Sony Xperia S Review | SoyaCincau.com


Sony Xperia S Review

Posted:  April 10, 2012   By:    31 comments   


In the past 2 years, the Android smart phone players are getting obsessed with having the biggest screen, the most core processor and the thinnest dimensions. We are seeing more brands jumping onto the dual-core bandwagon with screens being upsized beyond the standard 4.3”, which was considered huge back then.

Sony which is formerly known as Sony Ericsson in particular hasn’t been keeping up with such trend with the former flagship the Xperia arc S running on a single core 1.4 Ghz processor and still having a moderate sized 4.2” display. Despite that, there’s still one thing that stands out from Sony, and it is the design of their phones.

Early this year, Sony has revealed its new Sony Xperia NXT series of handsets with the Xperia S. It was also the first Android smart phone under the new Sony Mobile branding, after Sony has acquired full ownership over Sony Ericsson. It is interesting to note that Sony retains its familiar “s & e” slimeball logo with the new brand.

After our early preview in Shanghai, we had the privilege of using the Sony Xperia S for a long term review. Read on to discover our findings.

Design

For the Sony Xperia NXT series, they have incorporated a clean boxy design for the Xperia S, P and U. Among the 3, the Xperia S is the flagship model with the biggest screen at 4.3” and a dual-core 1.5GHz processor. The front of the Xperia S is almost 90% glass which appears all black when the screen is off. The contrasting bottom stands out with its transparent bar and a body coloured piece with XPERIA inscripted on top.

This design approach is what Sony described as “Iconic Identity”, which is a simple and strong look that’s easily recognizable as a Sony Xperia. The design itself stands out from the usual rectangular design with rounded corners that’s too common these days. Even with its 4.3” screen, the Xperia S feels like a smaller 4.0” phone thanks to its thin bezel and flat edges.

In the hands, the Xperia S is nice to touch with its soft matte finish. While it is nice to hold, the body isn’t rugged enough to withstand drops or dents. In our review unit, we had a couple of minor “bruises” at the corners which is noticeable especially on the white version.

The Xperia S comes with a removable back which is rather unnecessary as it only gives you access to the the micro SIM slot. We felt that it could have been better if it had a unibody design with the micro SIM slot placed at the sides like its micro USB slot and a HDMI port with flush covers.

The metallic physical buttons on the Xperia S is rather nice to press and it matches the well designed 3.5mm audio jack with metallic ring finish. A little gripe is the volume rocker which is placed smack in the middle at the sides. The placement is a little awkward which we find it better placed higher towards the top for a comfortable reach.

 

 

The main highlight of the design is the transparent belt which doubles up as a component for antenna reception. It lights up for about 7 seconds whenever a button is pressed and it flashes during an incoming call. The transparent belt isn’t really a notification light and there’s no option to change colours or to adjust the duration of the light to stay on. It is worth pointing out that the Xperia U’s transparent belt comes with multiple LED colours that dynamically changes according to the dominant colour of the screen.

For notifications, there’s a multi colour LED at the top left which flashes in white, orange, red, green or blue. The only complaint is that the blue light illuminated for missed calls is hardly noticeable.

For the first timers, most people would expect the transparent bar to be touch sensitive as the standard Android buttons icons are printed inside. On the contrary, the capacitive buttons are located above the transparent belt which is indicated by 3 dots. However we noticed that the 3 dots aren’t really the sweet spot and getting the buttons to work is a rather hit and miss affair. Later, we discovered that the actual sensors are actually between the dots and the display itself. It was quite an annoying at first which we soon gotten used to eventually.

Display & Audio

The Xperia S features a 4.3” TFT Reality Display that pushes a high resolution of 1280×720. Despite not being a Super LCD or AMOLED variety, the display is undoubtedly sharp on the Xperia S, thanks to its rather high pixel density of 342ppi. As comparison, the iPhone 4/4S does 326ppi. Text appears sharp and it is readable even at full width view of web pages, albeit some squinting required.

