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Sony Xperia S review

Goodbye Ericsson. Can the Japanese powerhouse go it alone?

Our Verdict

It might not be cheap (yet), but we're impressed with the power and poise of Sony's first solo foray

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 32 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 12.1 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 8.50 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 720

View full specification

For

  • Fantastic screen
  • NFC capability
  • High quality camera
  • Premium build
  • Large internal storage

Against

  • Easy to drop
  • No microSD slot
  • Slightly poor battery life
  • Fat chassis
  • Only Android 2.3

Update: We've taken a better look at the NFC capabilities of the Xperia S and played with the SmartWatch in a bit more depth - check out our findings.

So Sony has paid Ericsson off with a nice little divorce settlement and is now single and ready to rock - and the result is the 12MP-camera, HD screen-toting Sony Xperia S.

Obviously, it's a line carried over from the Sony Ericsson era which saw the maker release an Xperia handset on what felt like a weekly basis. But we get the feeling that this is something a little more special.

Specs wise, it's pretty high end so should give us a great experience if we're judging it on paper. A fantastic 4.3" screen with Sony's Bravia HD technology, 12MP Exmor R camera, DLNA, Android Gingerbread 2.3 and so forth.

And it looks pretty hot too. A slab made out of glossy piano black glass with a transparent strip across the front that also acts as an antenna, this could quite easily be a swish remote for some posh Sony toy rather than a phone.

Sony Xperia S review

It's pretty substantial in the hand at 128 x 64 x 10.6mm, creating an impression similar to the Samsung Galaxy S2, albeit a little heavier at 144g. And also a fair bit fatter with a curved back that makes the phone feel a lot fatter than we'd have liked.

Sony Xperia S review

Up top, you'll find a power/unlock button and the 3.5mm headphone jack whilst the right hand side gives you volume buttons, a HDMI out socket (the cable came in our box) and a dedicated camera button.

Sony Xperia S review

The bottom has little of interest whilst the right side guards the charging/sync port. It's behind a fiddly cap that you have to pop off which irritated us very quickly and we can't see it being too long before that ends up snapped off. It's not that it's hard to open – but you need the physical prowess of a ninja to get it back on again.

Sony Xperia S review

The rear holds the camera lens and LED light and interestingly, although the front of the Xperia S shows off the world famous Sony logo, the rear holds the old Sony Ericsson logo which bizarrely, Sony has elected to keep.

Sony Xperia S review

It's made of plastic and this is one of the downsides of the Xperia S because the top heavy weight – and the fact that the keyboard is at the bottom of the screen – means it doesn't balance well in the hand. Several times we came close to dropping it and we can see a lot of these landing on the floor.

Sony Xperia S review

The front of the phone is one large dark panel with a small indentation for the earpiece and the front facing 1.3MP camera. That antenna strip at the bottom which looks like three light up buttons is actually just a piece of pretty glass with the user forced to press just above them on the actual body of the screen to get any sense out of them.

Sony Xperia S review

They're not particularly responsive and we found ourselves quickly tiring of their prettiness and grumpy at their rubbish responsiveness.

Sony Xperia S review

Still, having said that, this does feel like a very premium device and one you'll pay through the nose for. Whilst Sony and the networks won't be able to command Apple like prices, you'll still expect to part with a good chunk of your savings to get one.

Sony Xperia S review

Although not on general release yet, pre-order sim free prices are estimated at around the £450 mark which pits the Xperia directly against premium Androids like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and LG Prada 3.

Sony Xperia S review

Expect to pay at least £30 a month on a 24 month deal if you want this new pretender gratis. Black is the order of the day but there will also be a white variant. Unfortunately, that's exclusive to Phones4U so will be harder to get.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory32 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA
SAR Value1.30 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyXperia S
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedWCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSony Mobile
Battery Talk Time8.50 Hour
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution1280 x 720
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)144 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log
Pixel Density342 ppi
Height128 mm
Width64 mm
Depth10.6 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NameXPERIA S Smartphone
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Product LineXperia S
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeGyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Accelerometer
Manufacturer Part Number1257-3114
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Experience thrills. In HD.

First day of the summer. Last day at the beach. Memories may fade, but the Xperia S HD mobile keeps them bright. Share the moment via a video chat in HD.

Or record it all in full HD video. View in razor-sharp clarity on the stunning 4.3" Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine. Want more? Simply plug your Xperia S into your TV's HDMI port and enjoy your HD content on a bigger screen.

Experience now. With lightning-fast capture.

A single key press takes you from sleep to snap in just over a second. With the 12 megapixel camera of Xperia S, you'll never miss another shot again. And you can keep on shooting. No delays, no missing the subject. Low light? No worries. The Exmor R for mobile camera sensor lightens up any gloomy day. Then share your pictures on a big screen. A single swipe of the display, and you can enjoy them on your tablet, TV or laptop via DLNA.

Limited Warranty2 Year