Sony Xperia ion vs Samsung Galaxy S III

Introduction and Design

AT&T customers surely have a lot to be happy about, especially now that two highly prized Android smartphones are now available for purchase and poised for an old-fashioned showdown at the O.K. Corral. On one side of the field, we have the highly touted Samsung Galaxy S III, which has already garnered a lot of attention amongst the Android community. And on the other, the Sony Xperia ion is seeking to woo people with its attractive $99.99 on-contract pricing. Very similar in hardware department, it’s safe to say that they’re both top-shelf devices, but there can only be one left standing in this showdown.


Honestly, there isn’t a definitive device that has a better design over the other. Yet, we still find ourselves gravitating slightly more to the Samsung Galaxy S III because it sports a cleaner appearance, it’s skinnier, and lighter. With the Sony Xperia ion, however, it has the sturdier build between the two thanks to its brushed metallic casing, but the compromises are made with its heavier weight and bulkier feel in the hand. Furthermore, its sharp edges aren’t as comforting as the rounded feel of the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Trying to activate any of the Xperia ion’s set of Android capacitive buttons is a frustrating experience, whereas it’s not much of an issue with the Galaxy S III’s combination physical home and capacitive buttons.

Comparing the rear cameras of these two behemoths, the Sony Xperia ion’s beefy 12-megapixel auto-focus camera shouts loudly over the 8-megapixel snapper of the Samsung Galaxy S III, but having a higher count number doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a stand out winner. We’ll talk more on their qualities later. As for front-facing cameras, the Xperia ion packs a 1-megapixel one, while the Galaxy S III is outfitted with a higher 1.9-megapixel camera – both of which can shoot in 720p.

Needless to say, we love the fact that they both offer expandable memory via their microSD card slots, but we prefer the standard microHDMI port of the Xperia ion – especially when the Galaxy S III requires a special type of MHL adapter. Lastly, Samsung’s beauty benefits from a removable battery, whereas the Xperia ion is locked up inside of its body.


Checking out there two beauties, it’s safe to say that they flaunt some sharp looking displays thanks to their large size and high resolution. Specifically, the Samsung Galaxy S III features a 4.8” HD Super AMOLED display, while the Sony Xperia ion comes to the table with a 4.6” HD Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA engine. Seeing that the two share the same 720 x 1280 resolution, Sony’s baby is obviously sporting the higher pixel density, but seriously, it’s not much of a factor seeing that it’s almost indistinguishable when looking at the two from the same distance away. Still, the Galaxy S III has the slight wow factor thanks to the saturated colors tones that its AMOLED panel is able to produce, but it doesn’t have the color accuracy of Sony’s display. Finally, viewing angles are better with the Galaxy S III, since the Xperia ion’s display fades at slight angles.

Interface and Functionality:

Right off the bat, there are going to be some people turned off by the fact that the Xperia ion is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box – whereas the Galaxy S III benefits with Ice Cream Sandwich. Sure, the two are running completely different Android experiences (TouchWiz Nature UX with the Galaxy S III and the UXP NXT interface for the Xperia ion), but they still provide all of the comforts we’re accustomed to having with Android as a whole – like its deep personalization. However, we have to admit that Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX is complete from top to bottom and more comprehensive versus Sony’s offering. Specifically, Samsung has managed to captivate us with its array of software innovations with things like S Beam, SmartStay, S Voice, and GroupCast.

However, when it comes to the core set of organizer apps, like the calendar, calculator, email, and Gmail apps, they provide the same functionality and experience.

Thanks to their large displays, we find the two more than ample for typing up long messages. In addition to the spacious confines of their respective keyboards, their responsiveness in keeping up with our rate enables us to make minimal mistakes along the way.

Processor and Memory:

Already, the Xperia ion is behind the times with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but we can say the same with its processor as well. Rather than using the newer 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, which is what powers the Galaxy S III, Sony’s pride and joy relies instead on the older 1.5GHz dual-core S3 processor. In addition, the Galaxy S III is blessed with double the RAM at 2GB, while the Xperia ion sticks with the usual 1GB. Visually, we like the real world performance of the two, as they’re responsive with most operations, but we’re able to meticulously notice that the Galaxy S III exhibits the more fluid tones with its operation.