Watching HD videos on the Xperia S is great as well with sharp details and vivid colour. While viewing photos and videos, the Xperia S also comes with Mobile Bravia Engine which is a post processing engine that enhances the colours and sharpness dynamically.

For audio, the Xperia S comes with X-Loud feature which boosts the loud speaker a notch higher. It increases the volume without cracking too much which is rather good for sharing videos among your friends in the outdoors. While it performs great as a media playback device, we noticed that the speakerphone is just too soft for phone calls. When mounted in the car, we can hardly hear the other person when making a call while driving. Hopefully this can be fixed with an software upgrade as the speaker is really capable in normal video playback.

For normal voice calls, the audio pick up is great and the secondary mic acts as an active noise cancellation mic to reduce excessive background noise from your conversation.

Usability & UI

With a 720p HD screen, Sony has gone and extra mile to bring out the best out of it. The core built-in app icons such as browser, camera, email & music have been redesigned with more depth and detail. It is very noticeable when compared side by side with your standard Android app icons. If you haven’t, you can check out our Xperia S UI overview video.

Out of the box, the Xperia S runs on Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread with its own custom skin. While the Android 4.0 ICS upgrade is on the way, we have nothing to complain about the existing OS. It feels snappy and it just works without any problems to report. Just like other devices, Sony included some nicely design widgets that compliments its well designed home screen such as weather, social feeds via Timescape & quick settings. This goes to show that it really isn’t a bad thing if the phone is not the latest but having said that, Sony should be proactive in bringing its current line up to the latest Android version.

Like most new smart phones, the Xperia S comes with NFC capability which is accessible through its Tags app. Unlike the Galaxy Nexus with its ICS Android Beam, the Xperia S requires you to define tags before sharing. With Android Beam, NFC sharing is more seamless by just tap and hold to push contents/links to the next phone. Hopefully Sony will offer Android Beam when it rolls out ICS update for the Xperia S.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to try out the SmartTags as it didn’t come with our loaner unit. What SmartTag does is it allows you to switch your phone profile with a simple NFC tap, for example car mode in the car or meeting mode in the office.

GPS Navigation

Included with the Xperia S is Wisepilot, which is a pretty good navigation software that works in Malaysia. It even came with lane assist which is rather useful especially on roads with confusing exits. Unfortunately we can’t seem to get the usual GPS lady voice to talk but this could be a limitation for the trial period.

Camera

One of the biggest highlight is the 12MP camera. With its Fast Capture feature, it allows you to take a photo instantly from sleep mode in just 1.5 seconds. All you need to do is just press and hold the dedicated shutter button while the screen is off. Strangely though, Fast Capture doesn’t work when the phone is active and long pressing the button only launches the camera app without snapping any pictures. With an active screen, it is faster to launch the camera by tapping the camera icon.

The image quality is rather good but there’s still some visible noise which is still within acceptable levels. The colours and contrast are top notch and this probably is the best camera you can get on an Android right now. The camera UI is straight forward and it comes with extra bells and whistles like smile detection that automatically snaps a picture according to the “intensity” of your smile.

Earlier on during our unboxing, we reported that there was a rendering issue with the default Android Gallery. When we previewed our photos, it looked very clear but upon tapping to zoom, the photo turned out pixilated very badly. After a software update over the air (OTA), this bug was resolved and the photos still turn out clear when zooming in. For full photo rendering, you can install the QuickPic app which lets you view photos at 100% crop.

The only complaint if we’re forced to pick would be the placement of the microphone. In landscape mode, the dedicated button is located at the top right which makes it natural to hold the Xperia S like a regular point and shoot camera. However if you’re shooting a video in this position, you would actually block the mic which results low or no audio recording at all. The Xperia S has 2 microphones, the primary at the bottom of the transparent belt and a secondary mic at the back. Initially we figured probably there’s an option to switch recording microphone but unfortunately there’s no way to do so. So if you’re shooting a video, do take note of this and we recommend holding it by the corners instead.

Sample photos and videos below:

 

Battery Life & Reception


Coming out from basements or from lifts, we noticed that the Xperia S took longer than usual to switch from EDGE to HSDPA. We suspect this could be done intentionally to reduce erratic switching between 2G to 3G networks for the battery savings but it can be annoying at times when you need faster internet immediately. The battery on the Xperia S is non user removable but the 1,750mAh battery is rather sufficient with up to 12-13 hours of average usage.

Conclusion

The Xperia S isn’t the fastest phone on paper, neither does it have the biggest screen size in the market. However in the sea of smart phones shouting latest specs, the Xperia S performed up to expectation while being a good looker at the same time.

If you plan to get one, we strongly advise you to get a case as soon as possible. The Xperia S body and its matte finish looks elegant but any minor dings and dents would be very obvious especially with the white version. Should you get one? If you’re looking for something different, this is definitely a phone to get with its iconic and recognisable transparent belt. It’s hard to not notice especially at night.

The camera is a fast performer from sleep mode but obviously isn’t as snappy as the recent HTC One X. Our initial impression is while the One X is a fast snapper, the Xperia S is likely to produce better quality but we will reserve our comments for our full shoot out coming out soon.

At RM1,899, the Xperia S is reasonably priced and it is available for purchase on contract with all major telcos in Malaysia. With new quad core rivals like the HTC One X and upcoming Samsung Galaxy S III, the Xperia S will have an uphill battle in the next few months. As the first Android smart phone model to launch  in 2012, things are looking good for Sony and the Xperia S is currently one of our top smart phone picks. We can’t wait to see what Sony will unveil next.

Related Links
Unboxed: Sony Xperia S
Sony Xperia S UI Overview
Sony Xperia NXT Series Compared
Sony Xperia S First Impressions
Sony offers to rectify Xperia S yellow tint issue

Photo Gallery


News, Reviews
, , , , , , , ,
Wanna say something?






 

31 Comments for Sony Xperia S Review

chorwin

Good and detail review from sc, kind of comparable to engadget review. 🙂
IMHO, I prefer HTC for the moment.

Rie Chua

i'm using is now,is a great phone.And as you say my white xperia s corner have a small crack which made it shape change a bit.The feel of the material is comfort but not so solid….have to get a case immediately if really want to buy..

    O'rly

    Yup, got mine yesterday. the back cover is comfortable but easily riddled with minor scratches (even thought i got a black one).
    It's not really noticeable, until you look very closely.

      xperia

      You bought is it second batch? Does yours have the yellow tint problem ?

        O'rly

        Not sure what you meant by second batch, mine comes with the NFC tag, HDMI cable, standard charger, car charger adapter, 2 USB charge cable, 1 headsets and thats it.

        but i do notice a very slightly yellowish fog on the bottom of the screen when i go to google play store.
        not knowing if this is the appearance of google play or not (doesn't shows up on other white screen) but the fog is barely noticeable so i ignored it.

          O'rly

          I tell you what, if u plan to buy one, try to test the phone on the spot. Connect the phone with wifi and google "dead pixel test". den try on a white screen to see if your's have yellow tint issue.

          xperia

          Hmm..Kay

vhanded

The only stupid design bout this phone is the cover for the USB charging hole.

    kwan

    Don't see the problem with the cover. Am using the Xperia Mini and being a stickler for dust… I like it.

    I guess it's a matter of preference.

Julius

I bet if u test used my Xperia S, u wont consider to buy it anymore… To tell u all honestly, I wont buy any Sony Mobile product anymore after the experienced with my Xperia S

    BMW4all

    well you gotta me more descriptive than just saying – well saying nothing!

    I'm using this phone right now and the slab is truly gorgeous in all ways. My only gripe at the moment is the USB charging cover!

      XS user

      The USB cover is quite hard to remove. Here's a tip. Remove from the back, where the lines meet with the backcover. It is easier than the designed way which is too tight.

      Julius

      Maybe u have urself a proper Xperia S. Look to my unit, it is not only yellow tinted problem on screen, also the battery housing cover start to have colouring defect. My Xperia S just 3 week using only, the battery housing start to have large area, sqaure in size of dark shadow, it really make the phone look ugly especially my Xperia S is in white colour (I here to say is product failure, cause obviously the detect is not done by me). I already send to repair for the yellow tinted screen problem, but it is not fully solved, u still can see some tinted there on the edge of screen. WTF, just 3 week more only, now the phone look like a 1 year used 2nd hand phone, what a dissapointment!!!

