy 12-megapixel auto-focus camera with an LED flash and Exmor R sensor. Also, there are microdots in parallel form below the camera to make out its speaker grill. Even though there’s no access to its battery, the top plastic cover can be removed to gain access to its microSD and SIM slots.


Yet again, we have to admit that we were smitten by its 4.6” HD (720 x 1280) Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine when our eyes first feasted on it back at CES. Indeed, we’re still attracted to it for the most part, thanks primarily to its sharp details, high pixel density of 323 ppi, neutral color production, and acceptable viewing angles. However, after checking out the displays on the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III, which are somewhat more profound, we’re not as convinced by this one anymore. It’s nice with very few complaints, but we’re not totally bonkers over it at this point. For some odd reason, there’s no automatic brightness option on the phone, which alludes to the fact that it doesn’t pack a light sensor.

Although its brightness output produces some pleasant visuals, we're still finding ourselves shielding the display when using it in direct sunlight - plus, it tends to wash out slightly when viewing at subtle angles.

Sony Xperia ion 360-Degrees View:



1. spiderpig2894

Posts: 597; Member since: Jan 10, 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.

2. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 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.

3. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 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.

4. thunderising

Posts: 232; Member since: Nov 25, 2011

Looks so bland!

5. Martine

Posts: 102; Member since: Oct 20, 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?

6. mtajulmuluk

Posts: 18; Member since: Jun 15, 2012

All sony smartphone, is same body n design.

7. RamyRamz69

Posts: 390; Member since: Dec 12, 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 99$ 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)

8. Retro-touch unregistered

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.

20. u-suck-more

Posts: 529; Member since: Aug 26, 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

9. hitechredneck

Posts: 103; Member since: Nov 21, 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.

10. TMach unregistered

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!

11. rpankaj

Posts: 29; Member since: Jun 21, 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

12. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 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.

13. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 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.

14. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

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


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 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.

16. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 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.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 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.

19. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 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

18. thachlel

Posts: 75; Member since: Apr 20, 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

21. loken

Posts: 462; Member since: May 09, 2012

ics is here..

22. sammy_saw

Posts: 28; Member since: Jan 07, 2012

Dose anybody know if this phone support video call ?

23. gurnblansten

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 18, 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).
Xperia ion
  • Display 4.5" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 12.1 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1900 mAh(4.00h 3G talk time)

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