Sony Xperia ion Review

Introduction and Design

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:

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless