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Sony Xperia ion Review

Sony Xperia ion

Posted: , posted by John V.

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Typically, the US doesn’t see many Android powered smartphones from Sony’s camp, so that’s probably why some people are going to be unfamiliar with the custom Android experience running on the Xperia ion. Actually, AT&T claimed the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and PLAY 4G previously, so if you’ve owned or checked those out, you won’t find the experience on this one to be too alien. Just like the Xperia S and U, the ion is running the UXP NXT interface (from “next user experience”), and unfortunately people, it’s on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread. Needless to say, some will think of it as a bummer, but as Sony tells us, they’ve brought along some ICS elements to the interface to tide us over.

Overall, it still packs all the lovable breadth of personalization that’s been a star attraction to the mobile platform. However, after experiencing HTC Sense 4.0 and Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX, we have to admit that Sony’s take is slim and not as comprehensive. Nevertheless, the minimalistic look of the UI and Sony’s specific set of widgets help to give it a distinctive look of its own, which we’re sure that some people will still perceive to be attractive.

Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review
Sony Xperia ion is running the UXP NXT interface on top of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread - Sony Xperia ion Review


Functionality:

As we’ve pointed out, the UI on the Xperia ion might seem somewhat foreign, but it’s in fact the same one found on the Xperia S and U that we’ve reviewed already. Therefore, if you want to learn more about its functionality, you can read it in our in-depth review of the Xperia S. This time around, however, there’s one new feature that we haven’t seen before – and it’s none other than Sony’s NFC based SmartTags function.

Similar to what we’ve explained with Samsung’s TecTiles, Sony’s SmartTags is within the same premise, as they’re programmable NFC chips that can perform specific actions when scanned with the handset.  First and foremost, these Sony SmartTags aren’t flimsy stickers like Samsung’s TecTiles, but rather, they’re durable circular shaped plastic tags that can be attached to your key chain. Using the SmartTags widget, we can program them to do a variety of actions, even multiple ones. These include things like running an app,  turning off/on Wi-Fi, adjusting the volume, and much more. Again, it doesn’t seem as comprehensive as Samsung’s offering, since it lacks social networking integration – like being able to check-in.

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.

The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review
The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review
The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review
The on-screen keyboard options - Sony Xperia ion Review


Processor and Memory:

Yes, it’s a dual-core CPU inside of the Xperia ion, but unlike its competition, it’s relying on the older dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor with 1GB of RAM. Call it madness or whatever, we’re not particularly too bummed by it, mainly because it still manages to perform decently – though, it’s quite obvious that its fluidity isn’t on the same pace as we’ve seen on the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X. Furthermore, its benchmark results reflect its “older” hardware, but then again, we’re not that concerned since it performs sufficiently without becoming unusable at any point.


Quadrant Standard AnTuTu NenaMark 2
Sony Xperia ion 2833 6044 36.4
Samsung Galaxy S III US 4520 6111 59.4
Sony Xperia S 3206 6595 37.5
HTC One X AT&T 4958 6863 57.7


Out of the box, the handset is graced with a modest 11.24GB of free storage, while another 1.59GB is reserved for apps and other system storage. Lucky for us all, it features expandable memory via its microSD card slot.


Internet and Connectivity:

Honestly, we’ll never get tired of knowing that these super spec’d smartphones are equipped with LTE radios. Knowing that, the Xperia ion delivers the same blazing data speeds that other LTE devices on AT&T’s lineup are capable of providing. Unfortunately, we’re irked to find that its web browsing performance isn’t spot-on flawless. Specifically, there’s some noticeable jerkiness with pinch zooming and kinetic scrolling, which is more profound when there’s heavy Adobe Flash content on screen. It’s never downright crawling, but still, it’s a blemish that’s profoundly evident.

Running off AT&T’s 4G LTE network in the greater New York area, the Xperia ion manages to pull in similar data speeds found with its rivals. At times, we’re able to see it getting as much as 10Mbit/s, which is the same result we obtained with the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III. Additionally, the handset packs other connectivity features such as aGPS, Bluetooth, NFC, mobile hotspot functionality, and Wi-Fi.

Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review
Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review
Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review
Browsing the web with Sony Xperia ion - Sony Xperia ion Review

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Sony Xperia ion

Sony Xperia ion

OS: Android 4.1.2 4.0 2.3
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
8Good
Display4.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (323 ppi) TFT
Camera12.1 megapixels
Hardware
Dual-core, 1500 MHz
1 GB RAM
Size5.20 x 2.68 x 0.42 inches
(132 x 68 x 10.6 mm)
5.08 oz  (144 g)
Battery1900 mAh, 10 hours talk time

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