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Sony Xperia ion2833604436,4
Samsung Galaxy S III 4520611159,4

Out of the box, the Sony Xperia ion and Samsung Galaxy S III have free storage capacities of 11.24GB and 12.05GB respectively. Thankfully, they can be expanded seeing that they offer microSD card slots.

Internet and Connectivity:

Almost instantly, we can see that the Galaxy S III is the better handset to go with if you’re invested heavily in web browsing. Not only does it exhibit the better response with navigational controls, like pinch zooming and kinetic scrolling, but it’s also better able to handle pages that are rich with Adobe Flash content. Conversely, the Xperia ion is still a good device for web browsing, but its prowess is diminished by some noticeable jerkiness with its performance.

Never something that we’ll get tired of seeing, these two top-shelf smartphones take full advantage of their 4G LTE connections – and actually, they both obtain similar data speeds in our experience. Furthermore, they’re packing all the usual set of connectivity options, such as aGPS, Bluetooth, mobile hotspot functionality, NFC, and Wi-Fi.


So here we are finally comparing the cameras of these two handsets! From an initial glance, some would think that the Sony Xperia ion has an advantage with its sizable 12-megapixel camera with Sony’s Exmor R sensor, but after snapping the same shots with the two, the 8-megapixel camera of the Samsung Galaxy S III proves to be an equal competitor. When we it comes down to it, these two come to the table delivering very similar qualities, but more importantly, they are great point and shoot replacements. In fact, they cough up the same sharp details and punchy colors – though, the Xperia ion produces a subtle amount of over-exposure with its shots, which benefits it in low lighting situations. However, the Galaxy S III has a ridiculously fast shutter speed to capture the moment, whereas the Xperia ion lags with its auto-focus.

Yet again, the qualities of their 1080p video recording are extremely similar, as we’re presented with smooth 30 frames per second capture, sharp details, and neutral colors. However, we find the Samsung Galaxy S III to be more enduring mainly because the Xperia ion suffers from a painfully slow auto-focus and distorted audio recording.

Sony Xperia ion Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy S III Sample Video:


Mainly because the custom Android experience on the Xperia ion isn’t seen in many devices here in the US, we like its music player more than the usual boring TouchWiz player found with the Galaxy S III. However, Samsung’s prodigy outputs the better audio quality with its internal speaker, seeing that the Xperia ion’s speaker is very weak with its tone.

Having large and spiffy looking displays, it’s a safe bet to say that the two are wonderful for watching videos on the go. After taking the time to look at each one meticulously, the Mobile BRAVIA engine of the Xperia ion shows its worth over its rival, as it adjusts the display’s color saturation to give us the more optimal watching experience between the two.

Call Quality and Battery:

We love that voices are crisp, audible, and noise-free on both ends of the line for these two high-end smartphones, but the differentiator in this category is the weak volume output with the Xperia ion’s earpiece and speakerphone.

Blessed with a newer chipset and the latest version of Android, the Samsung Galaxy S III manages to provide us with more battery life when connected via HSPA+. However, we can wholeheartedly agree that LTE connectivity turns them into battery chomping devices – thus, causing their batteries to deplete in no time at all.


As we take a look back on how these two smartphone perform in the various categories, the Samsung Galaxy S III is the clear winner when it comes to overall performance. Specifically, it has the combinational hardware punch and comprehensive software experience to make it cross the finish line ahead of the Sony Xperia ion. However, the Sony Xperia ion’s $100 on-contract pricing still makes it a valiant offering. Therefore, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to settle for a mid-range spec’d device, the Xperia ion is still a valuable option for you. On the flip side, however, if you want to seriously experience the best that Android has to offer, you’ll want to stick with the Samsung Galaxy S III – even though it’s priced double than its rival at $200.

Sony Xperia ion vs Samsung Galaxy S III:

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