    O'rly

    I've owned Desire HD, Samsung Galaxy S2. Currently using XS, and i fail to understand how you can reach to that conclusion.
    This is by far, the best duo-core smartphone on sale. Hardware, interface, design, and UI are of the tip-top performance in this range.
    either your a troll making baseless accusations, or we live in a parallel universe of juxtaposition.

      Julius

      http://www.soyacincau.com/2012/04/03/sony-mobile-… go have some survey 1st in forum, give u the most nearest' thread comment link from soyacincau. Obviously, not me the one who is unsatisfied with Xperia S. Everything come in a reason one Mr O'rly, if u didnt face the problem, doesnt mean it is not exist. I not here to look down to the product in term of the performance and specification like u mentioned, if i did, i wont buy it too. Now i am talk about the durability and usability. Something is pretty in look, but doesnt mean it is good to be use.

        Fckkk

        The yellow tint problem is only a small problem compare to tons of phone out there…and can be easily fixed without paying extra!
        Other than that, if u can find any problem which occurs when u r using Xperia S,such as exploding? too hot to hold? like the iphone4s….then i agree with u

      Julius

      Go to do some survey 1st in forum, or go to nearest' soyacincau Xperia thread "Sony Mobile offers to rectify Xperia S yellow tint issue", go and read those comment. Obviously, not me the one who is unsatisfied with Xperia S. Everything come in a reason one Mr O'rly, if u didnt face the problem, doesnt mean it is not exist. I not here to look down to the product in term of the performance and specification like u mentioned, if i did, i wont buy it too. Now i am talk about the durability and usability. Something is pretty in look, but doesnt mean it is good to be use.

Julius

http://www.soyacincau.com/2012/04/03/sony-mobile-… go to check another soyacincau thread comment, u will noe, not only me is unsatisfied with Xperia S. FYI, everything come in a reason one, u didnt face the problem doesnt mean it not exist, Mr O'rly.

Julius

http://www.soyacincau.com/2012/04/03/sony-mobile-… go have some survey 1st in forum, give u the most nearest' thread comment link from soyacincau. Obviously, not me the one who is unsatisfied with Xperia S. Everything come in a reason one Mr O'rly, if u didnt face the problem, doesnt mean it is not exist. I not here to look down to the product in term of the performance and specification like u mentioned, if i did, i wont buy it too. Now i am talk about the durability and usability. Something is pretty in look, but doesnt mean it is good to be use.

Julius

My current Xperia S problem after 1 month used:
i) Serious yellow tinted on screen after burst using
ii) Serious "toxic odour" from battery area after burst using
iii) Serious colouring detect, square in size, shadow in colour, at the battery housing cover (look ugly if ur Xperia S in white colour)

Worth to buy it? I suggest u think twicely before buy it, and give urself a preparation to go Sony Ixsun sevice center regularly. I already trade in my suck Xperia S to HTC One X, hope wont get anymore low quality product from HTC like Sony does.

    alzaman0

    well bout the yellow tint issue, only certain batch were affected. if u read more, htc one x users also experiencing the same issue.. so good luck.

AdibahD

how about the battery life on 3g?can it last more than 12 hours?

Yoman

My friend bought HTC One X, but there is too much bugs on its software and browser rendering…
The quad core on it becomes useless at this point…
He still prefers Xperia S by the way…less bugs and more beautiful!

Stop Julius!

stop julius before he lays eggs!

Tengku Shahrul Effendy

My Xperia S works pefectly… Best phone for me…

NVN

IS XPERIA S BETTER OR SHOULD I GO FOR IPHONE 4S

asshole

I use it for a few month and it don't lag like galaxy s2 and it take perfect picture

assline

I just wait for the xperia tx , t , v and j all have water splash prof

    jon

    Sorry but only xperia v has water resistant, the other's dont